A reader comments: “I am confused by MSDS and SDS since I thought they were the same. When should I use one or the other?”

It may be possible that you are new to the industry and missed the change over from MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) to SDS (Safety Data Sheet) that is part of the United States adopting the Global Harmonized System over a period of the last few years. This process will bring the United States in line with most of the world as to chemical identification that requires chemical manufacturers, distributors and importers provide the SDS information on potential hazards. Although it may seem confusing at first, it will also have other benefits that can enhance the safety of workers while requiring a better knowledge of products being used. The use of a more consistent format and the introduction of icons/pictures that graphically describe potential dangers of some products will go far in overcoming the language barrier that was getting more complex as our labor force became more diverse.

You should only be using the SDS now although you may want to keep any MSDS for a product that does not have the current SDS. Contact your distributor immediately or go on the Internet to find the updated forms. The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical, the physical, health and environmental health hazards, protective measures and safety precautions for handling , storing and transporting chemicals. The information contained in the SDS will usually be in English (although it may be in other languages as well).

The preceding was a brief review and there is much more to know regarding this subject. Go to www.osha.gov or simply use a search engine for more information.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net