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OSHA MSDS: What Are All These Acronyms?

Do you know what OSHA MSDS means? You should if you’re an employer who wants to have a safe work environment that follows federal guidelines.

MSDS—short for Material Safety Data Sheets—are important for any workplace that has any hazardous chemicals. If you have chemicals on the job, then it’s important that you know more than just what the acronym MSDS is short for.

Read on to learn more about OSHA MSDS and why they are so important to have.


What Is OSHA?

Before we get too far, let’s make sure you understand the acronym OSHA. OSHA is short for Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA was created in 1970 through the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This law was created in response to thousands of injuries, illnesses, and deaths that workers experienced on the job annually.

As part of the Department of Labor, OSHA’s mission is to provide standards, training, and resources to help employers and employees create safe, healthy work environments.


As part of its mission, OSHA required manufacturers and distributors of hazardous chemicals or substances to provide an MSDS on each of their products. OSHA MSDS stands for OSHA Material Safety Data Sheets, and they exist to provide employees with information on any chemical they’re working with.

OSHA requires this from chemical manufacturers and distributors because all of their products are found in some kind of work environment—whether that’s a warehouse with laborers or a home with maids.

It’s important to note some of the history surrounding MSDS. When OSHA first required the creation of MSDS, there was no standard format for these documents. 

This led to confusion, and in 2012 OSHA revised its rules on MSDS. Referred to as just SDS – or Safety Data Sheets – these documents now follow a standard 16 section format.

On a side note, you may be wondering what is the difference between MSDS and SDS. Outside of the formatting standard, they are extremely similar and are sometimes used interchangeably.

Why Do You Need MSDS?

You and your employees need MSDS for the chemicals you work with for two important reasons. First, employers are expected by OSHA to make MSDS available to all employees.

Second, and maybe more importantly, MSDS are needed because they provide valuable safety information to employees.

This includes information on what the chemical is, what kinds of hazards exist, how to safely handle the chemical, and how to provide proper first-aid if an accident does happen. This knowledge is valuable in protecting employees and preventing potential injuries, illnesses, or worse.

How Can You Find MSDS?

If you want to run a safe and responsible work environment, then you need to have MSDS on hand. If you don’t already have these documents, they aren’t hard to find.

MSDS sheets are available in online databases. Some websites like can even provide you with an online binder to make it easy to organize all these safety documents you need.

What Is the Difference Between MSDS and SDS? Now You Know

While it may have seemed confusing at first, OSHA MSDS should now be straight forward for you. These Material Safety Data Sheets are an important way of keeping your employees informed and safe when it comes to the chemicals they will be using.

Are you looking for more information? Check out our other articles for more.

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