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Toolbox Talk: Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Labeling

By March 30, 2020 March 7th, 2022 No Comments
Garco Construction, toolbox talk, building, gc cm, washington, idaho, oregon

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which is now referred to as a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), is provided by the manufacturer which contains information regarding all associated hazards with a particular chemical. Additionally, it provides guidelines on how to protect yourself against these hazards and provides emergency contact information/procedures in the event of emergency. You can obtain an SDS from the manufacturer, point of sale, or online.

For Garco, all SDSs shall be maintained on all job sites in any of the following formats:

  • Hard copy – in an SDS binder that is easily accessed to all employees on site at any time
  • Electronically – in a publicly accessed file (either job folder or folder on desktop) that anyone can access at any time
  • Online – internet search (Google, Bing,, etc.) this can be the quickest and most current resource. You must have reliable cellular or Wi-Fi connection for this method.

Regardless of the method used to maintain the SDSs on site,every site shall maintain their Hazardous Materials Inventory, especially as new materials are brought on and off to site by any employee (to include subcontractors). This aligns with the primary method that WISHA/OSHA utilizes to ensure that all site specific safety plans are truly site specific and effective in practice.

Training your crew on how to read and understand the information within an SDS is crucial.

Information found on an SDS includes, but is not limited to:

  • Manufacturer’s Information
  • Chemical Composition
  • First Aid Measures
  • Fire Fighting Measures
  • Accidental Release Measures
  • Handling and Storage Requirements
  • Exposure Control/Personal Protection
  • Physical and Chemical Properties
  • Stability and Reactivity
  • Toxicological, Ecological Information
  • Disposal and Transportation Information

Proper labels are required for every container within your job sites that houses a hazardous chemical. The importance of these labels is amplified when you’re using generic containers, such as spray bottles. Each label should contain information that identifies the chemical within the container along with all of its hazard information.

The following information is required on labels (be it handwritten or sticker) shall include:

  • Identity of the Hazardous Chemical
  • Appropriate Hazard Warnings
  • Chemical Manufacturers Information
  • First Aid Measures
  • Chemical Ingredients


Recommendations for effective HAZCOM on the job site:

  • Always know how to access SDS binders
  • Have online access credentials available to all employees working with hazardous substances
  • Familiarize yourself with chemical hazards in your workplace
  • An SDS must be available for every chemical used in the workplace
  • Every container used to store a chemical must be properly labeled
  • Always read the label and SDS before using the chemical
  • Avoid skin and eye contact by using the proper PPE
  • Store each chemical in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • DO NOT dispose of excess or waste in a drain or trash can
  • Cleaning agents should never be mixed with one another, unless directed by the manufacturer
  • When portioning chemicals into a separate container, proper labels must be used to identify the contents of the generic container. Information on the label must include the chemical name and a hazard warning that briefly describes the effects of the chemical.

Remember, we’re raising the bar on safety!

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