Chemical manufacturers are required to perform an assessment of the physical and health hazards of the chemicals they produce. This information must be made available in two places: the chemical label and the material safety data sheet (MSDS). Thus, the information found on the original container label and the MSDS may provide a great deal of information about the identity of the chemical constituents and their health and physical hazards.
The manufacturer's label should be kept intact. Do not intentionally deface or obscure the label or the hazard warnings until the container has been completely emptied. When a chemical is transferred from the original container into a secondary container for storage, the new container should be labeled with the name of the product, the chemical constituents and the primary hazard warnings.
All chemical manufacturers or distributors are required to conduct a hazard evaluation of their products and include the information on a material safety data sheet (MSDS). The manufacturer or distributor is required to provide an MSDS with the initial shipment of their products. Any MSDSs received by the laboratory must be maintained in a central location in the laboratory or the department. The Chemical Hygiene Plan outlines what to do with MSDSs received by a particular laboratory.
MSDSs are sometimes difficult to interpret. For more information about understanding and using an MSDS, see the Guide to Understanding MSDS Information.
If an MSDS is not on hand, check the EHS web page for connections to on-line sources of MSDSs. If the MSDS cannot be found, contact the manufacturer or distributor at the number listed on the container label and request an MSDS.
The MSDS section of the EHS web page has a number of pointers to on-line collections of MSDSs and other chemical information sources. The Laboratory Safety page has even more pointers to chemical and laboratory safety information.