One Step Closer: Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Process

Step ­by­ Step

Bart and Steve utilizing the best of both worlds (physical copies of SDS sheets and MSDSonline).

It’s official! Okay, not “official-official”…but close enough to official to write a blog post about it. Last week I outlined Safety Data Sheet (SDS) recommendations created in collaboration with the Environmental Health and Safety Committee (EHS). This week we take another baby-step towards the SDS process at Green River College.

Like all exceptional processes out there, ours must follow the basic principles of the three step rule (mainly that there only be three steps). Those steps include Adding SDS to MSDSonline, Saving PDFs to the Network Drive, and Adding SDS to Physical Binders in the Office. Below is a detailed breakdown for those who can’t wait to get started.


Bart is having the time of his life finding SDS sheets online!

Step 1: Add SDS to MSDSonline

MSDSonline is a vendor­-specific tool that provides Green River with a virtual space to store SDS. The benefits of this service include being able to view SDS across the entire institution, searching by specific locations, and auto­-updated SDS. Whereas the physical binders are limited by their location, printed version of the SDS, and sorting order, this cloud­-based solution is always up to date.


Finding SDS online is a very simple process.

Step ­by­ Step Process:

  1. Log in to M​SDSonline​ (credentials provided by Training Manager).
  2. Click on the “MSDSonline Search” tab.
  3. Type in the manufacturer, product name, or product code to begin your search.
  4. Find the correct search result and click on the check-box to the left of its name. A pop-­up window will appear to the right of the screen. If this item resides in your location, simply click on “Assign to Locations” and choose your specific location.
  5. Repeat this process as often as needed to add individual SDS to your location.

*If for any reason you are unable to find the SDS you are searching for (by product name, manufacturer, or product code), there is an option to upload your own PDF or request that MSDSonline retrieve the SDS on your behalf. These cases are rare though, because most SDS can be retrieved via a simple search. Please contact your friendly Training Manager before uploading your own PDF or initiating a vendor retrieval process (only a limited amount of these processes can be done per calendar year).

Step 2: Save PDFs to Network Drive

Once you have collected a SDS within MSDSonline, you can easily download a PDF version to the network drive.


Downloading a PDF version is just a click away!

Step ­by­ Step Process:

  1. From MSDSonline, click on the “eBinder” tab.
  2. From the “Locations” drop­-down menu, choose your location and click “Search.” The SDS for your location will be displayed below the search fields.
  3. Click on any PDF image icon you wish to download and a pop­-up window will appear. Choose download from this window and save to the directory specified above (in your corresponding folder).
  4. Repeat this process as often as needed to download SDS files.

Step 3: Add SDS to Physical Binder in Office

The last step in this process is to maintain a physical binder within your office. This is important in case the network drive or Internet temporarily goes down for any reason.

Step­ by ­Step Process:

  1. Using either the downloaded PDF or by clicking on the Acrobat image icon via MSDSonline, print the SDS sheet.
  2. Using a 3­-hole puncher, add holes to the printed SDS.
  3. Add the printed SDS to the physical SDS binder in your office area.
  4. Repeat this process for every SDS sheet you add in the future.

One Step Closer: Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Recommendations


In my first environmental safety blog post, Crash Course – MSDS 101, I provided an introduction to this wildly exciting topic. The SDS process however, goes beyond any single department on our campus and helps to protect us all. With that in mind we’re now reaching out to other departments.

A Short History Lesson

Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), provide comprehensive information about a substance, chemical, or product on campus. SDS help the institution identify, label, store, handle, train, and protect our employees. Collecting and maintaining SDS is a requirement of hazard communication (including hazard determination, Right-to-Know access, labeling, safe handling, personal protective equipment, and more).

Poster-Eye-Protection2Environmental Health and Safety Committee (EHS)

In collaboration with the EHS Committee on our campus, very specific steps were identified to help establish clear and consistent processes across campus. Once we are able to institute these recommendations, online access will be provided for all of campus, network access would exist for backup purposes, and physical binders will be placed within buildings.

Key Recommendations

  1. Obtain and add SDS sheets to specific campus locations using the web-based tool MSDSonline.
  2. Download PDF sheets locally to the EHS networked drive.
  3. Print PDFs and place in physical binders at specific locations on campus.

If you have any questions regarding these recommendations, please feel free to contact your friendly (and awesome) Training Manager (that’s me).

Poster-Eye-ProtectionStay Tuned

This process is still being developed and modified to meet both the needs of the institution and the department. We will continue to work behind the scenes and provide updates as we meet milestones. So far, roughly 450 SDS exist within eBinder.

Fun Fact!

In the creation of this post an entire series of Simpsons workplace safety posters was stumbled upon. They are informative and entertaining if you have a few moments to spare.

Crash Course – MSDS 101

Meeting with Terry

I’m about to give Terry an surprise inspection! Not really. We have an appointment.

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.

MSDS with Terry

Terry wrote the books on MSDS. Not really, but he does oversee all of the Facilities MSDS books.

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.

MSDS Sheets

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.

Lots of MSDS sheets to go!

Just some of the many, many products that must be accounted for within MSDS.

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.