July 24, 2014

Changes to Format of Material Safety Data Sheets

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will now be published as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) as part of an effort to align the US’ Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS is an international standard for communications surrounding hazardous materials. Such communications include material labels, packaging, and safety data sheets.

Manufacturers have used MSDS, which are documents sent along with hazardous chemical shipments, to inform end-users of dangers associated with those materials and to provide appropriate safety guidelines. However, not all manufacturers published their MSDS in a consistent format, making it difficult for users to quickly assess hazardous situations when working with products from multiple manufacturers.

Though the information on the SDS will remain nearly identical to that on the MSDS, the SDS will be published in one universal format to mitigate confusion among end-users. Information contained in the SDS will be divided into 16 specifically-sequenced sections, and each section will be identified with a clear and descriptive headline.    

Manufacturers seeking to meet this GHS provision moving forward should be aware of the following key compliance dates:

  • June 2015 – All MSDS must be updated to the SDS format.
  • June 2016 – End-users must have the updated SDS in their workplace for the products they use.

For more information about the GHS, including more details of the new SDS and shipping label requirements, check out these helpful links:


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