Keeping Material Safety Data Sheets on File

Why do we need to keep the Material Safety Data Sheets on file for 30 years, even if we no longer use the products?

The Safety Exchange Says: OSHA requires 30-year retention of Safety Data Sheets or SDSs (formerly called MSDSs), because some occupational exposures can take even that long to become apparent as disease. Asbestos, benzene, and nicotine are well-known to be such “chronic” toxins, but the evidence of toxicity for many other chemicals is far from established. Sometimes a combination of exposures from two or more chemicals over time increases the odds of an illness.

The mere existence of an SDS all those years later does not prove an employee worked with, or was exposed to, a certain substance. This is why OSHA suggests “alternate information” be kept that describes the time period and duration of possible exposure.

The idea that chemical overexposure years ago can bring about a disease is a scary notion. Do your part to create a safe future for yourself and coworkers by minimizing all chemical exposures to the bare minimum with safer product substitution, safe work practices, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment.