FAQs about SDS

Paper People Chain on the GlobeProgram used: Illustrator CS5Date the file was created: 01.12.2014Layers of data used: OutlinesSource of map:https://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_maps/world_rel_803005AI_2003.jpg

As most cleaning and restoration professionals know, the old MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) has been replaced by the new SDS (Safety Data Sheet). In the process, numerous questions have come up as to why the old MSDS was replaced along with inquiries specifically about the new SDS forms.

To help us figure things out, Tobi Colbert, business development manager for National Service Alliance, a leading group purchasing organization for contract cleaners, lists some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers below:

Why the change?

The SDS is designed to make information on chemicals, product labels, and warning labels consistent around the world, whether the cleaning worker is in India or North America, for example.

Are SDS on every cleaning solution?

Any product classified as “potentially hazardous” and intended for use, handling or storage in a workplace setting will likely have an SDS.

What information is on the SDS?

There are 16 sections, but the following tend to be the most important:

  • Identifying the manufacturer,
  • Hazard classification,
  • Ingredient information,
  • First aid measures, if needed,
  • Fire extinguishing measures, if needed,
  • Personal precautions when using the product,
  • Handling and storage,
  • Physical properties about the product, such as the temperature at which it could catch fire.

Does the new SDS look different from the old MSDS?

Yes, and one of the key differences is there are lots of pictograms designed to convey messages in place of words.

When are they updated?

They are required to be updated whenever a manufacturer becomes aware of “significant new data” about its product, for instance, if the ingredients have changed.

How will I know if one is updated?

A revised date will be on the SDS.

Are cleaners required to provide SDS information?

Yes. It may be in hardcopy or readily accessible by a Web-enabled device.

As a cleaning worker, when would I use an them?

Before working with any new cleaning solution, be sure the SDS matches the name of the product, review the hazards, understand the safe-handling and storage procedures, and know what to do in an emergency.


♦ Previously appeared as an NSA News Advisory, which aims to provide general information on issues impacting the professional contract cleaning industry. The NSA is a buying group serving the professional contract cleaning industry and headed by NSA Executive Director Terry Sambrowski. Total membership is nearly 300.

Robert Kravitz is a frequent writer for the professional cleaning and carpet cleaning industries.

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