Handling Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)/Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

The following procedures are required for all University of Washington work areas, unless EH&S has given you written approval of alternate procedures. (For the purposes of this section, an SDS is considered equivalent to an MSDS.)

The most significant requirement is that the MSDSs for your chemicals must be readily accessible to employees when at work – they can’t be locked in a file cabinet unless everyone has a key. (Employees working at a variety of locations during a shift should have access to MSDSs at a centralized location – such as where they may clock in.)

Two methods of retrieving MSDSs are available - electronic copies or paper copies. You can choose the method you prefer if your department has not specified the method. Along with information about the method you may use, please also review the MSDS maintenance info at the end of this web page, to help EH&S manage the MSDS repository.

Electronic Retrieval

MyChem is the preferred method for access since the inventory line is linked automatically to the specific MSDS. If using electronic retrieval, all workers must be trained and must be able to demonstrate that they can retrieve or obtain a chemical's MSDS using the electronic access system. All personnel having a UWNetID have access to the MyChem MSDS repository.

Electronic retrieval could also consist of retrieval from web sites or from compact disks or other storage device, but all employees must be able to show that they can get any specific MSDS as needed. It is desirable that each employee demonstrate that they can retrieve a specific MSDS, such as possibly having a contest during a training class to see who can get the MSDS for one of the work area's chemicals the quickest.

In case you lose access to MyChem and you need access to an MSDS, you should contact EH&S (206-616-4046 or if no answer 206-616-5835) who can fax or otherwise provide an MSDS for chemicals in the MyChem system within the work shift. If this is necessary at a time other than routine work hours, contact the UWPD at 206-685-UWPD (8973), and they can contact the EH&S Staff on Call representative who can contact EH&S personnel experienced in accessing the MyChem MSDS files.

MSDSs for hazardous chemicals are generally readily accessible electronically to employees using the MyChem inventory. However, for use during training, or due to possible emergencies when a person is contaminated and needs to go to the emergency room, we recommend you maintain a paper copy of some MSDSs - those hazardous chemicals stored and used that might have the highest risk of exposure or are most likely to be spilled.

Paper Copy Retrieval

If you prefer to use paper copies rather than retrieving the MSDSs from MyChem, all your employees must demonstrate that they can locate the correct MSDS from the MSDS file. There should be an obvious index for the file, listing each chemical by its common name (as shown on the chemical label), and the MSDSs should be filed following the index in the order shown in the index.

The index must be updated whenever a new chemical is added to the inventory and the paper copy must be added to the file at that time. When chemicals will no longer be used and there is no more stock, the chemical should be deleted from the index and the MSDS removed. The file should be checked annually to verify that all MSDSs are present and legible.

An inventory of hazardous chemicals must still be maintained in MyChem. (Refer here for more information.). If a paper MSDS is more than five (5) years old, MyChem should be checked to see if a more current copy is available. The MSDS index and MyChem inventory should be cross-checked annually to check that both lists are complete and that all necessary MSDSs/SDSs are available.

Additional MSDS Maintenance Information

If you receive an MSDS for a product with no MSDS in MyChem (or an out-of-date MSDS in MyChem), please send the MSDS to EH&S to be added to the central repository. (Address to: EH&S MSDS Coordinator, Box 354110)

EH&S will assist in compiling work area MSDS collections and will request an MSDS from the manufacturer for those MyChem inventory line chemicals with no MSDS on file in the central database repository as time is available.

We recommend that you have a copy of the appropriate MSDS(s) when talking to or visiting the emergency room following a hazardous chemical exposure.

A Safety Data Sheet (SDS) generated in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) provides similar information to that of an MSDS and is an acceptable substitute for a chemical's MSDS.