The International Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) mandates that chemical manufacturers must communicate a chemical’s hazard information to chemical handlers by providing a Safety Data Sheet (SDS).Safety data sheets were formerly referred to as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS’s.

Here is a breakdown of the information that each of the sixteen sections convey: Employers must ensure that employees have access to safety data sheets for all of the hazardous chemicals they handle.

Employers may fulfill this requirement in a variety of ways.

For example, SDS binders are quite common as are computer based SDS databases.

The GHS system is used to: The early sections of an SDS (sections one through eight) focus on quick access to essential information that might be required by chemical handlers (for safe handling practices) or by emergency response personnel, e.g., fire fighters.

Sections nine through eleven contain technical and scientific data, e.g., stability, reactivity, physical & chemical properties, etc.

Sections twelve through fifteen are not mandatory; however, they are required to be fully GHS compliant.

The last section, section sixteen, contains information about the SDS itself, e.g., the revision date and changes since the last version.

Second, SDS’s adhere to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The GHS system is an international standard so the SDS that a US chemical handler reads is substantially similar to the SDS that a chemical handler in Europe or Asia might read.

GHS is a set of international guidelines that were developed by the United Nations.

These guidelines were created to ensure the safe manufacturing, handling, use, disposal, and transport of hazardous materials.