1‑800‑315‑COOP About Us Careers COOPERconnectFrançais

Understanding MSDS

How to read and use Material Safety Data Sheets

What is a WHMIS 2015 Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are summary documents that provide information about the hazards of a product and advice about safety precautions. SDSs are usually written by the manufacturer or supplier of the product. In some circumstances, an employer may be required to prepare an SDS (e.g., when the product is produced and used exclusively in that workplace).

SDSs provide more detailed hazard information about the product than the label. They are an important resource for workplaces and workers to help you learn more about the product(s) used. Use this information to identify the hazards of the products you use and to protect yourself from those hazards, including safe handling and emergency measures.

SDSs tell users what the hazards of the product are, how to use the product safely, what to expect if the recommendations are not followed, how to recognize symptoms of exposure, and what to do if emergencies occur.

When would I use an SDS?

Always be familiar with the hazards of a product BEFORE you start using it. You should look at an SDS, match the name of the chemical on your container to the one on the SDS, know the hazards, understand safe handling and storage instructions, as well as understand what to do in an emergency.

What information is on the WHMIS 2015 SDS?

There are sixteen (16) categories of information that must be present on an SDS in Canada. These categories are specified in the Hazardous Products Regulations and include: 1. Identification 2. Hazardous Identification 3. Composition/Information on ingredients 4. First aid measures 5. Fire-fighting measures 6. Accidental release measures 7. Handling and storage 8. Exposure controls/Personal protection 9. Physical and chemical properties 10. Stability and reactivity 11. Toxicological information 12. Ecological information 13. Disposal considerations 14. Transport information 15. Regulatory information 16. Other information – date of the latest revision of the SDS. ***Section 12 to 15 require the headings to be present, but under Canadian regulations, the supplier has the option to not provide information in these sections.

As an employer, do I have responsibilities for SDSs?

Yes. Employers will be required to make sure that all hazardous products (as defined by the Hazardous Products Regulations have an up-to-date SDS when it enters the workplace. The SDSs must be readily available to the workers who are exposed to the hazardous product, and to the health and safety committee or representative.

Employers may computerize the SDS information so long as:

  • all employees have access to and are trained on how to use the computer or device,
  • the computers/devices are kept in working order, and
  • the employer makes a hard copy of the SDS available to the employee or health and safety committee/representative upon request.

As mentioned, in some circumstances, an employer may be required to prepare an SDS (e.g., when the product is produced and used in the workplace).

For more information please visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) website.

Updated March 2021


Leave a comment

Your email will not be public