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Material Safety Data Sheets - Sources and More

Jane Showalter Thomas, P.E., CPEA

Course Outline

Workers who use chemicals and those who work nearby must be made aware of the hazards associated with those chemicals, how to reduce the risk of being exposed to them, and what to do in the case of an incident associated with those chemicals. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) available to workers for each hazardous chemical to which they could get exposed. MSDSs contain a wealth of information about the chemicals, their hazards, and how to reduce the risk of exposure. However, they are long documents, filled with technical information, making it difficult to understand and/or find the bits of information that you need. Plus it can sometimes be a challenge to simply get a copy of an MSDS for a product.

This course will show you various ways to acquire MSDSs, help you to understand the information on MSDSs, and share a few examples of how you might be able to use MSDS information to reduce risks.

This course focuses on MSDSs as required by OSHA for U.S. workers. Many other countries also have standards.

This one-hour course is organized as follows:

1. Sources of MSDSs

2. Summary of MSDS Contents

3. Using MSDS Information
a. Chemical Storage Considerations
b. Personal Protection Equipment Considerations
c. Incident Response Considerations

The course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this one-hour course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for the following:

Benefit to Attendees

Attendees of this course will have more tools to help them find MSDSs for chemical products of interest, ensuring that all workers have access to information on the hazards of those chemicals. A key benefit of this course is that attendees will be able to understand and use more of the very useful information available on those long and technical documents.

Course Introduction

Protecting workers from exposure to chemicals is a multi-faceted process, including chemical selection, process and product design, training, personal protection equipment, emergency preparedness, and more. Many of these steps require design, guidance, and direction from highly trained health and safety professionals. But one key element of worker protection should be readily available to all involved, including the workers themselves - the Material Safety Data Sheet.

This course provides guidance on how to acquire MSDSs, describes what information they contain, and shows how to use some of that information to protect workers and others from chemical exposure. This course provides general information intended to increase awareness. It should not be construed as health and safety advice. For information on controlling specific chemical hazards in your work place, contact your supervisor or your health and safety representative.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file (87 KB) Material Safety Data Sheets - Sources and More. You need to open or download this document to study this course.

Course Summary

One of the key elements of programs to protect workers from exposure to chemicals is the use of MSDSs, which provide information on the chemical hazards and how to control them. In order to reduce the risk of exposure, managers, line supervisors, engineers, workers who use chemicals, and those who work near chemical use areas all must have access to MSDSs, have a fundamental understanding of their contents, and know how to locate and use the information.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

OSHA websites:
OSHA Homepage

University MSDS websites:
New Mexico State University links to manufacturers MSDS sites
Purdue University MSDS Search

Other Free Internet MSDS sources:
MSDS Search
Interactive Learning Paradigms, Inc. - links to many MSDS databases

On-line Glossaries of MSDS Terms:
Interactive Learning Paradigms, Inc. - Glossary
MSDS Search - MSDS Terms and Abbreviations


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.