MSDS sheets

   MSDS sheets are available from the manufacturer or vendor and are often supplied with the product when purchased.  Having access to the MSDS sheet on the various products used in the prop shop helps the artisans understand what precautions are needed and what kind of work processes are appropriate to use. 

Many websites are available to provide MSDS sheets on a range of products as well as information on how to read and use MSDS sheets.


    All products should have appropriate labels listing chemical identity, appropriate use hazards, manufacturer name, and date of purchases.  The date is especially important for those products having a limited shelf life.  If pouring chemicals into a secondary container, label information should be transferred to the new container.  Hazardous chemicals should not be poured into a cup or other container used for drinking or eating to prevent accidental ingestion.


    Local, state and federal laws regulate disposal of hazardous materials.  Failure to comply with those regulations can be very costly to the theatre as well as environmentally negligent.  Properly labeled containers for hazardous waste disposal should be provided in the prop shop/s as necessary and final handling and waste removal completed in accordance with safe disposal regulations.  This is usually coordinated with the janitorial and maintenance staff. 


Hazardous chemicals are classified four ways:


Ø Ignitable – flammable or combustible materials.  (Gasoline, paint thinners, petroleum solvents, adhesives, alcohol)


Ø Toxics – poisonous to the body, may cause illness or death. (Paint, cleaning fluids, casting and molding products)


Ø Caustics – can burn, strongly irritate, or corrode, will destroy skin. (Acids, some cleaners)


Ø Reactive – will react violently when mixed with other products.  (Dry or liquid chlorine)


    In case of spills and before starting cleanup it is critical to know the properties of what was spilled and to secure the area around the spill to keep people a safe distance from any hazard and to prevent them from wandering into the site.  The MSDS sheet will have appropriate cleanup procedures.  These may include eliminating all ignition sources, covering the spill with absorbent materials, providing adequate ventilation, and appropriate cleanup and disposal procedures of all spilled product and cleanup materials.

    DO NOT FLUSH hazardous chemicals down the drain or into sewage disposal systems.  If infiltration does occur, alert the appropriate authorities, usually the fire department.



MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheets


    The prop shop should maintain a binder with an MSDS sheet on the chemicals, products, and hazardous substances in the shop.  MSDS sheets provide handling and working information on a particular substance.   These sheets are particularly helpful when working with a product that has not been handled in some time and the artisan wishes a refresher lesson in safe handling or processing of the material.  The MSDS sheet contains a variety of information depending on the product.  

The information may include:

Ø name of product

Ø physical data

Ø toxicity

Ø health effects

Ø first aid

Ø reactivity

Ø safe storage requirements

Ø disposal protocols

Ø required or suggested protective equipment for handling

Ø exposure potential

Ø emergency/ spill handling procedures

  Click here to view sub-topics:


Worker’s Compensation                First Aid                Workplace Inspection

Personal Protective Equipment     


     Fire Protection               Lock-out/Tag-out

  Click here to view sub-topics:


Worker’s Compensation                First Aid                Workplace Inspection

Personal Protective Equipment          Fire Protection         Lock-out/Tag-out

Click to see next chapter:  MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES


MSDS information kept in binders available to any production staff member.  Courtesy of  SEATTLE REPERTORY THEATRE