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Safety Data Sheets

Requirements are different for labs versus non-labs.

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard mandates that Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) be available in every work area where hazardous chemicals are used or stored, except as explained below. They must be available to all employees on all work shifts in a manner or language they can understand. When an old SDS is replaced by an updated version, the old one is to be archived along with information on the dates and locations when and where it was the current SDS on file. An archived SDSs must be kept for 30 years after the date of retirement, death, or cessation of employment of any employees working in the work area where the archived SDS was once the current SDS.

Neither the Laboratory Standard nor the Purdue CHP template require as vigilant an effort to acquire SDSs for laboratories as is mandated for non-lab chemical use areas by the Hazard Communication Standard. Some safety professionals believe this was an error of judgment by OSHA, and many employers require or strongly recommend that lab managers/PIs make a concerted effort to acquire the sheets. Here are some guidelines from Lila Albin for those labs wishing to do this.

  1. Keep the MSDSs in the lab and relative to that lab. They should be obvious (binder marked SDS or file cabinet marked SDS) and near the entrance. This is in case emergency personnel need that information it is close and they do not have to go through the room hunting and/or go through the spill to get them.
  2. The lab standard does require that you keep and maintain any SDS you receive. It is best practice to have at hand (local network, hard drive, or paper copy) SDSs for all your products in the lab and preferably before the material comes in to the lab or at least at the same time.
  3. Many of the manufacturers/distributors now have SDSs on their web sites.
    1. Sigma-Aldrich
    2. REM resources
    3. CCOHS
    4. misc saved for training exercises
  4. The new elements (classifications, phrases, pictograms) being incorporated into SDSs between 2012 and 2016 result from the adoption by the US of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This document from OSHA details their meanings.