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Management / Chemicals / Business Management
March 2013 Foreword

Things We Think We Know...

March 06, 2013
KEYWORDS msds / osha / poll / safety
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I’ve always found it interesting that no matter how long someone has been in the industry, there is always something more to learn.

There is a saying that goes like this: When you stop learning, you die. I’m not sure who originally penned those words, but they are very true no matter who you are. It’s not a morbid belief; it’s simply that each person will learn something new each day, and the only way to stop that process is upon death.

OK, maybe this is getting a little morbid, so let’s change direction.

One way to illustrate how each one of us can learn something new each day, and take what we learn to make ourselves and our businesses better, was illustrated in a recent Cleanfax poll. You can see the results of the poll in a graphic pie chart in The Last Word section of this issue.

The poll question posted on the Cleanfax.com homepage was “Which is true in regards to MSDS requirements?” and the options were:

  • They must be printed (in a binder) and on each work truck
  • You only have to have them available if requested by authorities
  • They are required to be on each job site, but not on each truck
  • I am unfamiliar with MSDS requirements

Interesting that, unlike many polls, one option was heavily favored. And it makes sense, since this point has been taught in virtually every seminar I have attended, when it touches on legalities and chemistry. You are probably nodding your head right now… yes, we have to have an MSDS on each truck for each chemical on board. In fact, 85 percent of respondents to the poll chose the first option — the one that says “They must be printed (in a binder) and on each work truck.”

msdsNot entirely true, it seems. There was a day, a few months ago, when I learned something new — about the exciting world of material safety data sheets.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you do not have to have a printed MSDS on your truck for the products you carry. This sounds blasphemous, eh? Read on…

Here is a quote from OSHA:

“Where employees must travel between workplaces during a workshift, i.e., their work is carried out at more than one geographical location, the material safety data sheets may be kept at the primary workplace facility. In this situation, the employer shall ensure that employees can immediately obtain the required information in an emergency.”

And we all know this is an electronic world. OSHA recognizes this, and provides further direction:

“Electronic access and other alternatives to maintaining paper copies of the safety data sheets are permitted as long as no barriers to immediate employee access in each workplace are created by such options.”

What this means to me is that no matter where you are, you must have access to proper MSDS. If they are available electronically, that is fine and conforming to the rules and regulations of OSHA.

I credit Richard Driscoll, a restoration industry instructor and a Cleanfax editorial contributor, for bringing this topic to my attention. It helped me to learn something new… which is an experience I have every day of my life.

I’d like to hear your own comments on this issue. Is it possible I’m missing something? Of course. Send me a note at JCross@NTPMedia.com and share with me some new things you have learned today, as well.

Recent Articles by Jeff Cross, senior editor