THANK GOD they figured out how to make MSDS's less useful

Material Safety Data Sheets weren’t great. They droned on and on about nothing for most of their length and were overly alarmist about hazards like water (“avoid prolonged skin contact”) and Borden Skin Cream (likewise) so you never really knew if something was dangerous or not. But that’s OK. In recent years anybody working with hazardous materials knew enough to use their network of friends or anonymous internet sources to get the best available information.

So why did they have to do this?

The “Global Harmonized System (GHM)” has taken over. Accordingly, they are replacing the name “MSDS”, which everybody knows, and calling it an “SDS-16”. This underscores the fact that it is still about materials. No, wait, it makes it sound like it isn’t…

Now I will keep forgetting what document isn’t worth looking up.

Don’t you know that in science and medicine nomenclature must change, periodicly, to keep the general public from understanding what we do?
Of course, it may keep us from understanding it too. The folks who make those decisions don’t actually work in the field. They are usually educated beyond their ability to do so. A corollary to the Peter Principle, I suspect.

At least you know where not to look it up: The Round File.

As far as I can tell, here in Canada the changes will be minimal.

The document will have a slightly different format, and our WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) symbols will be altered slightly, from a picture inside a circle to a picture inside a diamond.

It makes sense to have a system that allows a worker from Europe to understand what he is looking at when he sees labels and documents from Canada, and vice versa.

The thing that will really flash your solvent is when this is all revamped again in 15 years when China joins the rest of the world in giving a rat’s ass about the safety of its workers.

LINK for those curious.

Tellingly, Section 1.2 Why was the GHS developed? begins:

That pretty clearly lays out the priorities of this change to safety regulations.

A diamond? Huh. That’s what they must have meant by a “square set to point”.

And these people are telling us how to communicate clearly?

Ugh, I just went through that online training.

Why change my perfectly good collection of msds sheets?

The MSDS isn’t going anywhere.

They’ve just added a separate global standards database now.

These are the new SDS sheets:

It means I have to memorize yet more acronyms. Blech.
My brain is turning into a mess of alphabet soup.
And I don’t feel one whit safer.

No, the SDS-16 is fine – really, it’s just as good.

You wanna know what sucks? The GHS labels.

Here’s a typical label from the system promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association:
Explained here:
Once you know the system (and there’s not much to know), you can identify the hazards at a glance.

Here’s a GHS label:
Explained here:
Good luck with that! No idea of the relative hazard, a two-point ranking system, and an exclamation point! that can mean anything from “skin irritant” to “narcotic effects” to “hazardous to ozone.”

Great. Because workers can’t know too much.

I know a diamond isn’t a square, but frankly I’ve never heard of a “square set to point” and I’d more readily recognise what someone meant if they said “diamond”.

I’m not sure If I like the dead fish one, or the alien squid bursting out of the chest one better.

Actually, it’s usually legally required to have MSDSs on site. So you need to have a specific file of paper copies to not look at.

There’s also the popsicle/corndog/cricket bat, or is it a tampon?

Heh. Try reading a test method from ISO (the International Standards Organization). The first 5 pages or so are nothing but pointless legalese. You could throw them away and never miss them.

Never mind that, why does the skull in the skull-and-crossbones have ears?

I’ve been teaching weekly courses on this stuff to our field staff since the beginning of the year, and have to supress an urge to roll my eyes at some of the provisions of the new legislation.

Although I 'm not sure it’s actually written down anywhere, I believe the MSDS-SDS name change is simply to indicate whether a given page of safety information is in the old, every-man-for-himself, uncontrolled format of an MSDS, or the new, more structured SDS format.

Yes, the NFPA diamond strikes me as a hell of a lot easier to interpret than the GHS pictograms.

It’s a gas cylinder. Which, as a label, will attach to a gas cylinder. So, if one doesn’t already know what the specific hazard of a gas cylinder is, one is unlikely to be clued in by the pictogram.

As long as we’re bagging on the pictograms, the exclamation point is not exactly the most intuitive expression of a hazard I’ve seen, either.

Do carry on.

Definitely a cricket bat…tampon ‘stems’ are longer.

My company keeps all MSDSs in two BIG yellow binders that are kept in a wire rack in the warehouse. I’ve probably told this story before on the board…during my first year working there, I did a lot of work with fuses. Most of them were Buss fuses. Buss literature used to be published in BIG yellow binders with “BUSS” printed on the spines. One day, I had one of these Buss binders open so I could make copies of a data sheet. One of the guys from the warehouse saw it, mistook it for an MSDS book (despite the colorful Buss fuse literature within), and started giving me hell about it. :rolleyes:

Patient is at risk for knowledge deficit r/t alteration in nomenclature a/e/b copious use of bovine excrement in linguistic exchange?

It was a weird industrial accident indeed…