Safety data sheets — formally known as material safety data sheets (MSDS) — include information on the hazards of chemical products.
In foodservice, these chemicals include products like sanitizers, detergents, degreasers, and cleaners.
To keep your customers, employees, and yourself safe from these chemicals, it’s important to understand a safety data sheet and its components.
This article explains everything you need to know about safety data sheets for foodservice chemicals.
The anatomy of a safety data sheet
A safety data sheet is a document that communicates information about a chemical’s hazards.
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) — created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — requires that each safety data sheet include the following information about a chemical product (1):
- Hazard(s) identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First-aid measures
- Fire-fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information (non-mandatory)
- Disposal considerations (non-mandatory)
- Transport information (non-mandatory)
- Regulatory information (non-mandatory)
- Other information
Sections 1 through 8 contain general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, chemical composition, safe handling and storage practices, and emergency control measures.
Sections 9 through 11 and 16 contain other technical and scientific information.
OSHA’s HCS does not require sections 12 through 15 since these areas are handled by other agencies.
It’s the chemical manufacturer’s responsibility to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce and prepare labels and safety data sheets that communication this information.
OSHA’s HCS requires each safety data sheet to contain 16 sections, each covering information on a chemical’s hazards. Chemicals in your kitchen that should have a safety data sheet include products like detergents, sanitizers, degreasers, and other cleaners.
How to store and maintain safety data sheets
As the manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the safety data sheet for each foodservice chemical you use is readily accessible to your staff.
This is commonly done by maintaining a physical binder.
You can store safety data sheets on a computer but you must ensure that all employees have immediate access to these files without leaving their work area.
When stored on a computer, you must also have a back-up in case of a power outage or other emergency.
If you don’t have a safety data sheet for a foodservice chemical, contact the manufacture to obtain one.
It works well to designate an employee or yourself responsible for obtaining and maintaining the safety data sheets.
Don’t forget to train new staff and regularly retrain current staff on the location of the safety data sheets and how to handle the chemicals appropriately based on the information or what to do in a situation that requires first aid or other emergency measures.
Make sure your staff know where and how to access the safety data sheets for every foodservice chemical in your kitchen as well as how to handle them safely.
The bottom line
The safety data sheet — formally known as the material safety data sheet (MSDS) — communicates information about a chemical’s hazards.
Each safety data sheet consists of 16 sections, each covering a different element about the chemical, such as its chemical composition, first-aid measures, and handling and storage.
As the manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure your employees know how and where to access the safety data sheets as well as how to handle the chemicals properly.
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