You may not be aware of it, but everyday supplies such as cleaners, pesticides, herbicides, and lubricants can pose a safety risk when you are at camp, at your meeting place, or volunteering for a Scouting event. Proper storage and handling of chemical products will help you manage the risk and prevent unsafe exposure. You can find out what you need to know by reviewing safety data sheets on all hazardous materials.
So, what is a safety data sheet (SDS)? It’s a document you should keep on hand that provides basic information on a material or chemical product. Each sheet contains information on the properties and potential hazards of the material or product, how to use it safely, and what to do if there is an emergency. The sheets should be updated as new chemicals are introduced and others are disposed of. Here are a few questions to help you learn about an SDS:
- Why do I need an SDS? To understand how some chemical products can hurt you, other people, or the environment.
- Where can I find an SDS? An SDS can be found in a book, downloaded from the internet, or requested from the chemical supplier. You should keep a copy of the SDS at the camp, event, or meeting site for every hazardous chemical that is used or stored there.
- How do I read an SDS? An SDS is divided into 16 sections that apply to different safety practices. Some sections refer to storing chemicals and what that should look like. Others explain how to react in emergency situations should a leak, exposure, or spill happen. Some examples of sections are
— First-Aid Measures: Describes initial care to be given to an individual who has been exposed to a chemical
— Accidental Release Measures: How to handle spills or leaks, including containment and cleanup practices
— Exposure Controls/Personal Protection Equipment (PPE): What kind of protection you should use (gloves, aprons, safety glasses, etc.)
— Stability and Reactivity: Describes the hazards associated with mixing and storing certain products and chemicals
— Toxicological Information: Information on how chemicals can affect your body
- How do I use an SDS? Each SDS identifies a specific hazardous chemical being stored or used at your site, and it contains resources for reporting and cleanup after any exposure or spill.