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Toolbox Talk - Week 47: Hazard Communication - What is a Safety Data Sheet?

The SDS - What is a Safety Data Sheet - 2021.11
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This talk provides an overview of the 16 sections of a safety data sheet (SDS) for your workers who will be working with hazardous chemicals.

Materials to have on hand:

  • The company’s written hazard communication program

  • An SDS

  • A chemical label

Items for attendees to consider during talk:

  • Do you know where to find an SDS?

  • Do you know our chemical-handling procedures?


Because we work with hazardous chemicals every day, we need to know about the chemicals we work with so we can take the proper precautions. This is done simply by using, reading, and understanding the SDS, which provides the information needed regarding the safe handling, storage, and use of a hazardous chemical. The hazard communication standard requires that we train you to know the use and location of SDSs. This talk serves as a refresher for the training you received.


We receive SDSs from the manufacturer of the hazardous chemical. SDSs are composed of 16 sections, and these sections will always appear in the same order for any product, regardless of who manufactures a particular chemical.

[Pass out an SDS for one of the chemicals used at the facility to each employee attending this discussion.]

THE STANDARDIZED 16-SECTION SDS INCLUDES: Section 1: Chemical identification. In this section, you will find a product identifier; manufacturer name, address, and phone number; an emergency phone number; and recommended use and restrictions on use.

Section 2: Hazard(s) identification. This discusses all of the chemical’s hazards and required label elements.

[Refer to the Label Elements talk.]

Section 3: Composition/information on ingredients. This section lists the ingredients of the chemical, and trade secret claims are discussed.

Section 4: First-aid measures. This area will tell you what to do if there is an exposure to this chemical in your workplace.

Section 5: Firefighting measures. The section discusses the proper fire extinguishers to use and any specific hazards that can be created should this chemical ignite.

Section 6: Accidental release measures. This section lists emergency procedures, protective equipment, and proper methods of containment and cleanup.

Section 7: Handling and storage. This section discusses how to safely handle and store the chemical, as well as information on how this chemical will react to certain conditions.

Section 8: Exposure control and personal protective equipment (PPE). This section lists permissible exposure limit (PEL) information, threshold limit value (TLV) information, appropriate engineering controls, and PPE required to handle the chemical.

Section 9: Physical and chemical properties. This section tells you the chemical characteristics of the product.

Section 10: Stability and reactivity. This section describes the reactivity hazards of the chemical and the chemical stability information.

Section 11: Toxicological information. This section discusses exposures routes, symptoms of exposure, acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) effects, and the numerical measures of toxicity.

Section 12: Ecological information. This section tells you how the product may harm the environment.

Section 13: Disposal consideration. This section discusses how to properly dispose of the product.

Section 14: Transport information. This section discusses how to safely transport the product.

Section 15: Regulatory information. This section tells you what laws and regulations for use of this chemical may apply and potential means of compliance.

Sections 12 through 15 are not mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) but are part of the SDS requirement and must be listed, even if the sections contain nothing.

Section 16: Other information. This section includes the date of the product preparation and the last revision date of the SDS or chemical.

Remember that you are responsible for your actions. Be alert and pay attention to what you are doing. Take the time to review the SDS for any chemical before you begin to work with it, because, as the name of the OSHA standard implies, you have a “right to know”!

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