Many times when classifying a hazardous material for transportation a shipper may rely upon Section 14 of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), (formerly the Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS), for classification information. After all, it’s entitled “Transport Information” and frequently contains classification information pertaining to all transportation regulatory agencies:
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA).
- The International Maritime Organization (IMO).
But is it correct? Can you rely on the information it contains for your HazMat classification? The answer: maybe.
As of June 1, 2015, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has required the new SDS to be in a uniform format to align with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), Revision 3. The chemical manufacturer or importer preparing the SDS must ensure that it includes at least the following section numbers and headings, and associated information under each heading, in the order listed at 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2). You may refer to Appendix D to §1910.1200 – Safety Data Sheets, for the specific content required for each section of the SDS.
- Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
- Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
- Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
- Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
- Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
- Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
- Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
- Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the SDS where available as well as appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical’s characteristics.
- Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
- Section 11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
Section 12, Ecological information*
Section 13, Disposal considerations*
Section 14, Transport information*
Section 15, Regulatory information*
- Section 16, Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.
*Note: Since other Agencies regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15 (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)).
The use of the smaller type for sections 12-15 and the “*Note” is from an OSHA QuickCard for Hazard Communication Safety Data Sheets.
Also, at 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2), the following two notes are included:
Note 1 to paragraph (g)(2): To be consistent with the GHS, an SDS must also include the headings in paragraphs (g)(2)(xii) through (g)(2)(xv) in order.
Note 2 to paragraph (g)(2): OSHA will not be enforcing information requirements in sections 12 through 15, as these areas are not under its jurisdiction.
Note 1 of the above is referring to sections 12-15 of the SDS which are referenced at 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)(xii – xv).
So, OSHA included sections 12-15 as required in the new SDS solely to be consistent with the format adapted by the international community. It is not enforcing the information contained – or not contained – in these sections. But who is? PHMSA/USDOT? The answer: no. Though not explicitly stated in the Hazardous Material Regulations, PHMSA/USDOT has made it clear that it does not enforce the information contained in section 14 of the SDS.
- A person who completes section 14 of the SDS is not a HazMat Employee unless they are under contract to determine the hazard class of the substance or mixture (PHMSA Letter of Interpretation 15-0215).
- “…under the HMR, MSDS are not required to be included with a shipment of hazardous materials. The requirements for MSDSs are promulgated by OSHA at 29 CFR 1910.1200.” (PHMSA Letter of Interpretation 13-0057)
- “An MSDS is not required by the HMR and is an OSHA requirement.” (PHMSA Letter of Interpretation 10-0127)
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While a direct statement from PHMSA on the subject is yet lacking, it is clear from the above letters that the Safety Data Sheet, and its precursor the Material Safety Data Sheet, is not a requirement of the Hazardous Materials Regulations nor is its content authorized or enforced by PHMSA. What does this mean to you as the shipper or transporter of a hazardous material? What it means is that while you can use the information in section 14 of the SDS as guidance, it should not be the final word on how you classify a hazardous material. The complete classification of a hazardous material requires more information than just that found in section 14 of the SDS. Information that can assist in a HazMat classification can be derived from shipper knowledge, technical data, analysis of a sample, or sections 1-11 and 16 of the Safety Data Sheet.
And why not rely on the information in section 14 of the SDS? What could go wrong? A lot! In my experience I have seen incomplete and just plain incorrect information in section 14. Information that could lead a shipper to offer a hazardous material for transportation in a manner that is a violation of the Hazardous Material Regulations. Want examples?
- A substance identified as a marine pollutant when it was not classified as such by PHMSA/USDOT.
- Mis-identified UN2924, Solid containing flammable liquid, n.o.s. as UN1219, Isopropanol. Read here for more about that: Classification of Alcohol Wipes.
- Incorrect sequence to shipping description.
- Missing information to identify as a Reportable Quantity (RQ) of a hazardous substance.
- Incorrect assignment of packing group.
As the shipper of an article or substance you are responsible for its classification. Make certain you have properly trained HazMat Employees who utilize reliable sources of information to complete your HazMat classification.