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Frequently Asked Questions

How will Safety Data Sheets Change?

The term Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) has been renamed as Safety Data Sheet (SDS). The new SDS follows a standardized 16-section format, whereas the old MSDS could display a variety of formats. The SDS will continue to provide hazard and precautionary information about a chemical substance or mixture. The primary purpose of the SDS is to provide employers/employees with information to support the evaluation of workplace hazards and appropriate safety precautions. Under GHS, the SDS will specify the hazard class and category for the substance or mixture. For each hazard class and category, the SDS will identify prescribed/mandated hazard statements, pictograms and precautionary statements.

What information must be presented on a SDS?

The following headings must be presented:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard identification
  3. Composition/information on ingredients
  4. First aid measures
  5. Firefighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure controls/personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal consideration
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other Information


How will Product Hazard Labels change?

The information on the labels will become standardized to increase employee comprehension of the potential hazards and precautions related to the chemical product in each package or container. The standardized label elements include:

  1. HAZARD SYMBOLS called PICTOGRAMS (shown below) represent health, physical and environmental (non-mandatory) hazard information. There are nine pictograms that are assigned to 28 different GHS hazard classes and categories. The pictograms outlined in yellow are those most commonly used for metalworking fluids.
  2. HAZARD STATEMENTS are standard phrases assigned to each hazard class and category that describe the nature of the hazard.
  3. SIGNAL WORDS “Danger” or “Warning” are used to emphasize the relative level of severity of the hazard assigned to each GHS hazard class and category.
  4. PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS describe the measures that are recommended to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure, including prevention, response, storage and disposal.
  5. IDENTIFIERS, such as the product name and the name, phone number and address of the manufacturer, distributor or importer (responsible party), are also included on the container label.

Example of our Product Layout


The new GHS Pictograms


Will workplace labeling change under OSHA HCS 2012?

Products falling within the scope of GHS will have GHS labels at the point where they enter the workplace. The GHS label or label elements can also be used for workplace containers. However, employers can also choose to communicate information using alternative methods where chemicals are transferred from supplier containers to containers for laboratory testing, storage vessels, piping or process reaction systems, or temporary containers where the chemicals will be used within a short timeframe.

Alternative labeling systems can include the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 704 Hazard Rating and the Hazardous Material Identification System (HMIS). However, under HCS 2012, the information supplied on the alternative labels must be consistent with the information provided on the GHS label (e.g., no conflicting hazard warnings or pictograms).

Concerns have been expressed that the use of the HMIS/NFPA rating systems after GHS could lead to confusion and potential mishandling of products in the workplace. Houghton does not currently provide HMIS /NFPA ratings on its product labels, but the information can be provided upon request.

As a customer, what changes can I expect from Houghton?

Houghton is committed to helping our customers and distributors understand GHS. We have followed the GHS rulemaking since it began, and our product safety and regulatory affairs experts have been involved with organizations to help shape GHS implementation.

We will support our customers and distributors by:

  • properly classifying our products
  • making sure our product SDS, labels and marketing materials meet GHS requirements
  • training our sales and technical service representatives to share information and answer your questions regarding GHS
  • providing access to our SDS via a customer web portal.
Will GHS have any impact on the chemical composition of Houghton products?

Houghton is not changing product formulations as a result of GHS. Under GHS, the classification system has changed, resulting in different, often more conservative safety factors. Suppliers of raw materials are also providing updated and detailed information as a part of their preparation for GHS. It is possible that the classification of some products may change. Houghton has no plans at this time to discontinue the use of any of its raw materials or products as a result of GHS.

What is Houghton’s position on technology changes?

As a part of our product stewardship commitment, we continue to make EHS a priority in our planning for new and existing products and actively counsel customers on the safe use, handling, transport and disposal of our products. Houghton employs a wide range of chemicals and additives in the manufacture of our metalworking fluid formulations. This allows us to offer a broad product line with many options to meet customer specific as well as region/country specific EHS and/or regulatory requirements. We have many product options that are non-hazardous and/or that do not contain raw materials that may have mixed acceptance in certain regions or countries.

We are constantly evaluating new raw material options as they become available. Houghton may modify or discontinue the use of raw materials and/or products when versions with better performance, quality, cost, consistency and EHS profile become available. This is central to our mission to deliver innovative and sustainable fluid solutions that create value for our customers by increasing their profitability and product quality while minimizing risks.