When MSDS Management Becomes a Game of Hot Potato

The classic “hot potato” game.

When is comes to proper MSDS management and employee right to know, who in your organization is responsible in handling this task? Companies seems to go to three main departments for MSDS management. The three big players here are the safety dept, the EHS dept, or human resources. Sometimes this job even gets pushed to stranger places like the security department.

This so called “hot potato” scenario gets played more than it should when it comes to MSDS management. It happens for a number of different reasons. One of the big ones is employees moving in and out of a company and the MSDS job falling through the cracks. Folks get transferred or change positions and this can cause the MSDS responsibility to get lost in the transfer. Another classic situation really has to do with one department simply not having enough time to handle the MSDS situation and asking for assistance from other directions and then not getting the help they need. This will cause a break down in the system simply because someone will constantly need to keep an open when it comes to proper MSDS management.

It takes a considerable amount of time to run a complete and solid MSDS management system.

One of the insidious aspects of the MSDS binders becoming the proverbial hot potato is that each time a transition occurs valuable knowledge is lost, because it is not documented.  Everyone creates their own management system, which is fine if it is continued, but when the system changes continuously there is very little continuity.

This makes a nightmare for HR who is typically responsible for ensuring that employees are properly trained in the system.  They probably do not even realize the system is changed and may continue to educate new hires in a now replaced set of procedures.