Skip Content



Safety Data Sheets Under the New Globally Harmonized System

Quick Tips #250

New chemicals are developed every day and for use in an ever-widening variety of applications. Providing accurate, clear and concise information to people who use, handle or store hazardous industrial chemicals is paramount.

On March 26, 2012, the Department of Labor adopted the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals—otherwise known as GHS. This change ensures that OSHA's current Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is aligned with internationally-developed guidelines for the categorization and labeling of hazardous substances.

Under the new GHS ruling, material safety data sheets (MSDS), will be referred to and called SDS (or Safety Data Sheets). The new standards affect any workplace that manufactures, uses, transports, or stores hazardous chemicals. One specific change in this ruling is to the ANSI Standardized MSDS format. The original 16-section MSDS format created by ANSI Z400.1 (2010 Rev.) will be replaced by the new SDS under the GHS system for classification for hazardous chemicals.

SDS's are the backbone of the Hazardous Communication System (HCS). They provide comprehensive and specific chemical information used not only by workplaces that manufacture, use, transport or store hazardous chemicals, but also by emergency responders, poison control centers and transporters of dangerous goods.

The standardized 16-section SDS mirrors the American National Standard for Hazardous Workplace Chemical's - Hazard Evaluation and Safety Data Sheet and Precautionary Labeling Preparation, ANSI Z400.1/Z129-1-2010. To be compliant, the SDS must have all 16 sections. OSHA however will not be enforcing sections 12-15 as they fall outside of their jurisdiction.

SDS (GHS Format) in Comparison to the ANSI Z400.1 MSDS 16-section Format.

New GHS SDS Format


ANSI Z400.1/Z129-2010 MSDS/SDS Format



Identification of the Substance or Mixture and of the Supplier

  • GHS product identifier.
  • Other means of identification.
  • Recommended use of the chemical and restrictions on use.
  • Supplier's details (including name, address, phone number, etc.).
  • Emergency phone number.

Product and Company Identification

This section names the material and links the MSDS to the label and shipping documents. It also identifies the name of the manufacturer, importer or other responsible party, along with a mailing address and phone number for obtaining additional information.



Hazards Identification

  • GHS classification of the substance/mixture and any national or regional information.
  • GHS label elements, including precautionary statements. (Hazard symbols may be provided as a graphical reproduction of the symbols in black and white or the name of the symbol, e.g., flame, skull and crossbones.)
  • Other hazards which do not result in classification (e.g., dust explosion hazard) or are not covered by the GHS.

Hazard Identification

Hazard identification is divided into the following four subsections:

  • Emergency overview
  • OSHA regulatory status
  • Potential health effects; and potential environmental effects
  • Physical state of material (health, physical and environmental hazards that require immediate attention listed in the emergency overview

The OSHA regulatory status subsection indicates if the material is hazardous or non-hazardous with respect to the OSHA Standard. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with exposure to the material are given in the potential effects subsection. Potential environmental effects and provides information related to effects associated with release of the material into the environment.



Composition/Information on Ingredients Substance

  • Chemical identity
  • Common name, synonyms, etc.
  • CAS number, EC number, etc.
  • Impurities and stabilizing additives which are themselves classified and which contribute to the classification of the substance


  • The chemical identity and concentration, or concentration ranges, of all ingredients which are hazardous within the meaning of the GHS and are present above their cutoff levels.

Composition/Information on Ingredients

Identifies the components or by-products and impurities that contribute to the material's hazards.

  • Chemical Name
  • Common Name or synonyms
  • Corresponding CAS Number
  • Percentages or ranges of percentages


First Aid Measures

  • Description of necessary measures, subdivided according to the different routes of exposure, i.e., inhalation, skin and eye contact, and ingestion.
  • Most important symptoms/effects, acute and delayed.
  • Indication of immediate medical attention and special treatment needed, if necessary.

First Aid Measures

Divided into two subsections;

  • First aid procedures including emergency and first aid instructions for each potential route of entry. Intended information for untrained responders.
  • Notes to physicians. Additional antidotes, specific treatments and diagnostic procedures intended for use by trained healthcare professionals.


Firefighting Measures

  • Suitable (and unsuitable) extinguishing media.
  • Specific hazards arising from the chemical (e.g., nature of any hazardous combustion products).
  • Special protective equipment and precautions for firefighters.

Firefighting Measures

Describes specific hazards arising from a fire and explosive properties of the material, along with appropriate extinguishing media for the fire, special protective equipment and firefighting precautions.



Accidental Release Measures

  • Personal precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures.
  • Environmental precautions.
  • Methods and materials for containment and cleaning up.

Accidental Release Measures

Information for responding to spills, leaks or releases in order to prevent or minimize the adverse health effects on persons, property and the environment. Also included may be information on personal protective equipment, containment equipment, clean-up equipment, clean-up techniques, environmental precautions and specific reporting requirements.



Handling and Storage

  • Precautions for safe handling.
  • Conditions for safe storage, including any incompatibilities.

Handling and Storage

Provides guidance on safe handling and storage practices. Emphasis is on proper unique properties of the materials.



Exposure Controls/Personal Protection.

  • Control parameters, e.g., occupational exposure limit values or biological limit values.
  • Appropriate engineering controls.
  • Individual protection measures, such as personal protective equipment.

Exposure Controls/Personal Protection

Divided into three subsections:

Subsection 1. The established exposure guidelines include, but are not limited to, OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIHs) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs), and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs).

Subsection 2. Gives consideration for personal protective equipment guidance eye/face protection, skin protection, respiratory protection and general hygiene.

Subsection 3. Where engineering controls help minimize the hazards.



Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Appearance (physical state, color, etc.).
  • Odor.
  • Odor threshold.
  • pH.
  • Melting point/freezing point.
  • Initial boiling point and boiling range.
  • Flash point.
  • Evaporation rate.
  • Flammability (solid, gas).
  • Upper/lower flammability or explosive limits.
  • Vapor pressure.
  • Vapor density.
  • Relative density.
  • Solubility (is).
  • Partition coefficient: n-octane/water.
  • Auto ignition temperature.
  • Decomposition temperature.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Identifies the physical and chemical properties of the material. If applicable and relevant, the following characteristics must be detailed: appearance, odor, odor threshold, physical state, pH, melting/freezing point, initial boiling point and boiling range, flash point, evaporation rate, flammability (solid, gas), upper/lower flammability or explosive limits, vapor pressure, vapor density, specific gravity or relative density, solubility, partial coefficient: n-octanol/water, auto-ignition temperature and decomposition temperature. If a characteristic is included, but not applicable or relevant, indicate so.



Stability and Reactivity

  • Chemical stability.
  • Possibility of hazardous reactions.
  • Conditions to avoid (e.g., static discharge, shock or vibration).
  • Incompatible materials.
  • Hazardous decomposition products.

Stability and Reactivity

Describes the potential hazards associated with the stability and reactivity of the material under specified conditions. Chemical stability, conditions to avoid, incompatible materials, hazardous decomposition products and the possibility of hazardous reactions should be addressed.



Toxicological Information

Concise but complete and comprehensible description of the various toxicological (health) effects and the available data used to identify those effects, including:

  • Information on the likely routes of exposure. (inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact);
  • Symptoms related to the physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics.
  • Delayed and immediate effects and also chronic effects from short- and long-term exposure.
  • Numerical measures of toxicity (such as acute toxicity estimates).

Toxicological Information

Provides toxicological information that can be used to assess human health hazards or potential health effects of the material and / or its components. Acute dose effects, repeated dose effects, irritation, corrosivity, skin and respiratory sensitization, carcinogenicity, neurological effects, genetic effects, reproductive effects, developmental effects and target organ effects data may be listed.



Ecological Information

  • Ecotoxicity (aquatic and terrestrial).
  • Persistence and degradability.
  • Bioaccumulative potential.
  • Mobility in soil.
  • Other adverse effects.

Ecological Information

Information to assist in the evaluation of the environmental impact of the material and / or its components if released to the environment is provided in this section. Ecotoxicity, persistence / degradability, bioaccumulation / accumulation, mobility in environmental media and other adverse effects may be addressed.



Disposal Considerations

  • Description of waste residues and information on their safe handling and methods of disposal, including the disposal of any contaminated packaging.

Disposal Considerations

Provides information that may be useful in the proper disposal, recycling or reclamation of the material and / or its container.



Transport Information

  • UN Number.
  • UN proper shipping name.
  • Transport Hazard Class.
  • Packing group, if applicable.
  • Marine pollutant (Yes/No).
  • Special precautions which a user needs to be aware of or needs to comply with in connection with transport or conveyance either within or outside their premises.

Transport Information

Basic classification information and special precautionary information to help a knowledgeable user prepare a material for shipment is given in this section. This section is not intended to contain every regulatory detail involving the transportation of a material.



Regulatory Information

  • Safety, health and environmental regulations specific for the product in question.

Regulatory Information

Information on the regulatory status that is useful for compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations. Content and organization of this section depends on where the material is manufactured or used. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all of the regulations that may apply. U.S. Federal regulations / agencies shown may include the following: Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), OSHA, Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).



Other Information Including Information on Preparation and Revision of the SDS


Other Information

Any additional information that may be useful. It may include label text, hazard ratings, preparation and revision information or key/legend that explains the abbreviations used in the MSDS.


Companies will have nearly two years to train their employees on the new GHS system. U.S. employees will need to be up to date in both the old and new regulations before December 2013, this will allow for a smoother transition to the new GHS SDS format. OSHA's final rule imposes the following deadlines on U.S. companies involved with chemicals:

  • May 25, 2012: Transition period commences.
  • December 1, 2013: Deadline to train employees on new labels.
  • June 1, 2015: Deadline to comply with all amended provisions.
  • June 1, 2016: Deadline to update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs, and provide any additional employee training.

Other significant changes under the new rule include:

  • Labels and SDSs will follow a more standardized format and contain a greater number of prescribed elements based on the chemical's classification.
  • Formulators of mixtures will no longer be able to prepare an SDS by attaching component SDSs to a cover sheet; they must now provide a new SDS for the mixture itself.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   When do SDSs need to be updated?
A.   The information required on the safety data sheet (SDS) will remain essentially the same as that in the current standard. The current Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) indicates what information has to be included on an SDS but does not specify a format for presentation or order of information. The revised HCS requires that the information on the SDS is presented using consistent headings in a specified sequence.
Q.   How is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) changing under the revised Hazard Communication Standard?
A.   For pipes of less than 3/4" in diameter the use of a permanently legible tag is recommended.
Q.   Where can I get more information on the GHS and the impact on the HCS?
A.   You can find information on the GHS and any impact it may have related to OSHA on the OSHA website:

ANSI Z400.1
OSHA Quick Card on SDS

(Rev. 12/2012)

Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at

Think Safety. Think Grainger.®
Grainger has the products, services and resources to help keep employees safe and healthy while operating safer facilities. You’ll also find a network of safety resources that help you stay in compliance and protect employees from hazardous situations. Count on Grainger for lockout tagout, fall protection equipment, confined space products, safety signs, personal protective equipment (PPE), emergency response and so much more!

Please Note:
The content in this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific compliance questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.

©2015 W.W. Grainger, Inc.