The Importance of Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

March 2020 Safety Topic

All employees at Columbia University Irving Medical Center that work with chemicals in some shape, form, or fashion will encounter a Safety Data Sheet (S.D.S).  SDSs are required by law as part of OSHA's Hazard Communications Standard.  The standard requires that the chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor provides a SDS for hazardous chemicals in order to effectively communicate information about the hazards of that particular chemical. SDSs are required to be presented in a consistent user-friendly, 16-section format, as follows:

  • Section 1: Identification: Identifies the chemical on the SDS as well as the recommended uses. It also provides the essential contact information of the supplier.
  • Section 2: Hazard(s) Identification: Identifies the hazards of the chemical presented on the SDS and the appropriate warning information associated with those hazards.
  • Section 3: Composition/Information on Ingredients: Identifies the ingredient(s) contained in the product indicated on the SDS, including impurities and stabilizing additives.
  • Section 4: First-Aid Measures: Describes the initial care that should be given by untrained responders to an individual who has been exposed to the chemical.
  • Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures: Provides recommendations for fighting a fire caused by the chemical.
  • Section 6: Accidental Release Measures: Provides recommendations on the appropriate response to spills, leaks, or releases, including containment and cleanup practices to prevent or minimize exposure to people, properties, or the environment.
  • Section 7: Handling and Storage: Provides guidance on the safe handling practices and conditions for safe storage of chemicals.
  • Section 8: Exposure Controls/Personal Protection: Indicates the exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective measures that can be used to minimize worker exposure.
  • Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties: Identifies physical and chemical properties associated with the substance or mixture.
  • Section 10: Stability and Reactivity: Describes the reactivity hazards of the chemical and the chemical stability information.
  • Section 11: Toxicological Information: Identifies toxicological and health effects information or indicates that such data are not available.
  • Section 12: Ecological Information (non-mandatory): Provides information to evaluate the environmental impact of the chemical if it were released to the environment.
  • Section 13: Disposal Considerations (non-mandatory): Provides guidance on proper disposal practices, recycling or reclamation of the chemical or its container, and safe handling practices.
  • Section 14: Transport Information (non-mandatory): Provides guidance on classification information for shipping and transporting of hazardous chemicals by road, air, rail, or sea.
  • Section 15: Regulatory Information (non-mandatory): Identifies the safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product that is not indicated anywhere else on the SDS.
  • Section 16: Other Information: Indicates when the SDS was prepared or when the last known revision was made.

For more information or questions about Safety Data Sheets please speak with your supervisor or contact a member of the Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance team.