A Beginner’s Guide To Translating Material Safety Data (MSD) Sheets


What MSDS stands for

MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet. Sometimes referred to as MSD, it is a complete guide for the use of hazardous chemicals. An MSDS contains safety information about the safe handling and storage of chemicals. Each MSDS also includes information about the potential health risks from exposure to chemicals, the flammability of the chemicals and the proper disposal and other safety precautions to take when handling them. MSDS documents also list the emergency steps that should be taken in case of an accident.

MSDS–A highly important document

On a job site or in a manufacturing environment, hazardous materials require extreme care when handling to avoid injury or loss of life. Product labels seldom have enough room to include all the safety tips that workers should know and receive training about. Thus the suppliers of the chemicals are required under law to prepare Material Safety Data Sheets to inform anyone who may come in contact with the chemicals of safe handling requirements.


What it includes

An MSDS usually starts with the product’s scientific and industrial name. It lists the name of the manufacturing company, along with the supplier. The composition and properties of the product also appear on the data sheet, as well as details of any precautionary measures that must be taken when handling, storing or using the product.


The MSDS lists all the potential threats to the health of those handling the chemicals. For instance, extreme care must be taken while handling concentrated acids. The MSDS must warn handlers to wear a protection suit, gloves and/or mask before touching the product or its container . It also includes first aid measures to follow if the substance is inhaled or comes into contact with skin or eyes. This information is intended to minimize the risk of severe harm.


Because toxic chemicals cannot be disposed of carelessly, an MSDS includes information on the potential hazards of such materials to the environment. Since these chemicals sometimes have toxins, the MSDS usually includes the legal requirements involved in disposing of them.

Why translate MSDS

Materials Safety Data Sheets must be translated whenever non-English speakers are present on work sites. In addition, all English speakers and non-English speakers must receive training on where to find and how to read them. Therefore, all businesses must ensure that MSDS are translated whenever employees are present who speak languages other than English. The employer is legally and professionally responsible to have data sheets translated. Doing so provides employees a safe and secure work environment. Data sheets are also required when chemicals are shipped to another country.

Translation of MSDS–A Task that requires specialized technical knowledge and precision

MSDSs are technical documents that include industry-specific terminology and chemical names. Accuracy is essential and sometimes these documents need to be certified and notarized as legal translations. Because cheap and poorly translated material safety data sheets can risk many lives, suppliers must hire the most proficient translators they can find who also have knowledge of the technical terms used in a MSDS.

Necessary updates

Material Safety Data Sheets must be regularly updated and retranslated to reflect changes. Thus a good translation company with technical translators is necessary. Such a company will guide you through the process of translating your MSDSs and updating them periodically. In addition, the translation company will know the differences in MSDS regulations from country to country. To meet this requirement, you must choose your translation company wisely.

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