How to Identify MSDS Label Information

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Vital information must be easily accessed when an accident involving chemicals occurs. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that Material Safety Data Sheets and labels accompany every chemical purchased for business. Each MSDS lists chemical content, special handling regulations, usage, storage and disposal instructions. Labels contain product-specific information usually depicted as color-coded pictographs. One caveat: Not every manufacturer lists all information and not all information listed will be enough information for every incident. MSDS books must be stored in plain sight and all employees must know where to access them and how to identify MSDS label information. It's your right-to-know. It's also the law.

1 Search

Search for a color-coded triangle on the body of the product. The material, manufacturer name, address and hazard warnings should be listed.

2 Read the hazard warning

Read the hazard warning and note the colors of the triangles. Blue denotes a health hazard; red, flammability; and yellow, instability. White means that there's special hazard information that is imperative to know.

3 Find on each color a number zero

Find on each color a number zero to four. Zero means that there's no hazard regarding the triangle color. Four means that there's a severe hazard.

  • Use labels as a springboard to the more detailed information on the MSDS sheets. They are meant to be used together to render a more complete description of the chemical.

Cheryl Hosmer teaches online courses in writing and community journalism. She has written for various newspapers since 1983. She teamed up with author Marshall Terrill in 2001 as an editor of celebrity biographies. Hosmer holds a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from Madonna University. Her educational emphasis was poverty studies and journalism.

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