Laboratory Chemical Safety

Laboratory MSDS

Laboratory MSDS Management and Other Chemical Information

Chemical information and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's) must be available for all chemicals (solids, liquids, and gases) as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) Laboratory Safety Standard and the Hazard Communication Standard. The MSDS sheets must be accessible to all employees at all times to achieve compliance with these regulations.

Access to MSDS’s can be provided as paper copies, electronic, or via the internet. The OSHA regulations do not require a paper copy.

[29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(8) "Electronic access, microfiche, and other alternatives to maintaining paper copies of the material safety data sheets are permitted as long as no barriers to immediate employee access in each workplace are created by such options."]

EH&S maintains links to a number of MSDS websites and other chemical information found below. Laboratories are strongly urged to print the MSDS sheets for their chemicals from the manufacturer that produced them and keep them in a clearly marked three ring binder in the laboratory on a bookshelf where they will be visible to all employees.

"Employees" include maintenance and cleaning staff also, so they have to be familiar with the method of getting the MSDS on-line, and they must have ready access to the hardware that permits that access. Additionally, provisions are needed for dealing with long-term interruptions to power, the network, or the server which would make electronic versions unavailable.

Having MSDS websites bookmarked is acceptable as long as all employees in the workplace know where to find the MSDS and are trained on the use of computers to access MSDS’s. If a laboratory chooses to use electronic access, then EH&S recommends the MSDS website link be posted on the computer or in another conspicuous location.

Accidents involving chemicals will require an MSDS be provided to emergency response personnel and to the attending physician so proper treatment can be administered. The "rule of thumb" is that a person working in a laboratory should be able to produce an MSDS for any hazardous chemical found in the lab within five minutes.

EH&S recommends maintaining these binders continually. If, for example, someone goes to the emergency room with a chemical in their eyes, they need not waste time looking for the exact MSDS sheet, just take the entire binder. EH&S will provide MSDS’s to the emergency rooms on request however this wastes precious time and is problematic. For example, sometimes the victim will only know the trade name of the product, or sometimes they know the primary chemical name but not the concentration, etc., all of which would be on the MSDS provided by the manufacturer in the binder. Therefore, it is a prudent practice to maintain an MSDS for the exact chemical from the manufacturer in a binder in the laboratory.

Chemical Manufacturer MSDS Resources
Additional MSDS Resources  
Chemical Information Databases