Thursday, October 14, 2010

What the heck is an MSDS and why do I care?

I work with books. That being said I also work for Brigham City Corporation and they have a safety policy that requires us to keep an MSDS book to inform the staff and the public of chemicals that are in the library. An MSDS, for those who don't know, is a Material Safety Data Sheet. The MSDS gives specific information about chemicals and how to handle them safely. We have more chemicals than you would think, from book cleaners to toilet cleaners to spray paint. MSDS sheets are available to the public in most government buildings. You should see a sign telling you where it is available for viewing. Ours will be posted in the lobby and the actual book will be in our staff area and available upon request. Now, I'm certain that this will be the least read book in the library, but it is my duty as the safety officer to keep it up-to-date and ready for inspection. I wish I could say it was interesting reading, but it's not.

Some of the data included in the MSDS sheets seems like common sense. For example, avoid spraying bug killer in your eyes. Some of the data however seems nonsensical. For example, if you spill Palmolive Dish Liquid, the MSDS tells you to flush with water for proper clean up. Duh! Okay, so I guess if we were dealing with less common chemicals the clean up info would be helpful. I wouldn't really know how to clean up Methlyetholketone properly. Our current mayor spent 40 years as a chemist and was appalled that every department didn't have a current MSDS book, so he is whipping us into shape on this. From the Police Department to the Senior Center, we will be MSDS compliant.

Fortunately for me it is the age of the Internet and MSDS forms are as easy to find as doing a google search on Waxie Traffic Signal Disinfectant Bowl Cleaner for toilets. So now, if you need to see what the chemical effect of Susan's African Violet fertilizer is, we can show you!

Michele, Children's Librarian

1 comment:

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