Respect Safety Data Sheets
Ken Bannister | November 13, 2017
These mandatory documents play a vital role in workplace-safety and lubrication-management programs.
If you work with or around lubricants, it would be understandable, from time to time, to have wondered about the safety of their ingredients. Specifically, have you worried about such products presenting a danger to personnel or the environment?
Given those types of concerns, would you know where to find crucial information about lubricants and related products if you or others were to accidentally ingest or come into skin contact with them, or an uncontained spill into water or soil occurred? You would be correct if you answered, “the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS)”—formerly known as the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
The SDS is a mandatory, 16-section, fact-sheet-style document for each potentially harmful product that meets the international requirements of the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of chemical classification and labeling. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, osha.gov, Washington) is the U.S. regulatory agency that legislates under the Hazard Communication Regulation to ensure all employees in a workplace coming into contact with potentially harmful substances—such as lubricants and related products—have ready access to current SDS documents, typically compiled in a manual, in print (Fig. 1) and online.
Understanding SDS elements
An SDS reflects 11 individually described, mandatory elements (Sections 1 to 11), and five non-mandatory—but GHS-required—elements (Sections 12 to 16). The information is similar to that found in an MSDS, but is now presented in a more consistent format. Here, based on OSHA requirements, and using a standard air-tool oil lubricant as an example, is an overview of the 16 sections.
Section 1: Identification. This section identifies the lubricant by the common name found on its labeling and any other synonyms used to identify the product worldwide, as well as the detailed contact information for the manufacturer or importer, and an emergency phone number. This section also describes the recommended use of the product, i.e., lubricant, and any restrictions on its use.
Section 2: Hazard Identification. This section identifies any hazards associated with the lubricant’s use and details the appropriate warning information for the product. Details of the standard air-tool oil lubricant in our example would include:
• Classification Category: Category 1- Aspiration hazard
• Signal Word: Danger
• Hazard Statement: “May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways”
• Pictogram: Icon or infographic that represents the aspiration hazard visually (Fig. 2)
• Precautionary Statements: If swallowed—“Immediately call a poison center or doctor. Do NOT induce vomiting. Store locked up.”
• Other Hazard Statement: “6% of the mixture consists of ingredient(s) of unknown acute toxicity.” (or similar statement referring to the percentage of unknown toxicity that is present in the product’s ingredients).
Section 3: Composition/Information on Ingredients. This section describes the ingredient substances and mixtures contained in the product that must also include any impurities and stabilizing additives. If the concentration of ingredients is a trade secret, a statement must be made here. Details of our example air-tool oil lubricant would include:
• Chemical Name: Mineral oil, petroleum
• CAS Number: Unique identifier, i.e., the product’s Chemical Abstracts Number (CAS# 8042-92-3)
• Statement: “The exact percentage (concentration) of composition has been withheld as a trade secret in accordance with paragraph (i) of 1910.1200.”
Section 4: First Aid Measures. This section covers the initial care and recommendations that can be provided by untrained responders to an individual exposed to the lubricant. Details of our example air-tool oil lubricant would include:
• First Aid Measures by Exposure Type: Inhalation—“If breathing is difficult, remove victim to fresh air and keep at rest in a position comfortable for breathing.” And, ”Seek medical advice/attention if you [the victim] feel unwell.”
• Most Important Symptoms and Effects: Inhalation—“May cause respiratory tract irritation.”
• Recommendations for Immediate Medical Care and Special Treatment: Note to Physician—“Treat symptomatically. Symptoms may not appear immediately. In case of accident or if you [the victim] feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately.” (Show the label or SDS where possible.)
Section 5: Fire-fighting Measures. This section covers recommendations for fighting a fire caused by a lubricant. Details of our example air-tool oil lubricant would include:
• Extinguishing Media: Suitable—“Treat for surrounding materials.” Unsuitable—“None known”
• Specific Hazards: Products of combustion include, but are not limited to, oxides of carbon.
• Protective Equipment and Precautions for Firefighters: “Wear full firefighting turnout gear (full Bunker gear) and respiratory protection (SCBA). Keep upwind of fire.”
Section 6: Accidental Release Measures. This section provides appropriate response recommendations for spills, leaks, or releases of the product, including information on containment and cleanup practices. Details of the example air-tool oil lubricant would include:
• Personal Precautions: “Use personal protective equipment recommended in Section 8. Isolate the hazard area and deny entry to unnecessary and unprotected personnel.”
• Environmental Precautions: See Section 12 for ecological information.
• Methods and Material for Containment and Cleaning Up: “Contain and/or absorb spill with inert material (sand, vermiculite), then place in a suitable container. Do not flush to sewer or allow entering waterways. Use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”
Section 7: Handling and Storage. This section provides guidance and precautions for safe handling and conditions for safe storage. Details of our example air-tool oil lubricant would include:
• Handling: “Avoid contact with skin and eyes. Avoid breathing vapor or mist. Do not swallow. Handle in accordance with good industrial hygiene and safety practice. Wash hands after use. Do not eat, drink, or smoke when using this product.”
• General Hygiene Advice: “Launder contaminated clothing before reuse.”
• Storage Conditions: “Keep container closed when not in use. Store in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated area. Keep out of reach of children.”
• Incompatible Materials: “None known.”
Section 8: Exposure controls/Personal Protection. This section specifies the exposure limits, controls, and protective measures required to minimize exposure. Details of our example air-tool oil lubricant would include:
• Control Parameters: “No data available.”
• Appropriate Engineering Controls: “Apply technical measures to comply with occupational exposure limits. Use ventilation that is adequate to keep exposure (including airborne levels of dust, fume, and vapor, among others) below recommended limits.”
• Individual Protection Measures:
• Respiratory Protection—“Not required under normal use conditions. Ensure adequate ventilation, especially in confined areas.”
• Skin and Body Protection: “Wear suitable protective clothing. Wear proper, compatible, chemical resistant protective gloves.”
• Eye/Face Protection: “Safety glasses or goggles are recommended when using product.”
• General Work/Hygienic Practices: “Handle in accordance with good industrial hygiene and safety practice. Do not eat, smoke, or drink where material is handled, processed, or stored.”
In clear language
Safety Data Sheets are critical components of any workplace-safety and lubrication-management program. They spell out—in clear language—how lubricants should be stored and handled in the working environment, as well as how they react with other lubricants, and instruct on the dangers and remedial action required in the event of a spill or contact.
Sections 1 through 8 of a lubricant’s SDS are the most helpful for personnel who need to quickly find lubricant information. The remaining sections contain scientific and technical details on physical and chemical properties (Section 9); stability and reactivity (Section 10); toxicology (Section 11); ecology (Section 12); disposal (Section 13); transport (Section 14); and regulatory issues (Section 15).
Keep in mind that all maintainers and lubrication technicians are required to be trained on how to read and use an SDS—and to have easy access to print copies of an SDS manual (Fig. 1) located in conspicuous places at a site, i.e., in or near first-aid or eyewash-stations, lubricant storerooms, and/or maintenance shops, as well as in an online manual. It is also important to note that workers themselves are responsible for knowing and understanding the properties and associated risks surrounding the lubricants with which they work, and to make use of appropriate safeguards. EP
Contributing editor Ken Bannister is co-author, with Heinz Bloch, of the book Practical Lubrication for Industrial Facilities, 3rd Edition (The Fairmont Press, Lilburn, GA). As managing partner and principal consultant for Engtech Industries Inc. (Innerkip, Ontario), he specializes in the implementation of lubrication-effectiveness reviews to ISO 55001 standards, asset-management systems, and training. Contact him at email@example.com, or telephone 519-469-9173.