Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
An MSDS should be obtained for each chemical that is used by your department, division, laboratory or shop. Each MSDS must be specific to the product that it describes and specific to the manufacturer of the substance.
EH&S recommends that each department or laboratory that uses chemicals, place one person in charge of maintaining the Material Safety Data Sheets. This person is responsible for making sure that there is an MSDS on file for every hazardous substance in the in area. Each MSDS needs to be kept in a location where everyone in the division or lab group can access the information. EH&S recommends filing MSDSs in a binder labeled MSDS and keep it an area where safety and emergency information is kept. While an electronic format is an acceptable way to store MSDSs, it is recommended to keep a hard copy as well (in case of a power outage or computer failure).
Web Based Retrieval
The web is a convenient and quick way to retrieve Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). However, one should use caution when retrieving MSDSs from the Internet. Some of the MSDSs found on the Internet may be of questionable quality or may not be the most current version of the MSDS. You should be using the most current MSDS for that chemical and be sure that it is specific to the manufacturer of the chemical as well. When in doubt consult with EH&S.
The University of California's Offices of Environmental Health and Safety have combined efforts and resources to create a "one-stop" source for chemical safety information. This search engine contains chemicals from many of the key chemical suppliers to the UC system. Click on the "UC MSDS" link below or in the related links section of this page for access. To connect directly, you must use a recognized UC campus computer. If you are off-campus, you will need to enter a username and password for access. Contact EH&S if you are having difficulty connecting.
Additional Web Based Information on Hazardous Substances
UCLA employees and students also have access to a database known as Tomes that provides additional web based information on hazardous substances. Tomes is a collection of databases comprised of toxicology and hazard communication information. Tomes information cannot be used in lieu of manufacturer specific MSDSs, but Tomes can be a valuable resource to augment the MSDS information. Tomes can be accessed using either the "Tomes" link below or in the related links section of this page.
Manufacturer MSDS Retrieval
The manufacturer or distributor of hazardous substances is required to provide an MSDS for every substance that they distribute. The manufacturer is often the best source of the MSDS, since the information provided is usually the most current and accurate. Manufacturer MSDSs are available through the following routes:
Included with Chemical Shipment
Often the MSDS for the chemical is received with the shipping papers. If so, simply collect the most recent copy and file it in your MSDS binder.
Requesting an MSDS from the Manufacturer
Information about the manufacturer should be present on the label of the substance or with the shipping papers. Call the manufacturer and request an MSDS. Many companies will fax the MSDS to you as soon as they get a request. Many companies also have MSDSs available on their website. Contact EH&S for assistance, if you do not receive a response from the manufacturer within 1 week.
EH&S is available to help you get started in collecting the MSDSs that you require. If you are having trouble getting an MSDS from a manufacturer, do not hesitate to call EH&S for assistance.
Another component of Hazard Communication is container labeling. All containers of chemicals at UCLA should be labeled as to the contents even if you know what is in the container.
Labels on purchased chemicals must contain:
- The identity of the chemical
- Appropriate hazard warnings
- The name of the company that manufactured or distributed the chemical
EH&S recommends that chemicals are dated as they are received. Good labeling practices will prevent laboratory accidents and can avoid costly charges for disposal of unknown chemicals.