About this FAQ
This FAQ (list of Frequently Asked Questions) was started by ILPI in 1995 after readers of our most popular web page, Where to Find MSDS's on the Internet, began asking us for help. By March of 2001, the FAQ had grown so long that we decided to subdivide the FAQ into several sections to make it more readable.
With OSHA's regulatory updates under the Globally Harmonized Standard (GHS), the "name" of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) has formally changed to Safety Data Sheets (SDS). We are using both terms on this site, with an interim emphasis of the transition by placing the "M" or word "Material" in parentheses. See What are Material Safety Data Sheets and Safety Data Sheets (MSDS and SDS)? for more information.
Each section of this FAQ is a fairly broad category, so there is bound to be some overlap between the sections. If you still can't find an answer to your question after reading through the various sections, see the last question under Miscellaneous.
Table of Contents
- What are Material Safety Data Sheets and Safety Data Sheets (MSDS and SDS)?
- Who are (M)SDS's for?
- What does an MSDS or SDS look like?
- Are there any tutorials that explain how to read an (M)SDS?
- Where can I get (M)SDS's?
How should we handle (M)SDS requests for materials that do not require an (M)SDS?
Who do I have to give an (M)SDS to and what is "downstream flow"?
What are my rights to an (M)SDS?
- When were (Material) Safety Data Sheets "invented"?
- What agencies or regulations require us to keep (M)SDS's?
- What organizations are exempt from OSHA's (M)SDS regulations?
- What is the minimum amount of material that requires an (M)SDS?
- What items do (or do not) require (M)SDS's?
- What items or formats are required on an (M)SDS?
- What do these terms or abbreviations on my (M)SDS mean?
- Is there a unique identification code for each chemical?
- Does OSHA determine what information is required under health hazard information or can we use our own data?
- Do I need to make a new (M)SDS if I mix several other chemicals together (each of which already has an (M)SDS)?
- Do I have to write an (M)SDS for new chemicals that I create in the laboratory?
- As a distributor, can we change the name and address on an (M)SDS?
- Can the identity of a chemical be withheld on an (M)SDS as a trade secret?
- Who can write an (M)SDS?
- Where does one submit (M)SDS's for official approval?
- Are (M)SDS's copyrighted/copyrightable?
- Is there an XML standard for (M)SDS's?
- How do I know if my (M)SDS implementation is complete enough to satisfy OSHA?
- Do I have to keep every (M)SDS that I receive?
- If I have the same chemical from different manufacturers, do I need to keep all their (M)SDS's?
- Can I throw away old or outdated (M)SDS's?
- Where can I find an (M)SDS for an old chemical?
- What if I need an (M)SDS and the manufacturer no longer exists?
- Are resources such as the Merck Index or Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) acceptable substitutes for (M)SDS's?
- How come I don't always get (M)SDS's when I order chemicals? I thought
manufacturers were required to give me one for every chemical I purchase.
- When does an (M)SDS need to be revised or replaced?
- Do I have to use hard copies or can I use a computer database for (M)SDS's?
- What is the "ready access" requirement and what is a "barrier" to ready access?
- What are the penalties for non-compliance with (M)SDS requirements?
- We have a large site. Does having one site-wide (M)SDS repository satisfy OSHA?
- What requirements are there for contractors or multi-employer sites?
- How does OSHA want me to organize my (M)SDS filing system?
- What's the best solution for me? How do you recommend I handle my (M)SDS collection?
- Does the Where to Find (M)SDS's on the Internet
page meet the intent of OSHA for (M)SDS availability in the
- Does distributing (M)SDS's to my employees fulfill OSHA's hazard communication training requirement?
- Some of my employees don't speak English. Do I have to make any special provisions for these workers?
- How much does it cost us to maintain (M)SDS's manually?
- Are we protected from liability if someone is injured because an (M)SDS supplied to us is wrong but we had no way of knowing about the error?
- Where can I find (M)SDS suppliers or software?
- Where can I find (M)SDS or safety-related books and training materials?
- When we import a chemical, do we need to make a new (M)SDS?
- Where can I get (M)SDS's in other languages such as Spanish?
- What language does an (M)SDS need to be in?
- Where can I get information about European requirements for (M)SDS format?
- How do Canadian (M)SDS's differ from the U.S.?
- What about other countries?
- Are there any iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android etc. apps for (M)SDS's?
- Are (M)SDS's really any good? For example, the (M)SDS for water says to flush with water in case of skin contact.
- I need an (M)SDS expert witness.
- My question is not on this list. Can you help?
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