As a part of an overarching workplace safety agenda, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the availability of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) whenever potentially toxic or harmful substances are used in the workplace. MSDS sheets must be available to employees at all times, as well as for firefighters and other emergency first responders. Commercial cleaning companies regularly use cleaning products and other chemicals that may be hazardous or toxic to humans. Understanding MSDS requirements can keep your employees and clients safe.
Are Cleaning Contractors Required to Supply MSDS?
Typically, MSDS are not meant for the consumer. If you use the services of a professional janitorial company, you are considered to be the consumer. But, any potentially hazardous product used in your business requires the presence of MSDS for your employees, even if the products are used by a contractor. For this reason, it is crucial for your cleaning contractor to supply you with a binder containing MSDS for all products that may be used in your facility. If the company changes or adds products, they must provide you with an updated binder or update the relevant sections.
Cleaning Products Purchased for Office Use
According to OSHA, if you use consumer-strength cleaning products—for example, Windex or 409—and if your employees use them no more often than a consumer would in the home, you are not required to provide MSDS. However, adhering to the “better safe than sorry” principal, erring on the side of safety and full disclosure is always the best approach. For any chemicals that you purchase or use in your facility, obtain MSDS and keep them in a binder. Store the binder on an open shelf in a common area of the office. Employees must have access to the binder without hindrance, meaning that the binder should not be locked up or kept in a room that is off-limits to staff. Many companies keep the binder in the office kitchen, copy room or reception area.
Other MSDS Considerations
Even innocuous products such as copier or printer toner, monitor cleaning solution and spray disinfectants may require MSDS. Appoint someone from your human resources or your workplace safety departments to obtain data sheets for every product used in your facility and instruct all employees about the location and use of MSDS. Each MSDS outlines emergency procedures to follow in the event of a spill, accidental ingestion or exposure. By exercising diligence with MSDS, you not only protect your company from OSHA violations but also ensure that your staff is protected in the event of an emergency.