The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that MSDSs are available to employees for potentially harmful substances.  A MSDS summarizes information about the material, including chemical components, hazard identification, first aid, spill, and fire fighting procedures, incompatibilities, safe handling and storage requirements, and disposal guidelines.  The laboratory supervisor/principal investigator (PI) or his/her designee is responsible for providing access to MSDSs to workers in the laboratory.  Here are a few guidelines:

  • Workers should review an MSDS prior to working with a chemical.  MSDSs should also be readily available for quick response to spills, medical emergencies, and other situations involving the chemical.
  • Workers are encouraged to keep hard copies of MSDSs in the laboratory.  Hard copies can be obtained in two ways:
  1. Chemical manufacturers often ship an MSDS with a chemical or mail it to the laboratory separately.  When a hard copy of an MSDS is received in the laboratory, it should be saved for future reference.  New copies should replace older versions.
  2. MSDSs are also often available online.  Laboratory workers can download and print copies of MSDSs from manufacturers’ websites and keep them in or near the laboratory.
  • Digital copies of MSDSs are only acceptable if there is a computer station or stations available in the laboratory from which they can be accessed at all times.  Laboratories are encouraged to use digital copies of MSDSs to supplement their hard copies, not replace them.