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Read your Material Safety Data Sheets

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Exposure to almost any material can be dangerous—usually as the result of improper use or storage.

An MSDS provides valuable facts about a material that can pose dangers to workers.

The first sections contain information required by OSHA. This includes:

  • Product name and manufacturer information, including an emergency telephone number
  • Information about the product’s ingredients
  • Hazards of the material, including how harmful exposures occur, and signs and symptoms of exposure
  • First-aid action in case of exposure
  • Firefighting procedures
  • What to do if a spill or leak occurs
  • How to prevent exposure, including what personal protective equipment to use
  • Physical and chemical properties, such as odor and boiling point
  • How the ingredients react when mixed with other chemicals or when stored or handled incorrectly.

The remaining sections of an MSDS detail how toxic the material is to people, how it affects the environment, proper methods of transportation and disposal, and which particular government regulations the material falls under—topics generally not necessary for most workers.

No matter what your job, look over an entire MSDS to determine which information applies to your particular situation.

Vince Cahill is the president of VCE Solutionsin Waynesboro, Pa., www.vcesolutions.com.

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