What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
Material Safety Data Sheets are very important to you and your co-workers. Nearly one-third of all workplace injuries and illnesses are related to exposure to controlled products, usually due to lack of knowledge. Your employer must ensure that workers who work with or near a controlled product must receive appropriate training.
You Need to Know:
That chemicals can be harmful to your health
That MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheets
That WHMIS stands for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System
What WHMIS symbols on containers mean.
That seeing a WHMIS symbol means you should check the Material Safety Data Sheets for that product
How to use Material Safety Data Sheets to work safely with a project
Where the Material Safety Data Sheets are kept
Who is managing the Material Safety Data Sheets
How to report missing Material Safety Data Sheets
Some symbols (WHMIS) may be helpful
The Nine Parts to an MSDS
Product identification and use: A description of the substance and its intended use
Hazardous ingredients: The proportions of the controlled or dangerous ingredients
Physical data: The type of material whether solid, liquid, or gas. What colour is it, and does it give off odors? Is it lighter or heavier than air? Lighter or heavier than water?
Fire or explosive hazard: Information regarding the dangers of potential hazards
Reactivity data: How does it react with other products and which ones?
Toxicological properties: Does it cause health problems or birth defects? How does it enter our bodies?
Preventative measures: How do we protect ourselves with the use of engineering or administrative controls or PPE?Storage and handling?
First aid measures: How do we treat for over exposure?
Preparation information: When was the MSDS prepared or revised?
Can you answer these questions before using controlled products?
Can this product harm your health?
Can this product burn or explode?
Does your work site need any control measures such as additional ventilation?
Does this product require any special handling precautions?
Do you need any personal protective equipment? Is it available on the work site?
Do you need to be careful of mixing this product with any other(s)? Which one(s)?
Does this product require any special storage requirements?
Do you know what to do in case of fire or explosion?
Do you know the first aid measures in case of over exposure?
Do you know what to do in case of a spill or leak?
Do you know where the emergency response equipment is and how to use it?
If in doubt, shout!
If you cannot answer any of these questions, talk to your supervisor, foreman, or safety officer before using the product.
Safety at Home
If you are using these same products at home, make everyone aware of the dangers.
Remember that many of the products that you use at home are not required to have a material safety data sheet. But, ask for them where you purchase products. Some retail chains are making an effort to supply the consumer with the information they need.
If you cannot get an MSDS, read the label. Many product labels have a lot of information that would be included on MSDS. If you are concerned that the chemicals you are using in your household could harm you, contact the manufacturer for additional information, or to be completely safe, look for alternative products without harmful chemicals.
Use extreme caution when mixing chemical- containing products, they could react in ways that you would not expect.
For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.