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The how-to & not-to-do of SDS/MSDS sheets!

May 05, 2020 12:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With our upcoming AZA accreditation, I took it upon myself to review and update our Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)/Safety Data Sheet (SDS) paperwork for the Horticulture department. I have had some really good ideas in my life, but this was not one of them. In reviewing the existing books, I found chemicals that we no longer use, found SDSs dating back in the ’90s and found more than a few roach egg casings. We had more than 250 SDSs to review. This was looking like an incredibly dumb idea. But who better to organize these than the OCD curator? Again, not my best idea.

            So, my first move was to rip (literally) the pages out of the book. And I gotta tell you that it felt really really good. We hadn’t used some of those papers in three decades. I then started printing out all new SDSs.

            After I printed out all new and updated SDSs, I noticed that not all SDSs are the same. My question is, why the heck not? We put men on the moon and can’t use one format for SDSs? So, I am going to review my process and let you know what I learned from this “project.” This is for your own good. Pay attention.

  • 1.      Never volunteer for this project.
  • 2.      If you are volunteered for this, say no, unless it is under threat of firing.
  • 3.      If you volunteer for this project, you are insane and deserve what you get.
  • 4.      Make sure you have an updated chemical list in your chemical shed (or locker, shoebox, trunk of your car, etc.).
  • 5.      Also keep a digital copy safe in the 10,000 files you are already keeping safe.
  • 6.      Make sure the SDS you are searching for matches the actual chemical you have. A lot of different companies make horticultural oil but match it to what you have (a huge pain in the buttocks).
  • 7.      Cross reference the EPA # and make sure they match.
  • 8.      Try to find the most updated copy (harder than it sounds and, again, buttocks are involved).
  • 9.      Don’t do what I did, which was print out more than 200 SDSs only to be told by my administrative assistant that she also needs a complete copy for her office AND I needed to download those copies onto a jump drive so she can update our online SDS database which was out of date.
  • 10.  Remember all those sheets I ripped out of the book with wild abandon? Well, now OSHA requires you to keep SDSs for 30 years. Who the heck knew that!? If you raise your hand, I will smack you at the next conference.
  • 11.  Keep all outdated SDSs, fool.

  • 12.  Keep a table of contents.
  • 13.  So, not only do I have two notebooks (A–L and M–Z).

            I also have an obsolete notebook of chemicals we no longer use, per OSHA—although I think I will have to change the title.

            That is actually a good idea, I just wished I had known that in paragraph two.

            So, it took me two weeks to do this project and I have aged five years. There is a ton of online data about keeping records and MSDSs. I Googled “saving MSDSs”

and there were 3,690,000 documents. I read four. I recommend www.msdsonline.com/. It’s the rule, guys. Catch it before they catch you!

            So, this month’s word of advice: don’t volunteer, but if you do get stuck with this project, find someone on light duty… Good luck!

’Til next time.

Denise Rogers

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