Is there a difference between MSDS and SDS?

If you work with chemicals, hazardous materials, medical waste, or any other materials with physical, chemical and toxic properties, then you need material safety data sheets (MSDS), or as they’re now known, safety data sheets (SDS). Is there a difference between the two? Here’s what you need to know.

MSDS Basics

Material safety data sheets (MSDS) have been the keystone of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standards (HCS). MSDSs are documents that warn users of the specific dangers of hazardous products and offer guidance on their safe handling, storage, and disposal.

How is that Different From SDS?

OSHA’s HazCom 2012 chemical safety standard requires companies to maintain a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which may sound similar to the old Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The HazCom regulation for chemical safety in the workplace is based on an existing international standard, called the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The new rules requires a single, specific format to be followed in the detailed documentation for hazardous chemicals. This format is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Essentially, MSDS became SDS. But there is a difference.

MSDSs could include different kinds of information with different levels of detail, whereas the SDS format is more in-depth. An SDS is made up of sixteen sections, each of which must include specific information using a standardized classification method.

The first phase of the MSDS to SDS transition went into effect in May 2012. By December 2013, companies were required to train all employees on the formatting and labeling changes.

Replacing MSDS with SDS

Replacing MSDSs with SDSs will improve worker safety on a global level. The Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling (GHS) “provides such a standardized approach, including detailed criteria for determining what hazardous effects a chemical poses, as well as standardized label elements assigned by hazard class and category… this will enhance both employer and worker comprehension of the hazards, which will help to ensure appropriate handling and safe use of workplace chemicals.” Further, “adoption of the GHS in the US and around the world will also help to improve information received from other countries—since the US is both a major importer and exporter of chemicals, American workers often see labels and safety data sheets from other countries.”

It’s important for all organizations and facilities that handle hazardous waste stay up to date on the latest in MSDS/SDS regulations. Red Bags’ OSHA online compliance training program can ensure compliance and maintain worker safety. Remember, OSHA may fine you up to $7,000 for each non-compliant item on their checklist. Don’t fall behind. Contact us today.

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