Safe Solutions

Material safety data sheets

A wide assortment of potentially hazardous chemicals—and materials that contain potentially hazardous chemicals—can be found at job sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires these products and materials to have accompanying material safety data sheets (MSDSs) that detail the products' natures and related hazards. Making MSDSs available to workers is an easy part of complying with OSHA's hazard communication requirements; a more challenging aspect is making certain all roofing workers understand MSDSs so they can avoid or minimize chemical exposures.

Assessing hazards

OSHA regulates chemical hazard evaluation and transmittal of related information to employers and employees in its hazard communication standard, 29 CFR §1910.1200. The standard requires manufacturers to assess the hazards of the chemicals they produce; most manufacturers post current MSDSs on their Web sites for easy access. Chemical product distributors are required to provide MSDSs to employers who must maintain them in their workplaces.

OSHA requires MSDSs to be in English and contain the following information for each chemical product used: