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Understand your MSDS with the MS-Demystifier Search ALL our MSDS info


A safe lifting technique sign

Prevent back spasms and other workplace injuries with ergonomic signs like this one from Safety Emporium.


A spasm is an abnormal involuntary muscle contraction such as a twitch or cramp that is accompanied by pain and/or interference with normal function. Cramp-like spasms of muscles are called tetany.

Additional Info

Spasms can have a number of causes. For example, back pain and spasms can be caused by a strain, sprain or injury. Other spasms can be caused by pinched nerves, for example, a hemifacial spasm (one affecting one side of the face only) is caused when an artery presses on one of the facial nerves that controls the muscles on that side of the face.

The science of ergonomics looks at the relationship of man and his work, incorporating the anatomic, physiologic, and mechanical factors involved to achieve safety and efficiency. Following good ergonomic principles can avoid many common workplace injuries such as back strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. See the links under Further Reading for basic ergonomic principles and more.

SDS Relevance

This term usually appears on Section 11 (toxicological information) of a Safety Data Sheet as a symptom of exposure. Exposure to certain chemicals can cause spasms or tremors. If these involve the heart, the condition can be life-threatening.

Read the Safety Data Sheets of all the chemicals used in your workplace before you use them for the first time. Know if any of them have the potential to cause spasms so you can recognize the spasm as a symptom of exposure.

Note: Before OSHA adopted the 2012 version of the Hazard Communication Standard, SDS's were formerly referred to as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's). It is easy to confuse the acronym MSDS with an ergonomics term, MSD, Musculoskeletal Disorder, particularly when used in the plural form. MSD's relate to injuries caused by lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively and are unlikely to appear on an SDS. Search engines are usually incapable of distinguishing between searches for MSDS vs MSD's unless additional search terms are included.

Further Reading

Boxes of N95 respirators

Get your PPE such as made in USA NIOSH-approved N95 masks from Safety Emporium.

See also: myalgia, nystagmus.

Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.

Entry last updated: Monday, January 16, 2023. This page is copyright 2000-2024 by ILPI. Unauthorized duplication or posting on other web sites is expressly prohibited. Send suggestions, comments, and new entry desires (include the URL if applicable) to us by email.

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