During the 1970s, when a series of employee-exposure lawsuits and chemical-spill accidents made front-page headlines across the country, safety experts convinced Congress that businesses were lax in monitoring hazardous materials on their work sites. Congress, in response to organized labor's lobbying, developed a set of reporting requirements for hazardous chemicals for practically all employers and product distributors. As a result, current state and federal regulations require producers to maintain an accurate inventory of onsite hazardous chemicals, a method for employees and customers to easily access material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and up-to-date regulatory information. Computers can help organize MSDSs. Producers should consider purchasing specialized computer software programs that enable them to organize their MSDS files and manage their administrative efforts.Current software packages feature:

  • Reduced data entry
  • Improved indexing
  • Active inventorying
  • Request fulfillment

Some software programs also include a standard MSDS-request letter or a label-making feature.Single-user versions of these programs cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, depending on the features the users add.