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MSDS Library for WHMIS

What is an MSDS Library? This is an index, or storage centre, for your organizations various Material Safety Data Sheets. It is a requirement that each chemical or product be accompanied by its Material Safety Data Sheet in the workplace. The supplier of the chemicals must provide the buyer with an up-to-date MSDS for this purpose, and these sheets are generally valid for a period of 3 years. The MSDS contains information which includes the substance name, substance identification, components, physical data, fire and explosion data, toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, spill procedures, storage computability and protective equipment required.

Material Safety Data sheets can be stored in a variety of formats, and serve many different purposes. Traditionally, these libraries are comprised of an assortment of controlled binders, containing (in alphabetical order) the MSDS documents. These binders must readily available to the workers who are using the chemicals found within. To keep the process very simple; and easy to reference, each individual department will typically have its own binder of MSDS sheets. This is necessary in the event of an incident, accident or spill the MSDS is a quick reference tool for employees on how to handle various situations in a safe manner. It must be easily accessible, well maintained (expired sheets are not permitted in these binders) and the employees need to be able to read the sheets and understand what they are supposed to do when action is required of them.

If your MSDS library is online, this creates the ability to easily see when sheets are expiring without having to locate the binders, and sort through the papers. This can make ordering your replacements much simpler. Having this online index, does not replace the need for the binders perhaps someday it will be acceptable, but for now those sheets need to be on the floor with the workers. Perhaps an exception could be made if the organization had multiple computer terminals on the shop floor, where this information was easily accessible. Due to the nature of the MSDS, and the critical information that they include, time is essential when an incident occurs.

If your Basic WHMIS training is being delivered online, having the online MSDS library might also enable you to provide product specific testing in that same manner. This will of course depend on your current online training provider, and their system capabilities.

How are you currently storing, tracking and controlling your MSDS sheets? Perhaps incorporating an online MSDS library could help your organization, as it has already done for so many others.

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