Joint Commission Readiness – MSDSs – What are they, where are they and how can I find them?

Often during Joint Commission surveys, the surveyor will question staff about the location of MSDSs and how employees access them. It is important for staff to be able to respond correctly.

MSDS is a very widely used abbreviation for Material Safety Data Sheet. A MSDS contains details of the hazards associated with a chemical and gives information on its safe use. Many years ago, paper copies of Chemical Inventory Lists and MSDSs were maintained in books in each department but we went to an electronic format some time ago.

Staff need to know that there are no longer paper copies of MSDSs in the department unless your individual department has chosen to keep paper copies of your MSDSs. Each department does have an electronic Chemical Inventory List and all MSDSs are in an electronic format and can be found at There is also a quick link on the Intranet homepage under Emergency Preparedness at MSDS Search.

If questioned by a surveyor, staff should be able to respond that all MSDSs are available online through the Intranet and know how to access them. Should staff not have access to the Intranet or in the event of an internet service interruption, EH&S maintains backup copies and can provide them as needed.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact EH&S at 6-0749.

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