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What are material safety data sheets and why do you need them?

If individuals at your company use or handle potentially hazardous chemicals material safety data sheets (MSDS) are a critical part your safety program. A material safety data sheet is a document that contains information on the potential hazards of chemical products and provides instructions on how to use, store and handle the chemicals to avoid accidents and injuries.

OSHA specifically requires that “the employer shall maintain in the workplace copies of the required MSDS sheets for each hazardous chemical and shall ensure that they are readily accessible during each work shift to employees when they are in their workarea(s).”

To view OSHA’s full chemical hazard communication regulations, visit OSHA’s web site.

Storing your MSDS Information
Given these regulations, some companies may need to maintain hundreds of MSDS sheets on chemicals used in their facilities. An easy way to store and organize all of your MSDS information in one place is in an MSDS (right-to-know) station.

MSDS stations come in all shapes sizes and colors. But, typically stations provide binders in which to store all of your MSDS sheets and often include a backboard with a rack to put the binder in, all of which attaches right to your facility’s wall.It’s best to get a station with a backboard that is a bright color to make it easy for employees to locate chemical hazard information when they need it. You may want to consider supplementing the station with a sign above or near it that makes locating an MSDS station even easier. Some MSDS stations also include a reference guide that details and explains each section of an MSDS sheet. This helps ensure that after training, employees can still understand MSDS information, helping to avoid accidents.

Remember, if your facility is required to have MSDS information provided to employees, be sure to train your
employees on how to read and understand MSDS sheets. Also, ensure MSDS sheets are easily accessible to everyone in the facility. If you have a large facility, you may even want to consider having multiple
stations around the facility for quick access if needed.

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