MSDS Stickers
" MSDS labels provide a quick reference that can make all the difference in avoiding and addressing emergencies. Rather than scanning through the MSDS, a quick glance at a sticker conveys the most crucial information immediately: the potential hazards to human health. "

MSDS stickers: Adhering to safety

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) provide crucial information about hazardous materials and indicate the precautions that should be taken when handling them. These documents are vital and required by law, but they're often dangerously inaccessible, kept in offices or tucked inside packaging during transportation. Because of this, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that containers with hazardous materials are labeled, whether they are being transported, stored or used in a workplace.

MSDS labels provide a quick reference that can make all the difference in avoiding and addressing emergencies. Rather than scanning through the MSDS, a quick glance at a sticker conveys the most crucial information immediately. In particular, it safeguards against the chemical's potential hazards to human health.

Some MSDS labels feature the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) safety ratings, or American National Standards Institute (ANSI) labels, which have characteristic black print on a bright-yellow background, and the exact, official warnings and pertinent information from an MSDS, including:

  • Product identification

  • Contact information for the supplier, manufacturer, importer or distributor

  • Signal word and pictogram

  • Hazard statement for each hazard class and category

  • Precautionary statements

  • Emergency overview

  • First-aid, fire and spill procedures

An ANSI label for uranium, for example, would include attention-grabbing pictograms and exclamation-marked signal words that identify a substance as radioactive, explosive or flammable. Below that, in a smaller font, the label would spell out the specific information such as:

  • The type of protective clothing and precaution required: "Avoid exposure to skin and wear goggles, gloves, full suit and boots."

  • The immediate and chronic health effects: "Irritation to respiratory tract, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, pneumoconiosis, pulmonary fibrosis, lymphoma, osteosarcoma and lung cancer."

  • What to do in the case of exposure: "Remove to fresh air and support breathing, flush eyes with plenty of water, immediately wash the affected skin with soap and water and decontaminate body surfaces using radiation standards."

  • How to fight a uranium fire: "Use an alcohol foam, dry chemical or carbon dioxide."

  • How to respond to spills: "Notify safety personnel, isolate and ventilate area, deny entry, stay upwind, shut off ignition sources and follow special radiation procedures, including protecting clean-up crew against exposure."

An MSDS summary label simplifies the information even further, letting workers know how reactive, toxic and flammable different cargoes are, and whether those cargoes require special care.

The primary advantage of an MSDS sticker is the visibility of this information. An emergency is not the time to be shuffling through paper work to find an MSDS. Unlike these documents, stickers can be affixed directly to a container and alert people to how hazardous materials must be handled "from transportation workers to those receiving the materials. Some substances, for example, could be dangerous if kept in a space with high temperatures, or if they are jostled during delivery, use or storage.

Rather than absolving the employer's responsibility to keep a complete MSDS readily accessible to all employees on all shifts, an MSDS sticker serves to increase a company's adherence to safety, and provides valuable direction that a pictogram alone cannot communicate.

More detailed information on labeling requirements can be found here.

MSDS Safety LabelsANSI labels typically have the most detail, displaying an emergency overview, manufacturer contact, and precautionary statements. They characteristically appear with black print on a bright yellow background.
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