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University of Houston - Victoria

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Campus Safety Manual

How To Use A Material Safety Data Sheet

The MSDS for each hazardous chemical in an employee's work area explains how to use, handle and store the chemical safely.  Some of the basic information found on MSDS is as follows:

  1. Chemical identification - The first section of the MSDS helps you identify the chemical.  It lists the name of the chemical, any trade names, and the chemical manufacturer's name and address.  This section may also list an emergency phone number.
  2. Hazardous ingredients - This section lists ingredients in the chemical that can harm you.  It also lists the concentration of the chemical to which you can safely be exposed.
  3. Physical data - This section lists ingredients in the chemical that can harm you.  It also lists the concentration of the chemical to which you can safely be exposed.
  4. Fire and explosion data - Here you can find the temperature at which the chemical ignites, called the flash point.  If a chemical is flammable, it ignites below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  If it's combustible, it ignites at 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above.  This section also lists extinguishing media - what will put out the fire safely.
  5. Health hazards - This section lists symptoms of overexposure, such as skin rash, burn, headache, or dizziness.  It also tells you first aid and emergency procedures in case of overexposure.  it may also list any medical conditions that can be aggravated by exposure to the material.
  6. Reactivity data - Here you'll find how the chemical "reacts" with materials and other conditions which affect the chemical stability.
  7. Spill or leak procedures - This section tells you what to use to clean up an accidental spill or leak.
  8. Special protection - Here you'll find a listing of any personal protective equipment you need to work safely with the chemical.
  9. Special precautions - This section lists any other special precautions to follow when handling the chemical.  This may include what to have nearby to clean up a spill or put out a fire, and what safety signs to post near the chemical.  This section also lists any other health and safety information not covered in parts of the MSDS.

Safety Manual: Table of Contents