Health and Safety News: MSDS – A FORGOTTEN TOOL

WHMIS or Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System requires Provincial and Federal workplace compliance to its legislation. In our never ending world of Health & Safety acts, codes, legislations, guidelines and standards (lawyers have nothing on us) WHMIS is one of the few regulations that is universally pervasive to provincial and federal workers. Employers must provide WHMIS training to all workers.
Inside the WHMIS legislation is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) requirements for controlled products. Updated MSDS information is given to employers from suppliers and must not be “expired” (dated within the last 3 years).
Enough of regulation ho hums. I am not here to give WHMIS training as you would probably be asleep by now. Workers receive training in WHMIS including MSDS, it’s a legal thing and it’s our right to know.
My concern is even though training in WHMIS is not the most exciting thing in the world have we overlooked this great tool? Whether your workplace is a large company or the corner store or whether your workplace committee is strong or weak the MSDS is always there to give you data that will protect you the user.

The content of MSDS is a great environmental health and safety program in itself. From first aid to personal protective equipment to hazardous ingredients the MSDS is a complete library that gives the user information to protect themselves and other workers from unwanted exposures or risks. All we have to do is read it.
I know company timelines, pressures and access are all excuses I have found with my own brothers and sisters when I ask why they have not read the MSDS for the product they are using. Another common excuse is “it never changes”, wrong. MSDS sheets do and will change constantly. This reason alone is why MSDS should always be reviewed.
This tool needs to be at the forefront of all workplace safety programs. Encourage your workers to put it back in their tool boxes. MSDS is our right to know what can hurt us. By regulation MSDS must be available to workers at all times either by paper copy, internet, intranet, 1-800 numbers etc. Put MSDS at the forefront of your Health & Safety program.