Laboratory Chemical Safety

Laboratory Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Laboratory MSDS/SDS Management and Other Chemical Information

In 2012, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Chemical Labeling and Classification. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires that GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and the former Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) be maintained and available for all chemicals (solids, liquids, and gases) used in the workplace including laboratories. The SDSs and existing MSDSs must be accessible to all employees at all times to achieve compliance with these regulations.

EHS provides access to an online service called "MSDSonline" for this purpose and provides links to a number of MSDS/SDS websites and other chemical information found below. To access SDSs using the online service use the following link below. Then type in the name of your chemical and select the MSDS or SDS from the manufacturer of your product, chemical, concentration or mixture.

MSDSonline Search

Laboratories are strongly urged to print the MSDS/SDS 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. This will also provide access to MSDS/SDS during interruptions in electrical service, the network, or the server which would make electronic versions unavailable.

Access to MSDS/SDS 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."]

"Employees" include everyone that works in the laboratory. All employees must have ready access to the hardware that permits that access. All employees must be familiar with the method of getting the MSDS/SDS on-line. Please download and post the following sign that provides instructions for accessing MSDSonline.

MSDSonline Instructions

Having manufacturers MSDS/SDS websites bookmarked is acceptable as long as all employees in the workplace know where to find the MSDS/SDS and are trained on the use of computers to access the information. If a laboratory chooses to use electronic access to manufacturer’s websites, then EHS recommends posting the MSDS/SDS website link on the computer or in another conspicuous location.

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

EHS 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 SDS sheet, simply take the entire binder. EHS can provide SDS’s to the emergency rooms on request however this uses 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/SDS provided by the manufacturer in the binder. Therefore, it is a prudent practice to maintain an MSDS/SDS for the exact chemical from the manufacturer in a binder in the laboratory.

Chemical Manufacturer MSDS/SDS Resources
Additional MSDS/SDS Resources  
Chemical Information Databases