A material safety data sheet or MSDS is a special form used by companies which deal with hazardous chemicals and anywhere else where there are chemicals being used to accomplish some process. This form contains material information on a certain chemical, chemical compound, mixture, plastic or any substance used in a product. This typically includes a summary of physical track data like the melting point or boiling point, statistics data, help data and anything else about the material system such as health effects, toxicity, proper disposal, first aid in case of exposure, etc. This information can greatly help emergency personnel as well as workers gain the proper level of awareness of the procedures they need to adhere to in handling chemicals in the workplace, and can therefore lower the level of risk involved in the manufacture or construction of your product.
Material data can provide information that can save lives, which is why it is so important. Material safety data sheets are usually not created for the use of general consumers, but focus on the hazards that might be encountered by people who work with certain chemicals and harmful substances. Since there is usually no set form to follow, what is included in the material data varies from one company to the other, even if they might deal with the same substance.
If you’re concerned that your business should meet international requirements with your material data, this is what you need to do:
- Concern yourself with accuracy. Make sure that your material data has been double-checked and is accurate. There are health and safety authorities that review material data, and if they find that there is a glaring error in yours, your business might be put into question. There is also no telling what consequences this might have in your workplace, since chemicals are generally delicate and an inaccuracy in a report concerning the proper handling or disposal of something might actually prove to be very disastrous. Also, some jurisdictions impose a duty of care on companies that use chemicals and require that the material safety data sheet be updated after a cycle of three or five years.
- Store all information. Keep raw data on the properties of the chemicals or substances which are used by your company and make them available for easy reference. This will not only make it easy for you to write a material data safety sheet, but it also makes it easy to access the information in case of an extensive research for product improvement.
- Make sure that your material data sheet includes all information required by the authority in your country or state. This might include but is not limited to the material name, type, specific gravity, melting temperature, operating temperature, effects when mixed with acids, alcohol, bases and oxidizing agents, etc. Some places also try to build a greater environmental awareness, and in these, an MSDS might be required to include the risk and safety statements, plus the impact of the chemical or substance to the environment, including an evaluation of the negative influence the substance might have when it is introduced to water.
If you’re still worried about how to present your material data, you can also enlist the help of companies which offer services on collecting, writing and updating data sheets for your material data. There are also material data management software that are available online which provide system formats for setting up material data. Materiality is one such software specially for plastics engineering.