Msds Requirements For Concrete Products

While Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) requirements vary somewhat between countries, particular confusion exists regarding the application of MSDS to


While Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) requirements vary somewhat between countries, particular confusion exists regarding the application of MSDS to concrete products fabricated in the United States. Accordingly, a clarification follows of MSDS requirements for domestic producers who ship or receive items across adjacent borders, including a comparison of regulations among countries.

In the U.S., the requirement to produce an MSDS for a manufactured product originates in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200. However, an apparent exclusion for concrete products from the MSDS requirement is indicated in 1910.1200(b)(6) under a reference to ÎarticlesÌ. An ÎarticleÌ is defined in 1910.1200(b)(6)(v), as follows:

ÎArticleÌ means a manufactured item other than a fluid or particle: (i) which is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture; (ii) which has end use function(s) dependent in whole or in part upon its shape or design during end use; and, (iii) which under normal conditions of use does not release more than very small quantities, e.g., minute or trace amounts of a hazardous chemical [as determined under paragraph (d) of this section], and does not pose a physical hazard or health risk to employees.

Some producers view this clause as a regulatory exemption from the need to prepare an MSDS for finished concrete units. Thus assuming an exemption can be problematical for customers who need an MSDS for their internal requirements and to show their employees the hazardous or nonhazardous qualities of products they are handling.

Further, the exemption interpretation entails a problem related to the necessity of MSDS for hazardous chemicals, as dry sawing or grinding generates both cement and silica dust in quantities frequently exceeding OSHA permissible exposure limits (PEL) for both. OSHA defines a Îhazardous chemicalÌ as:

÷any chemical which is a physical hazard or a health hazard. A Îhealth hazardÌ means a chemical for which there is÷evidence÷that acute or chronic health effects may occur in exposed employees. The term Îhealth hazardÌ includes÷toxic agents, irritants÷agents which may damage the lungs, skin, eyes or mucous membranes÷

Sawing or grinding of concrete products typically generates a recognized ÎhazardÌ, thereby requiring an MSDS to provide warning to anyone associated with these activities. If concrete components are never dry sawed or exposed to grinding, a producer’s exemption may be valid. Not producing the MSDS, however, fails to notify the customer of potential hazards. Therefore, it is recommended that producers provide an MSDS for finished concrete units to inform customers of their nonhazardous features, as well as potential hazards associated with product handling.

The system to follow for MSDS generation in the U.S. is no longer prescribed by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200, since OSHA dropped its MSDS format requirement in lieu of ANSI A400.1-2004, American National Standard for Hazardous Industrial Chemicals – Material Safety Data Sheets – Preparation. The ANSI format is more consistent with that required by the world community. Additional preparatory references include ANSI Z129.1-2006, Hazardous Industrial Chemicals – Precautionary Labeling and the latest edition of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents and Biological Exposure Indices.

Mexico and Canada have somewhat different MSDS requirements. In Canada, the requirement for an MSDS is provided in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), which can be viewed through the official Health Canada web site, Additional information is available through the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

While MSDS requirements promulgated by WHMIS and OSHA closely parallel one another, a major difference between the two concerns criteria for updating an MSDS. Under WHMIS, the MSDS must be renewed every three years or with the occurrence of a formulation change. By contrast, OSHA requires an update only in the case of a change in formulation or health information. Consequently, producers in Canada or those who ship to Canada must possess an MSDS dated within three years Û in French as well as English.

Another difference between the two lies in the style of presenting hazardous ingredients and hazard identity information. WHMIS rules of exposure tend to be more specific than those cited by OSHA, e.g., WHMIS requires the percentage of hazardous ingredient concentrations to be disclosed on the MSDS (unless exempted at the time of product registration with the Hazardous Materials Independent Review Commission [HMIRC], an independent government administrative agency under Health Canada). Additionally, a difference exists in exposure limits and/or toxicological information: OSHA requires PEL and TLV [threshold limit value] data to be included on the MSDS, while WHMIS requires the TLV as well as the LD50 value [lethal dose, 50 percent, i.e., the amount of a material, given all at once, which causes the death of one half of a group of test animals].

In Mexico, requirements for a safety data sheet or MSDS Û known as HDS, Hojas de Datos de Seguridad Û for dangerous chemicals are found in Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-018-STPS-2000, System for the Identification and Communication of Hazards and Risks for Hazardous Chemical Substances in the Workplace. The definition of a dangerous chemical is broad, as follows:

They are such that their properties either physical or chemical when managed, transported, stored or processed present the possibility of health, inflammability, reactivity or special risks and can affect the health of people exposed to them or result in property losses.

The standard applies to all workplaces in Mexico where dangerous chemicals are handled, transported or stored, yet finished products ready for sale and vehicular transportation outside workplaces are excluded. The producer is thus exempted from requirements to provide an MSDS for a finished concrete component sold in Mexico, although providing the MSDS would assure disclosure of potential hazards.

For European producers, MSDS requirements include the directives 67/548/EEC – Dangerous Substances and 99/45/EC – Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. As defined under the 76/464/EEC – EC Dangerous Substances directive, a dangerous substance is a bio-accumulative, persistent, or toxic material. These standards require producers of dangerous chemicals in European Community member states to provide industrial and professional users with detailed health, safety and environmental information, as well as advice about their products in the form of safety data sheets. Directive 91/155/EEC, as amended by Directives 93/112/EEC and 2001/58/EC, sets out requirements for the information to be included in a safety data sheet.

The British law governing MSDSs is titled Chemicals Hazard and Information and Packaging for Supply Regulations, or CHIP. Comprising a significant difference between OSHA and CHIP regulations, if an MSDS is changed, the latter requires the supplier to notify anyone who received the chemical in the previous 12 months. Likewise, European regulations stipulate that specific phrases pertaining to risk and safety appear on labels and safety data sheets, whereas OSHA simply requires that all hazards and precautions be clearly communicated without specifying a code scheme. Additional information can be found in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations.

Ultimately, whether a producer elects to prepare an MSDS for its concrete offerings depends on considerations of regulatory requirements as well as a perceived level of care to identify any hazards that may be present in the product. While concrete is recognized worldwide for its durability and inert qualities, respiratory health hazards associated with prolonged breathing of concrete dust are also well known. The disclosure of such potential hazards via the formal MSDS system is a responsible act.