Organizing the MSDS

By: December 11th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: I am trying to standardize and simplify the organization of the MSDS in our organization. Many products that we use have a constituent in them that may be hazardous. In a true emergency, the employee may not know what hazardous substance is in the product but should know to look it up in the MSDS manual. An example is laboratory test kits that may contain a diluent or extraction solution. In that case, do you organize the MSDS by the manufacturer’s brand name, or by the common name of the product? What are you suggestions/guidelines?

A: My recommendation is to organize alphabetically based on the common names, since in an emergency this is where staff members will look first for information. OSHA requires that the name on the actual container label match up with the name on the MSDS, so do a spot check of this, too. If you use an identical product from multiple manufacturers, you don’t have to file an MSDS for each company. A single representative MSDS is okay as long as the information is complete and your staff members know which product it’s for.

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


I work in a healthcare setting and we educated the staff on how to view and add chemicals to MSDS. Is this accepetable?

By Pameal Dembski Hart on January 3rd, 2013 at 10:16 am

(to Jaden) HAZCOM training requires more than what you have described above.Under the hazard communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200(h)(1), “employers should provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area” and the requirements of this standard. Other information should include use of labels and material safety data sheets, location and details of the written hazard communication program, health hazards of chemicals in the work area and protection methods, including PPE.

Training in PPE should explain when it is needed; how to appropriately select, maintain and use PPE; length of useful life; and proper disposal [29 CFR1910.132(f)].

The Hazard Communication Standard initially said that workers have the “right to know”, but the new Globally Harmonized System (GHS OSHA 2012)provides workers with the “right to understand”.These regulations are complex and therefore there will be a four year timeline for employers, chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors to complete the transition :

December 1, 2013 – By this date, employers must train employees on how to read GHS formatted labels and SDSs. Changes to labels are probably more substantial, however, employees need to understand where to find information on the SDS, especially in section 2 where critical hazard informat
Pamela Dembski Hart BS MT ASCP CHSP
Principal, Healthcare Accreditation Resources LLC


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