Material Safety Data Sheets

The purpose of the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) HCS (Hazard Communication Standard), is to inform all employees about any hazardous chemicals to which they may be exposed in the workplace.
OSHA has established Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) as the primary instrument for transmitting detailed information about any and all chemicals used in the school environment. Almost every education support professional employee will work with or handle chemicals in the course of their employment. MSDS will be sent to the school district by the company producing the chemical. These sheets should be sent with the first shipment of any chemical and with the first shipment after an MSDS has been updated.These MSDS must be kept on file and readily
available at all regular work sites and storage facilities.
A material safety data sheet is a written description of each hazardous chemical used in a workplace. MSDS are the primary source of information about workplace chemicals for employers and workers. Each contains comprehensive technical information about a particular substance and explains the risks, precautions, and potential solutions related to hazardous chemicals, both during normal work and in emergency situations.The MSDS is at the heart of OSHA’s
Hazard Communication standard.
Many school districts are remiss when it comes to making this information readily available for the viewing by school employees.Your local association can be very helpful by working with the Employer to make them realize the importance of all employees having knowledge about and access to MSDS. However, this should not prevent you from asking your supervisor and/orprincipal to see a copy of all MSDS. Carefully look through all of those sheets and determine which chemicals you work with or which chemicals may be used by other school employees in your work area. Ask for a copy of all of those data sheets.
If a student is exposed to a chemical for which you are responsible or which is used in your work area, and that student suffers an adverse reaction, you may be liable even if you had no knowledge of these adverse reactions or that these chemicals were being used in your work area. Ignorance may be no excuse. An MSDS often contains at least nine (9) sections of very important information which you should know:
  1. Name of Product including the name of the chemical and/or trade name.
  2. Hazardous Ingredients section actually lists the names of all the chemicals that can be harmful.
  3. Physical and chemical characteristics including appearance, odor, boiling point, solubility in water, vapor pressure, etc.
  4. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data includes the temperature at which the product ignites (flash point), extinguishing media, special fire fighting procedures, and unusual fire and explosion hazards.
  5. Health Hazard Data lists symptoms of overexposure (skin rash, dizziness, headache, etc.) and emergency first aid procedures.
  6. Reactivity Data includes information about the stability of the chemical and how it reacts to such changes as heat and sunlight, conditions to avoid, other chemicals with which this chemical is incompatible, hazardous decomposition products, etc.
  7. Spill or Leak Procedures includes steps to be taken in case the material is released or spilled, and waste disposal method.
  8. Special Protection Information includes information about respiratory protection, ventilation required, and personal protection items necessary for safe use (rubber gloves, respirator, eye protection, and other protective equipment).
  9. Special Precautions is a section which usually lists precautions to be taken in handling and storing of this chemical and any other precaution of which the company producing the chemical believes that the consumer should be aware.
 In addition, the chemical company will most often have information at the bottom of the MSDS on how to make contact with the company in an emergency medical situation. The chemical company will often include a cover letter reviewing such information as how to best use this product.Take the time to ask for and to read all MSDS for any chemical for which you are responsible or which may be used in your work area.