Tuesday, August 23, 2016
If you have ever worked in the field of occupational health and safety or a food production facility, an MSDS or "Material Safety Data Sheet" should be a familiar concept to you. An MSDS is a document outlining the dangers, long-term health risks, and emergency procedures associated with chemical substances in a work environment.
What is the Importance of an MSDS?
An MSDS is considered to be a necessary starting point for any health and safety program within a company. For any potentially harmful material being used, an MSDS will explain procedures regarding handling, storage, on-site use, and emergency protocols. In relation to products being sold to customers, an MSDS provides a much greater description of the product's potential hazards than the label on the product itself.
When Is an MSDS Required?
The U.S. government's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) determines the requirements for MSDS documentation in addition to what substances an MSDS should be used for. According to OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard, all chemicals produced, handled, or imported should be classified, and all information regarding the potential dangers of these chemicals should be communicated to both employers and employees. An MSDS should be used if a substance meets OSHA's definition of "hazardous" and is known to be frequently present in the workplace. The guidelines of an MSDS must be enacted through extensive hazard communication programs, which should include container label warnings and employee emergency procedure training.
How Long Do You Have to Keep an MSDS Sheet?
OSHA requires an organization to keep some record of the identity of any hazardous substance for 30 years after last use. Using an MSDS as your record will usually be the most direct and easiest method of documentation, although an MSDS is not strictly required for a 30 year period.
Where Can I Find an MSDS Sheet?
Your workplace or laboratory should have a stock of MSDS sheets for the chemicals your company has ordered.In addition, most universities and businesses stock MSDS documents. You can also check your local Environmental or Occupational Health Office. An MSDS sheet can even be requested from the distributor that sold you the material. If you can't contact them directly you can try to get in touch with their customer service department. A vast number of free MSDS resources can easily be found online as well. If you are still having trouble, you can purchase MSDS software or other online MSDS subscription services.