What is an SDS, formerly known as MSDS, and how are they made available?
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provide detailed health and safety related information for specific chemicals and compounds. The SDS serves two main purposes 1) to meet federal and state chemical right to know laws enabling safe use and 2) to ensure information is readily available during an emergency (e.g., person has been exposed and needs treatment).
In order to comply with regulations governing employee "chemical right to know", all employees and users of hazardous chemicals MUST maintain in the workplace copies of the required SDS for each hazardous chemical and shall ensure they are readily accessible during each work shift to employees/users when they are in their work areas(s). Electronic access and other alternatives to maintaining paper copies of the SDS are permitted as long as no barriers to immediate employee/user access in each workplace are created by such options and there is a backup method to obtain access to SDSs when electronic access is not available.
The preferred, and most effective way to meet the chemical right to know requirements is to have paper copies of manufacturer-specific SDSs located where the hazardous chemicals are used (i.e., in the work area). In a University setting, it is recognized this may not be practicable in all cases. For those cases, the University Enterprise Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) information management (IM) system (BioRAFT) provides access to an SDS service provider that houses approximately 1 million manufacturer-specific SDSs. When it is not practicable, or feasible, to maintain paper copies in the workplace, employees/users must be provided a means in the work area to access the SDSs and the instructions for access must be clearly visible. At times when this access is not available, employees/users needing an SDS should contact the EHS office (during normal work hours call 479-575-5448) or after hours contact University Police (479-575-2222) and asked to be connected with an EHS representative.
Copies of the Arkansas regulations governing employee "chemical right to know" and SDSs may be obtained from EHS by calling (479) 575-5448 or stopping by our offices, located in the Facilities Management complex.
How do I get an SDS?
1. Locate the SDS Binder in the Signed Location of the Laboratory/Shop (note: not all laboratories may have paper copies in the work area, but at a minimum, paper copies of SDSs for Particularly Hazardous Substances should be available in the work area).
Your supervisor should have a manufacturer-specific SDS for any hazardous chemical you are required to work with or use. These should be kept in a binder that is available to employees at the work site/area for immediate access.
2. Access Manufacturer-specific SDSs through BioRAFT
The University EHS IM system (BioRAFT) maintains access to manufacturer-specific SDSs and they are available at the following site: https://uark.bioraft.com/
3. Contact EHS
EHS maintains an extensive library of SDSs. All students, faculty and staff are invited to search these volumes for any required SDS. Copies may be made free of charge. Please see the disclaimer below. EHS is located in Facilities Management at:
521 S. Razorback Road
Fayetteville, AR 72701
After normal work hours, SDS access can be obtained by contacting University police (479-575-2222) and requesting to be put in contact with an EHS representative.
4. Develop your own SDS
Write your own SDS for unique research-produced compounds or mixtures. The user of a chemical or compound DOES NOT have to rely upon information contained in an SDS obtained from any of the above sources. Users can develop their own SDS from scratch. In fact, any generator of "noncommercial" hazardous chemicals or compounds (but NOT hazardous waste) generated as a product of campus research or process, should develop a unique SDS for those products. Guidelines for writing SDSs can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)). Please call EHS for further information on locally developing SDS.
5. Other ways to obtain an SDS
Ask the manufacturer. It is the responsibility of the chemical manufacturers to ensure that distributors and purchasers are provided with the appropriate SDS with their initial shipment and with the first shipment after an SDS is updated. When a specific request is made, many manufacturers will willingly send a SDS directly to the chemical user, regardless of how many shipments have been made. If you are ordering material directly from the manufacturer, the best time to request the SDS is when the material is ordered.
If all the above methods fail and immediate access is needed, perform an internet search. Search on "manufacturer + chemical name + SDS" or "chemical name + SDS" or "CAS number + SDS" will turn up the correct result 99% of the time. If the search proves unsuccessful, a number of internet options remain. Searching on "SDS" will reveal that there are numerous SDS providers on the internet. Some providers charge for their service while others provide it free of charge.
Disclaimer: Environmental Health and Safety cannot confirm the accuracy or applicability of any SDS within the EHS library, or SDSs obtained from any other source. SDS are manufacturer specific. A SDS developed by one manufacturer may or may not be an appropriate substitute for the same chemical produced by a different manufacturer. Due to the huge number of different chemicals used at the university, it is possible that some of the SDSs in the library may not be the current revision.