from MSDS to SDS
and its implementation. One of the key reasons
While the users of these products may not realize it, considerable costs go into designing product
labels, marketing materials, and related information
about products. Many of these materials, including
the MSDS, were produced and designed by outside
vendors. Further, in exchange for product discounts,
labels and marketing material on many products
were ordered years in advance.
Because of this, the SDS was introduced in stages, giving manufacturers and distributors of these
products, as well as end customers, time to minimize these costs and for end-customers specifically,
time to get to know the new format. The conversion
from MSDS to SDS began in 2012 — by June 1, 2015,
chemical manufacturers were required to start using
the new SDS labeling format. The old MSDS format
could no longer be used on new products after Dec.
1, 2015. By June 1, 2016, all labeling must be in compliance. Also by June 1, 2016, employers are instructed to ensure their workers using products with an
SDS label have a complete and full understanding of
the “signal words” used, along with the pictograms
and icons used to identify hazards.
Key facts about the new SDS
In many ways, the new SDS has all the information
that the old MSDS had except for the most part the
SDS uses icons4 and not words.
However, there are other differences. For
instance, the new SDS has 16 sections instead of
9 as on the old MSDS. The new sections take into
account what could be referred to as environmental issues.
Some of the new sections include Section 12,
Ecological information; Section 13, Disposal considerations; Section 14, Transport information; and
Section 15, Regulatory information.
Other changes require that if chemicals imported
into the U.S. are determined to be hazardous, they
must be classified as such by their manufacturer.
The look of the SDS has changed as well. The
MSDS was usually written in small black print on a
white background. The SDS must also be on a white
background, but framed with a red border to make
it more of an attention-grabber and harder to over-
look. Further, training on how to understand the
new SDS is now required. Previously, in most situ-
ations, there were no requirements that workers be
taught how to read and understand an MSDS.
In addition, questions often arise as to how long
the information on an SDS is valid. Like the MSDS,
the SDS must be updated whenever a manufacturer
becomes aware of “significant new data” about its
product. An example would be if the ingredients
have changed. A date must also be posted as to
when the SDS was updated.
Now the next step is up to you. As mentioned
earlier, employers and managers in all types of
industries, including cleanroom environments, are
required to be familiar with the new SDS format and
make sure their staff understands them as well. As
we discussed, while there is always some confusion
and resistance to a new system, the changes are necessary not only because they help eliminate confusion, but because we are now in a global economy. If
we don’t all speak the same language, at least we can
use a visual language that is widely understood to
improve the health and safety of a significant sector
of the global workforce.
1. Health and Safety in the Cleaning Services
Industry, prepared by the Interfaith Worker
Justice, funded in whole or in part with federal
funds from the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,
under grant number SH20850SHO; 2009.
2. The SDS format does allow for the use of “signal
words.” Examples of signal words are “Danger,”
“Warning,” and “Caution.”
Terry Sambrowski is the executive director of the
National Service Alliance LLC, one of the largest group
purchasing organizations for the professional cleaning and
related industries. www.nansa.org
• 4,679 workers were
killed on the job in 2014.
• On average, almost
90 workers a week —
about 13 each day —
die of their injuries.
• 789 Hispanic or Latino
workers were killed from
in 2014 — on average,
more than 15 deaths
a week or two Latino
workers killed every
single day of the year, all
• Fatal work injuries
accounted for 17 percent
of all fatal work injuries
Statistics provided by OSHA.