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What Your Cleaning Company Needs to Know About MSDS

The MSDS is not only important to have on hand for safety reasons; it is also an OSHA requirement that you have the MSDS on hand for every product that your cleaning company uses. These sheets must be available to your employees. In fact, an employee can refuse to work with a product if you cannot show him/her the product’s MSDS.


The MSDS is prepared by the product’s manufacturer. They may appear complicated, but they are broken into sections and are generally easy to follow and understand. There is no specific format for an MSDS, however, it must contain basic chemical information about the product. Included are hazardous ingredients, health hazards, fire and explosion hazards, proper use, storage, disposal, any other special precautions that you or your employees need to know about the product. The MSDS must also have a 24-hour emergency phone number of either the manufacturer or an outside company that can answer questions about the product. The MSDS also includes technical information that is required by law, but is not necessarily information you will need to be concerned with.

You should get an MSDS sheet for every chemical product you buy. These sheets are available from the manufacturer. If you buy your supplies from a janitorial supplies distributor, they will either have the MSDS or be able to get it for you from the manufacturer. If you buy supplies from a big box store or over the Internet, the supplier might not have the MSDS for the product. In this case, you will have to get it from the manufacturer or you may be able to search for it on the Internet. Make sure that you always have the most up-to-date MSDS for the product.

Once you have the MSDS, read it carefully before using the product for the first time. To protect your employees and your cleaning company, what information should you look for on the cleaning product’s MSDS?

1. Look for the overall summary of the product and the emergency phone number. It is a good idea to highlight the product name and phone number in case you need to find it quickly.


2. Pay attention to the chemical composition of the product. The ingredients section will spell out information about the active and inert ingredients of the product.

3. What are the hazards of using this product? The hazard identification section will point out any potential harmful affects of the chemicals.

4. Read the first aid section carefully. It will point out the measures to take if someone becomes ill when using the product. It will also indicate the symptoms of exposure and what health conditions can be exacerbated when using the product.

5. Look at the firefighting section. Is this a chemical that has flammability concerns? This section will point out what media to use to extinguish a fire and any other specific fire safety considerations.