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The Backstory

sds record retention

One of the most common misconceptions about Safety Data Sheets (SDS) is that they must be retained for 30 years. While retaining these documents is certainly a recommended best practice, it is not a regulatory requirement per se. In fact, the regulatory requirement outlined in 29 CFR 1910.1020(d)(1)(ii) is that employee exposure records must be maintained for 30 years.


A common means of documenting employee exposure to a given chemical substance or agent is to first maintain a list of substances and mixtures in use each year, along with the corresponding SDS file; this satisfies the requirement under 29 CFR 1910.1020(d)(1)(ii)(B) to maintain the identity of the substance or agent. Next, employers must also document where and when the substance or agent was used—merely maintaining a list of SDSs does not satisfy this requirement. This information can then be cross-referenced against a list of employees on staff each year, effectively documenting the employee exposure records. Similar compliance instructions are described in several OSHA Letters of Interpretation as well.

Whether you need assistance with creating your SDSs, or with their subsequent file storage and management, it is important that the information you are getting is accurate. True experts are always ready and willing to provide you with citations to the pertinent regulations. Is your compliance partner one you can rely on?