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What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) | Why is it Needed for International Shipping 2020?

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) | Why is it Needed for International Shipping 2020?

Depending on the type of your product when importing from China, you might need to obtain an MSDS. But what exactly is an MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet and why is it important? In this article, we will focus on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) definition, content, and purpose. 

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

Firstly, let us see what this data sheet is. Material Safety Data Sheet is a technical document required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that offers accurate and comprehensive information on a regulated product concerning:

  • Health consequences of exposure to the product
  • Threat assessment related to the handling, storage or use of the product and measure to protect employees at risk of exposure
  • Emergency methods

The data sheet may be written, typed or otherwise conveyed, and must meet the criteria of WHMIS legislation regarding availability, design, and content. The law allows for flexibility in design and terminology but includes the completion of a minimum number of information categories and the listing of all hazardous materials meeting certain requirements subject to exemptions provided under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act.

Material Safety Data Sheet sample
Material Safety Data Sheet Sample

Further Reading: Why Use Insurance for Shipping from China? | Importer’s Guide

The Purpose of the Data Sheet

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is the second element of the WHMIS information delivery system and is necessary to supplement the alert information provided on labels. The third element of the system is the training of employees on hazard data about products, including instruction in the content and significance of information on the MSDS. 

The aim of the Material Safety Data Sheet information is to provide the end-user with chemical protection and danger information (employees who are in touch with hazardous chemicals, employees who store hazardous chemicals, and emergency responders such as firefighters, hazardous material crews and emergency medical technicians).

Moreover, Material Data Safety Sheets are a vital component of the United States OSHA Hazard Communication Policy. This policy specifies: anyone who can handle, interact with or is in touch with hazardous materials must have access to the Material Safety Data Sheets.”

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The Material Safety Data Sheet Content

The OSHA specification format for MSDS include having the following categories on each Material Safety Data Sheet:

  1. Name and Contact Information of the Manufacturer 
  2. Identity Information/Dangerous Ingredients
  3. Physical and Chemical Characteristics
  4. Fire and Explosion Danger Information
  5. Reactivity Information
  6. Health Danger Information
  7. Cautions for Handling and Use in Safety
  8. Control Measures

Chemical manufacturers, suppliers, and employers with chemicals in the workplace must comply with GHS MSDS regulation.

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