MSHA allows the use of electronic systems to distribute MSDSs to miners.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published the "Compliance Guide: Common Questions and Answers" for Hazard Communication (HazCom) in the Mining Industry, 30 CFR Part 47, in September 2002. The Guide made an extra effort to specifically allow Electronic MSDS Systems:
"... to clarify ... our intention to allow internet access or a commercial database as a way to comply with the requirement that you have an MSDS for each hazardous chemical ... You can keep MSDSs at an alternative location, if you ensure that they are readily available to miners in an emergency ... If you wish to comply by retrieving MSDSs electronically from an internet site or a commercial database of chemicals, you must still meet the requirement that MSDSs be readily available to miners."
In addition to allowing electronic MSDS systems, the guide provides direction on backup solutions in the event of a power outage. The guide makes it clear that there must be alternatives in the event of an emergency. The backup solution may be in the form of a battery-powered laptop computer, fax on demand service, phone system, or having paper copies on site.
While there are many similarities between OSHA's HazCom and MSHA's HazCom regulations, there is at least one stark difference. OSHA has a 30 year MSDS record retention policy from the date the material was no longer used. MSHA has a 3 month notification requirement to notify miners that the chemical is no longer used and that the MSDS will be discarded. In the MSHA HazCom rules, it is the responsibility of the miner to maintain a copy of the MSDS if the miner is concerned about the long term consequences of exposure to a hazardous material.
Another difference is that MSHA has created a generic MSDS that may be utilized in the mining industry. Instead of asking each entity to create a generic MSDS, MSHA has created a generic MSDS for limestone for use throughout the mining industry. The generic MSDS form is designed to be signed by an authorized representative of your company who is responsible for MSDSs. See the following example: Limestone MSDS
For more information on MSHA, visit: Mine Safety and Health Administration
For more information on Hazard Communication in the Mining Industry, visit: MSDSs and MSHA HazCom