Material Safety Data Sheets: How to keep them organized for quick reference.

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by Tom Watson on January 26, 2014

When you operate your own cleaning business you’ll be responsible for the purchase, use and storage of various cleaning solutions.

This means you will have cleaning chemicals at your home or office, at the job site and probably in your vehicle as well. In the spirit of staying organized – not to mention OSHA compliant – you’ll want to collect the MSDS records for each product you use.

MSDS Background

If you are new to the business, MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheets and they are an important part of the occupational safety and health of everyone who either works with or is potentially exposed to various products.

The whole idea behind them was to provide workers and emergency personal with a clear idea of what hazards are present in a given product, how to treat those who may have been exposed and provide insight in how they should be handled on a day-to-day basis.

Each MSDS contains a uniform set of information. This means that they will all follow the same format which makes them easy to read and understand at a glance once you get familiar with the layout.

Virtually all MSDS forms can be found online in one way or another. If you purchase solutions from a janitorial distributor they could assist you in obtaining them in most cases.

How to keep MSDS records

To start with we always went with the easiest way possible so we chose to use a simple 3 ring binder to keep our MSDS records in. Nothing fancy, just whatever you can pick up cheaply at the office supply store will work just fine.

From there we made a list of all the solutions we were using and started looking online for the matching MSDS. Most of the time we found them very quickly, but for a few we had to call our distributor who found them for us. The best way is to just find the MSDS as soon as you purchase any new product.

What we used to do is get all the MSDS records and put them in the binder then make a cover sheet for the front that had our company name, logo and contact info. We then made at least three copies in three different binders.

We always kept one where the solution were stored, as you never know when you may need the forms. We also kept one in any vehicle that transported them. I believe you need to have the binder available within arms reach to the driver, so we kept it behind the seat.

The last one was kept in the storage room at our customers location provided we kept solutions there. In a few cases we had to make an extra copy for the facility manager who wanted a copy for their records.

I would suggest you stay on top of this and make it a priority to get your business as organized as possible. It’s details like this that make for a well run cleaning operation that attends to the details that the fly by night companies don’t bother with.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eric January 26, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for this info Tom.

2 Tom Watson January 26, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Your very welcome Eric!

3 muna January 27, 2014 at 12:20 am


4 Tom Watson January 27, 2014 at 8:18 am

Hi Muna! Happy to help.

5 February 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Excellent tips. Thank you Tom. Your brilliant.
Sarah. Cleanicol, UK.

6 Tom Watson February 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

Thanks Sarah!

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