This blog post contains everything you ever wanted to know about MSDS, but were afraid to ask. Actually, this is my first introduction to MSDS and I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator and instructor than Terry Stanford, our very own Capital Projects Documentation Manager.
First things first. MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheets and you can find out all about the history here, thanks to our friends at Wikipedia. The short version is that MSDS provides workers with safety information in working with chemicals on our campus. It’s part of a requirement (it’s the law folks), from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), that all employees have access to emergency data.
Terry oversees all of the physical MSDS books within facilities and is currently making huge efforts moves to put that information online, available for all employees, through MSDSonline. In fact, he’s recently added over 300 of these documents (via MSDSonline searches and by scanning local copies) specifically for his department. By his estimates that only covers about 35% of the chemicals and products contained within facilities and he’s working hard to see that percentage rise.
Eventually, all of the documents and procedures within the facilities MSDS books, as well as products not yet in the system, will be contained in the online tool. Getting to that point will provide unlimited access for all employees, ensure transparency across departments, and allow consolidated reporting if we are ever audited.
This is just the beginning though. As Terry works to get me up to speed on best practices within his own department and as I learn the capabilities of the online system, we hope to work with other departments to utilize this same tool.