Ask the expert: Training for an electronic MSDS system

By: October 22nd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: We use an electronic MSDS access system. Are there any special training requirements we need to know about?

A: The most important training requirement beyond those listed in the standard would be teaching staff members how to use the electronic system to access the required information (how to launch the program, any login requirements (e.g. a password), how to navigate the system to find the desired document, etc.) According to OSHA Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), MSDSs must be “readily available,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if an OSHA inspector asked one of your staff members to demonstrate the use of the system. Another aspect you’ll need to include is how to get an MSDS in the event of an electronic system failure, such as a power outage. Is there a backup generator to power computers on the system? Is the information available by phone? Are there (current) paper copies of the MSDSs somewhere in the office?

*This is an excerpt from The OSHA Training Handbook for Healthcare Facilities by Sarah E. Alholm, MAS.


By Bruce Cunha on October 23rd, 2012 at 8:53 am

While we train employees how to use the electronic MSDS, we also have a small wall poster posted in the work area that goes over how to get an MSDS. It lists how to use the electronic (web) system and also how to call for a faxed/e-mailed MSDS.

I have found if the employee is asked by an inspector and they go to the wall card and say “I follow the instructions posted here” that it normally is sufficient.

By chemo nurse carrie on November 9th, 2012 at 1:11 am

How can my facility get an electronic msds? Sometimes it’s extremely hard finding a new drug’s data sheet.
Is there a program I can install on my computer?

Hello Carrie, managing editor Will Kilburn here.

In terms of getting the MSDS themselves, your manufacturer is required to provide them, and you should be able to get them from their Web site; I say “should” because some Web sites are easier to work with than others.

If they don’t post the MSDS on their Web sites, you can email or call and have them send the sheets to you in an email or as a fax. Generally these days the electronic MSDS are PDF files, which you can view and print on any computer with the free Acrobat reader.

In terms of managing the files on your computer, yes, there are solutions for that, but unfortunately I can’t make specific product recommendations here. But, as with most anything else you might buy these days, a quick check on the Web should give you a pretty good idea what programs are out there and whether people like using them.

do my research paper
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