Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Goodbye MSDS, Hello SDS!

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Goodbye MSDS, Hello SDS!

Article excerpt

Science teachers who use the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)--a form listing the properties of a particular sub-stance--know that the potential hazards identified by different suppliers aren't always consistent. Unfortunately, this issue goes well beyond the secondary science laboratory: It's a global problem.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hopes to address this and other concerns with a proposed rule change to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), a national standard that addresses chemical management and employee safety. OSHA's proposed rule includes the adoption of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)--a standardized system created by the United Nations to provide a worldwide standard for safety hazards--into the HCS. The goals of the GHS are to

* provide consistent information (e.g., health, physical, environmental hazards) and definitions for hazardous chemicals;

* establish a standard format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and labels; and

* increase understanding by using standardized pictograms and harmonized hazard statements.

With the adoption of the GHS, the revised HCS is expected to include the following major changes:

Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers will be expected to use specific criteria to classify health and physical hazards for pure chemicals and mixtures.

Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be mandated to provide precautions and labels that include signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements for each hazard class and category.

SDS: The SDS will have a 16-section format with specific categories and information, replacing the existing MSDS.

Information and training: Although the GHS does not address training, the proposed HCS will require that workers be trained within two years of the publication of the final rule.

Specific changes

The existing HCS is performance based. It provides guidance for hazard determination but doesn't specify an approach, format, or language to convey hazards and other information on labels or MSDSs. The new GHS has performance-based aspects, but the key provisions are uniformity oriented. …

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