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MSJC > Safety > Material Safety Data Sheets

Material Safety Data Sheets

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is designed to provide both workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance. MSDS's include information such as physical data, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures. These are of particular use if a spill or other accident occurs.

Who are MSDS's for?

MSDS's are meant for:

  • Employees who may be occupationally exposed to a hazard at work.
  • Employers who need to know the proper methods for storage etc.
  • Emergency responders such as fire fighters, hazardous material crews, emergency medical technicians, and emergency room personnel.

What does an MSDS look like?

The formats of MSDS's tend to vary, but they usually convey the same basic kinds of information.

Where can I get MSDS's?

  • Your laboratory or workplace should have a collection of MSDS that came with the hazardous chemicals you have ordered (don't throw them away!)
  • Most universities and businesses have a collection somewhere on site. Check with your Environmental or Occupational Health Office or science librarian. Some organizations use commercial services to obtain printed, FAX or on-line copies of MSDS's.
  • You can get them from the distributor that sold you the material. If you can't find them then contact the manufacturer's customer service department.
  • The Internet has a wide range of FREE resources. 
  • You can purchase software or internet services.

What agencies or regulations require us to keep MSDS's?


  • The U.S. Government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for the Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200. The purpose of this standard is "to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. This transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets and employee training."