Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS is a useful resource of information on chemical properties, physical behaviour,hazard properties, handling and storage requirements, toxicology, properties, transportation guidelines and first aid measures that should be adopted in the event of exposure to the chemical. Every laboratory worker cannot be expected to know the information given in MSDS for each and every chemical in the lab so it becomes an absolute necessity to provide a resource on such information which should be accessible by one and all in the laboratory.
The importance of material safety data sheets in laboratories and warehouses details the nature of the information covered in such data sheets. However, there is a pressing requirement that there is awareness among laboratory staff of its availability, usefulness and access.
MSDS needs to be effectively managed and controlled otherwise it will be reduced to a normal laboratory record and start gathering dust over time. To make complete use of MSDS the following suggestions should prove to be helpful
Each and every laboratory staff needs to be informed about the important role of MSDS. It can be argued that the container labels bear all the relevant information so what is the need for MSDS? It has to be realized that MSDS provides much more details about the product and in addition provides all relevant safety measures and information in the event of exposure or ingestion of the product.
Location and Access
It is important that MSDS is accessible by one and all in the laboratory round-the-clock. It should not be kept under lock and key under any circumstances. A hard copy can be kept in a centrally located shelf and soft copies can be made accessible on data systems across the laboratory. Further it is advised that along with safety charts the location details of MSDS should be clearly displayed in bold letter display charts.
Review of Contents
No MSDS should be over three years old. Each MSDS should be reviewed for any updates available on the product. In the absence of such updates the MSDS needs to be reviewed and a record of review needs to be maintained. It is the responsibility of every laboratory management to ensure that MSDS is available for each and every product that is introduced into the laboratory irrespective of its hazard properties.
Review of MSDS record should become a part of any periodic safety audit of laboratories. The auditors should ensure availability of MSDS on any 2 to 3 randomly selected products. Ensure that they have been reviewed/updated within the last three years and systems are in place to make them accessible to all laboratory staff irrespective of nature of their duties.