Decoding SDS Series Part 2b: Hazard Identification Continued

Part 2a covers hazard classes, signal words, and hazard statements of an SDS. Now let’s take a look at the importance of pictograms and hazard statements:

Pictograms

SDSs provide specific hazards of chemicals, displayed through the use of pictograms. The most common symbols are displayed below, with corresponding descriptions.

 

Health Hazard: A carcinogen or chemical with respiratory, reproductive, or organ toxicity is present.
Flame: Flammable substances that may self-ignite when exposed to water or air, or emit flammable gas are present.
Exclamation Mark: Immediate skin, eye, or respiratory irritant is present. May also be a narcotic.
Gas cylinder: Gases stored under pressure (such as ammonia or liquid nitrogen) are present.
Corrosion: Materials causing skin corrosion, burns, or eye damage on contact are present. May also be corrosive to metals.
Exploding Bomb: Explosives, including organic peroxides and highly unstable material at risk of exploding even without exposure to air, are present (self-reactive).
Flame Over Circle: Oxidizers (chemicals that facilitate or catalyze burning) are present.
Skull and Crossbones: Poisons and highly concentrated acids, possessing severe acute toxicity, are present.
Environmental Hazard: The substance contains chemicals that are toxic to aquatic wildlife.*Important to note it is NOT mandatory to include this symbol on an SDS.

Precautionary statements

Precautionary statements are standard phrases that describe measures to prevent adverse effects of the chemical. Precautionary statements are designated codes, just like hazard statements are. Each code starts with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by three digits. There are five different classifications for precautionary statements:

 

General Precautionary Statement = 1
Prevention Precautionary Statement = 2
Response Precautionary Statement = 3
Storage Precautionary Statement = 4
Disposal Precautionary Statement = 5

 

Chemicals may have multiple precautionary statements. Note that the associated phrase for the code is displayed on the SDS and label, not the code itself. An example of the Precautionary Statements portion of Section 2 is shown below:

 

Precautionary Statements – General:
Keep out of reach of children.
Read label before use. 
 
It is essential that workers fully understand the hazards and risks present when handling toxic chemicals. Section 2 is definitely the most important and informative piece of an SDS for this reason. Proper education of hazards will prevent potential occupational injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
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