A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (formerly MSDS) is designed to provide both workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance. The SDS is produced by the manufacturer of the chemical, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point etc.), toxicity, 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.

In 2003, the United Nations adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS includes criteria for the classification of health, physical and environmental hazards, as well as specifying what information should be included on labels of hazardous chemicals as well as safety data sheets. The United States was an active participant in the development of the GHS, and is a member of the United Nations bodies established to maintain and coordinate implementation of the system.

SDS'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.
Typical sections of an SDS

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) to communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products. As of June 1, 2015, the HCS will require new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings below:

Section 1: Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
Section 2: Hazard(s) Identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
Section 3: Composition/Information on Ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
Section 4: First-aid Measures includes important symptoms/ effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
Section 5: Fire-fighting Measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
Section 6: Accidental Release Measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
Section 7: Handling and Storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
Section 8: Exposure Controls/Personal Protection lists OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties lists the chemical's characteristics.
Section 10: Stability and Reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
Section 11: Toxicological Information, includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
Section 12: Ecological Information to evaluate the environmental impact of the chemical(s) if it were released to the environment.
Section 13: Disposal Considerations provides guidance on proper disposal practices, recycling or reclamation of the chemical(s) or its container, and safe handling practices.
Section 14: Transport Information provides guidance on classification information for shipping and transporting of hazardous chemical(s) by road, air, rail, or sea.
Section 15: Regulatory Information identifies the safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product that is not indicated anywhere else on the SDS.
Section 16: Other Information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.

Employers must ensure that SDSs are readily accessible to employees. See the OSHA Brief for a more detailed description at www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3514.html

Am I required to keep SDSs in my workplace?

At Rutgers, SDSs should be available for all chemicals that are present at your location. You can bookmark SDSs on a computer that everyone has access to (See manufacturer's links below). Laboratories using Particularly Hazardous Substances should have a paper copy of the SDS on hand at all times.

Please contact REHS at (848) 445-2550 with questions regarding SDS.

Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets

Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets (HSFS) are reference documents prepared by the State of New Jersey that contain information on health hazards, exposure limits, personal protective equipment, proper handling, first aid, and emergency procedures for fires and spills for a particular chemical. HSFS are available both in English and in Spanish.

The library of HSFS is available at the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services website.
English Fact Sheets, Spanish Fact Sheets

University Program, Regulations, and Guidance Links
Safety Data Sheets


Overall Program Management: Health Safety Specialists (By Campus Assignment), or call (848) 445-2550

Tutorial Video

Video tutorial on "Understanding GHS Safety Data Sheets" by OSHA Training Service Inc.