ACMT Position Statement on Material Safety Data Sheets

Keith Burkhart, MD
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Hershey, PA

Int J Med Toxicol 1998; 1(4): 21

The American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) seeks to enhance the protection of workers from toxic hazards in the workplace. The College desires that its members have a greater role in the development and review of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). These sheets are often the first source of information used to identify a worker’s exposure. MSDSs also give first aid information that unfortunately may delay definitive treatment, but also may be harmful. Development or review of the MSDSs by medical toxicologists could dramatically improve the quality of these sheets.

The following Position Statement, approved by the ACMT Board at its September meeting, is therefore being forwarded to organizations involved in assuring worker safety such as OSHA, ATSDR, AAPCC, AACT, SOT, congressional legislative committees, Fortune 500 companies, and other trade organizations. The position statement is attached below for your review. Comments, suggestions of specific MSDSs that are in need of improvement, and the names of organizations that should receive a copy of the ACMT Position Statement would be appreciated.

Position Statement Concerning Material Safety Data Sheets

The American College of Medical Toxicology supports the intent of the Federal Regulations which provides for Material Safety Data Sheets as part of the communications to improve safety in the workplace.

It is the position of ACMT that the format of the MSDS should not be expanded to serve as a mechanism to communicate to practitioners of medicine advice on treatment of the health effects of chemical exposure other than first aid measures. As an alternative the MSDS should include a referral mechanism through which advice on treatment is available from an organization under the supervision of a physician with Board certification in medical toxicology or a physician with Board certification in occupational medicine with recognized expertise in medical toxicology.

First aid recommendations should be intended for first responders and include specific treatment only when there is an antidote generally accepted as effective, and early administration could substantially enhance outcome. The first aid section should be developed under the supervision of a physician as described above and be subject to peer review.

The individual or organization responsible for the content should be identified and the source of listed health hazards should be cited.

Editor’s Note: ACMTnet now serves as the mechanism for discussion or comments regarding materials published in IJMT. Please post any comments about this position statement on ACMTnet by sending them to ACMT.MGR@Banyan.UMMED.EDU. Readers who do not subscribe to ACMTnet may send comments to the ACMT office at

Int J Med Toxicol 1998; 1(4): 21

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