Material Changes to Safety Data Sheets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — has mandated that all Material Safety Data Sheets be converted to comply with Globally Harmonized System standards by June 1, 2015. Part of this includes dropping the word “Material” from the name.

In the past, many companies have expanded their MSDS by incorporating National Fire Protection Association and Hazardous Material Identification System codes.  These used numbers from 0 to 4 to indicate the hazards of products with “0” being nonhazardous and “4” being the most extreme hazard.

With the conversion to GHS-compliant Safety Data Sheets, there is a different numbering scheme that is essentially the reverse of the NFPA/HMIS scheme. The GHS numbering guideline goes from 1 to 5 with “1” being the most hazardous scenario and “5” being the least hazardous condition.

We anticipate that this reversal of the numbering system to identify hazardous products will be the source of a lot of confusion among people who have not been trained on how to interpret these new GHS-compliant SDS.

Birko seeks to inform our customers and others in the food processing industry about the meaning of these regulatory changes, as well as how to interpret the data on the SDS. Because this is a regulatory change, there isn’t much we can do to make the situation less confusing other than education.