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Material Safety Data Sheets - valid or invalid?

DrillSafe Articles

Safety information and collaboration forum for the exploration drilling industry in Southern Africa.

Material Safety Data Sheets - valid or invalid?

Drill Safe

By Colin Rice

Colin Rice Exploration and Training (Pty) Ltd


The Material Safety Data Sheet is a legal document that conveys essential information to both contractors and mining companies. It is a good idea therefore that contractors and mining companies carefully scrutinise the MSDS's that are presented to them.


This is the second article of Part 1 of our Technical Series on Drilling Fluids. Click here for an outline of the entire Technical Series on Drilling Fluids.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a critical piece of paper both for the mining company and the contractor. It is a legal document in exactly the same way as a wire rope test certificate or a pressure vessel test certificate is. It essentially provides the mining company with a warranty that every claim made by the supplier is indeed valid.

Unfortunately, we frequently find cases where a supplier imports a cheap batch of chemicals from a manufacturer and then merely copies the MSDS of another manufacturer who manufactures a similar product. Contractors and mining companies must therefore make an effort to ensure that the MSDS is in fact valid and not merely a copy of another MSDS.

Similarly, contractors and mining companies must make an effort to check the accuracy of the document. This is very easy to do - it is reasonable to expect the supplier to be able to explain what the various bits of information mean. In other words, if the supplier claims an LD50 value then, if requested, he must be able to produce the laboratory certificates to support the claim and so on and he must be able to explain what the term LD50 means. 

In short, Material Safety Data Sheets must be accurate, valid and up to date and so should be scrutinised in exactly the same way that any other documentation is scrutinised. MSDS’s are complex documents containing a lot of information and so if you are not sure what to look for then get some assistance - you may be glad that you did! 

Other articles in Part 1 of the Drilling Fluids Series