Date:Fri, 5 Jan 2001 11:47:22 -0600
Printechers: As promised here's is a compilation of the responses I got on the MSDS management question that were NOT posted to the listserve: Thanks to all who responded, and there is also an article in P2 review that you all might want to read on hazardous material management systems by Thomas Barron (in the Autumn 1998 issue of P2 Review at Page 57.) : First response: We have written a FoxPro based program in-house that allows us to not only keep track of all our MSDS information, but also calculates our VOC and Toxic emissions based upon our annual purchases. Although it was rather time-consuming to write the program, it has made the record keeping for our air permit requirements very easy. If your client has a good IS person, I would recommend going with an in-house program; that way they are in control of the information, and can generate reports in any manner and at any time that they wish. 2) A couple of things to consider when evaluating. 1. Start with cost. That can eliminate 50% of the options. 2. On-line or in-house. On-line does not allow you not to keep in-house copies (at least one) in case of power and phone failures. 3. On-line means Internet 24-hours per day. I've had people miss that point. 4. Decide everything you want the system to do up front. Many times I find people compare apples and oranges in these systems, go for the low price and then realize they needed two additional modules (the vendors are smart). 5. Off the shelf or customized. Makes a big difference. Look at things like what regs (including vendor requirements) need tracking and how many digits their part numbers are (I had one that was 29). I'm evaluating systems now for a client that needs extra user defined fields for tracking European and vendor regs. The two I am looking at are MSDS Pro and Imagewave's system. Third response: I have used and been experienced with this type of system. Both On-line and PC based. There are some advantages with these but there seems to be just as many disadvantages. The initial advantage is the reduced paper chase and opportunity for a digital format for MSDS's. The initial disadvantage is the accuracy of the MSDS's and the condition of the digital file. Often I have found that the digital files are simply pdf's and are scanned from a bad copy to begin with. Some MSDS's on CD's were found to be out-dated and therefore a potential violation for the employer. Another concern is that there still needs to be contingency plans for record keeping according to OSHA. This means a hard copy is still needed. In case of a power shut down or on-line delays, the employee must still have access to the MSDS's. The cost of these programs seems to be at the same level they were years back, but the management of them is getting better.