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Safety Managers Turning to Web-based MSDSs

Safety professionals increasingly are turning to Web-based material safety data sheets to provide them with easy access to hazmat safety information.

Safety professionals increasingly are turning to Web-based material safety data sheets (MSDSs) to provide them with easy access to hazmat safety information, according to a new study by Donley Technology, Colonial Beach, Va. The study found a 77 percent increase in the past two years of the number of MSDS software systems that employ Web technologies. Two-thirds of the programs can run on the Internet and 44 percent of the developers offer MSDS software as a Web-based service or ASP (application service provider).

"The need for easily accessible and up-to-date safety information on hazardous materials is more important than ever, especially with heightened concerns over the potential for terrorist attacks with chemical weapons," says Elizabeth Donley, industry analyst and president of Donley Technology. Donley Technology has been analyzing and reporting on the environmental, health and safety software industry and market since 1988.

"In the past, most companies relied on file cabinets stuffed with paper MSDSs. But as more chemical suppliers offer electronic alternatives, interest in online retrieval is growing rapidly," she adds. "In fact, 60 percent of the MSDS software developers now offer a Web-based alternative. And we expect the growth in electronic distribution of MSDSs to continue, particularly in light of public fears over the safety of the U.S. mail."

The trend toward electronic MSDSs is also changing the way companies are gathering and storing chemical safety information, Donley reports. For example, 79 percent of the MSDS software products now support scanning of paper MSDSs to enter the data into the system. And 64 percent can now retrieve MSDSs via the Internet in a variety of formats.

The results of the Donley Technology study are available in the fifth edition of the MSDS Software Report. This 690-page electronic report presents detailed profiles of the 70 systems for MSDS authoring, management, and distribution and includes 48 comparison tables to help safety professionals select the best system for their needs. It offers comparisons of such features as data entry options, MSDS formats, search and retrieval options, chemical inventory tracking, regulatory compliance support and reporting options.

For more information about the Software Report, call Donley Technology at (804) 224-9427 or (800) 201-1595. For more information, or to order on the Web, check

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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