Canadian Occupational Health & Safety News discusses a recent ruling about the need to make paper copies of MSDSs available to workers in Ontario:

An Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) panel has suspended an inspector’s order that a company ensure “readily accessible” hard copies of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) be available to employees until the board rules on the company’s practice of using a CD-ROM to store and retrieve MSDS. On the evidence, board arbitrator Susan Serena said it appeared likely that the order under appeal would be successfully appealed.

Douglas West, a Ministry of Labour (MoL) inspector, visited Bolton-based United Lumber & Building Supplies Co. Ltd on April 24. He tried unsuccessfully to retrieve an MSDS from a computer’s CD-ROM.

A worker member of the joint health and safety committee, Sandy Williams, told the arbitration panel that the inspector was dissatisfied when the MSDS appeared on the computer “sideways” and a copy could not be immediately printed because the printer was being used to print another large document, according to the May 31 panel decision. West issued an order requiring that a “hard copy” of every MSDS be readily accessible.

United Lumber & Building Supplies Co. argued it is required to maintain over 8,000 MSDSs that have to be regularly updated as new products become available. It said worker safety is assured because all the data sheets are readily available to workers on CD-ROM and they all received training on accessing the MSDSs. The order, the firm argued, would require it to print out each MSDS and repeatedly update its binder of MSDSs. The company also said the inspector misquoted the relevant section of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (38[5]) when he used the term “hard” copy when referring to the requirement that “copies” of MSDS be readily accessible.

To see the full article, check out: Board quashes order for MSDS ‘hard copies’.