Things Not Allowed in Classroom without a “Safety Data Sheet”: Dish Soap, Baby Wipes…

Readers – We all want some sensible safety precautions taken in schools, but as far as I can tell they were all in place about 50 years ago and don’t really need to get more persnickety. But just as something there is that loves a wall, something there is that loves another layer of excess precaution, bureaucracy and catastrophizing Hence, this note from a kindergarten teacher in Wisconsin:

Dear Free-Range Kids: This school year, we had lots of warnings from our administration and our custodial staff that we needed to be in compliance with this: We are not allowed to have anything remotely “chemical” in the classroom (including hand soap that wasn’t provided by the school and my own dish soap) without a Material Safety Data Sheet on hand, and another copy of the MSDS with the custodial staff. Kindergarten uses lots of baby wipes for wiping messes & sticky fingers, and they had to get an MSDS for every different brand of wipes that parents had sent in. Mind you, these wipes are safe enough to be used on BABIES, but apparently when you turn five, you suddenly have an urge to snack on them…?

We’re also having a crackdown on our fire safety precautions. We recently had to remove everything hanging from the ceilings. I know we’re lucky here because they haven’t limited us to covering only 20 % of the walls with posters –YET– as they have in some school districts in the area. In elementary school, there are so many charts we use as reference on a daily basis. They would prefer that we have these on easels or chart stands rather than hanging on the walls or from the ceiling. I can just imagine that if there is a fire, the children will all be tripping over all the chart stands, trying to get out. And really, is that piece of fishing line hanging from my ceiling going to be the make-it-or-break-it factor as to whether the whole school burns down?

(And here, let me confess that I teach 6- and 7-year-olds. This year I had to take home my own bottle of dish soap that I’d stored (hidden in a cabinet that kids never go in) for when I eat lunch in my classroom. I insisted to the administration that I don’t use it on anything that the kids touch or put into their mouths, just on my own dishes, and it’s DISH SOAP, so it should be relatively safe, right?  But — you guessed it — “kids might find it and drink it”!  Now I carry dirty dishes home from school. Ridiculous.)

Thanks for bringing some of these crazy things to the public eye. – A Bristling Teacher

Lenore here: Bristle away! Meantime,Ben Miller, a policy analyst at my partner in sanity, Common Good, notes:

So many well-intentioned regulations wind up working against their own purpose. Materials Safety Data Sheets are supposed to give workers a good idea of the risks associated with the chemicals they use. But when these sheets grow too bulky — and start obsessing over things like hand soap — no one has the time to read them. Teachers need simple guidance about materials that pose real dangers, not voluminous appendices of every possible danger. Common Good has some ideas for fixing the system.

Thank goodness! – L. 


Keep away from children and dishes?

64 Responses to Things Not Allowed in Classroom without a “Safety Data Sheet”: Dish Soap, Baby Wipes…

  1. Emily Volz March 21, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    I don’t even have any words.

  2. Sarah in WA March 21, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    My kids’ preschool was recently admonished by the fire chief regarding the 20% of the walls being covered thing. We complied, at least until the next inspection, but during that time the school went from fun to rather dull and boring. Who, much less children, would prefer to sit in a blank room vs. a bright and cheery one? I felt like the soul of our school was being sucked out as we took all of the fun things down.

    And was it really posing a danger? That’s what we kept asking. This teacher raises a really good point that chart stands are just going to impede a quick exit in case of an actual fire. I completely understand her frustration. Meanwhile, I’m sure she would love to not even have to think about these things and maybe actually TEACH.

  3. Kimberly March 21, 2013 at 12:35 am #

    20% of the walls being covered? Our elementary schools have been around for decades with no fires, as have a large majority of other elementary schools in the U.S. Why the hysteria over how much stuff there is on the walls NOW? It must be because all past fire chiefs were ignorant, but the new ones are brilliant. I’ll bet that’s it.

  4. Kate March 21, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    MSDS include information about the contents of products but also about what to do if someone does get too much in an eye or swallows some. OSHA requires that they be available to employees in workplaces, and the classroom is a workplace for the teachers and support staff.
    Since I got used to checking them when I did maintenance and landscaping work in a county park, I’ve sometimes wished I could look at the MSDS when trying to choose between brands of household chemicals in the grocery store.
    Though I recognize that compliance will be time consuming, especially initially gathering all the MSDS, this makes sense to me.

  5. catspaw73 March 21, 2013 at 1:22 am #

    Meh, gather them, file them, then ignore them as little Timmy will know be safe :-)
    On one hand I can see why they are needed for some things, but common sense also has to adhered to, mind you I used to work in a lab where all chemicals had to have MSDS, fair enough some of them were very nasty, but sugar, glucose and salt????

  6. Rick March 21, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    Ha! I really resonate with this. As an after-school site director, our MSDS BINDER is stuffed full. And (should I admit it in public?) incomplete. We purchase items from our local box and grocery stores all the time for cleaning… and we’re shopping on price with our budget- not a lot of brand loyalty. We scan the net for applicable MSDS sheets when we can, but, really, what a waste of manpower and time. We’re supposed to be looking after the kids… not having a staff member off the floor looking up an MSDS for the new “Magic Eraser” sponges and disinfectant wipes we just purchased that morning! I’m telling you it IS frustrating!


  7. Jennifer March 21, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    Okay. Drinking dish soap is unpleasant, but it is not likely to result in anything particularly dangerous happening to a child. (I apparently fed my little sister a bar in a hotel bathroom once). But it tastes disgusting. So if a kid drinks the dish soap, they’re going to learn that it’s a bad idea to drink random liquids.

    The problem with excessive warnings is that after a while, you either don’t pay attention to any of them, or you can no longer tell the difference between a genuine warning for a dangerous substance, and a warning that’s solely there to fulfill regulations. And that can get dangerous.

  8. Ben March 21, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    @Kate: I’ve made MSDS sheets in my work and my first thought was, why can’t schools just be required to have proper labels on their products? Any info about what to do in an emergency should be on the label as well anyway.

  9. Kathleen Curry March 21, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    I agree with Free Range Kids every day on everything. But, I would like to point out that the items hanging from the ceiling/wall rule is PROBABLY because of fire sprinkler usage. Items cannot block the sprinklers. I know because I am an architect, and deal with designing permanent equipment up-to a certain height against walls in certain types of buildings. I am guessing here. And someone should ask the question WHY? Therefore, the rules that actually makes sense can be adhered to, especially when life safety is involved. True life safety, and not the strange possibility of a child drinking dish soap.

    Carry on……

  10. Linda Wightman March 21, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    I agree with Jennifer on excessive warnings. When the safety instructions that come with my new (upholstered, electric) recliner chair warn me not to use it in the swimming pool, and when my bathroom scale cautions me not to put it in the clothes dryer!, why should I believe (or bother to read) anything they say?

  11. Mel March 21, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    If they brought back the Mr. Yuck stickers, it would solve a lot of headache. I went looking for them my daughter was at the stage of exploring the cabinets and found they stopped that program! So i taught her cleaning products are not for consumption.. and guess what, she never drank them. BRING BACK MR YUCK!!

  12. Andy March 21, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    The sad part is that even some chemist can’t understand a MSDS sheet. I can understand having them if you work with battery acid, but if hand wipes and dish soap is so dangerous that it requires an MSDS sheet, you really wouldn’t want them around a 5 year old anyway.
    And they wonder why Chinese schools are pulling so far ahead of American schools, the don’t worry about this crap.

  13. katie March 21, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Oh, don’t tell the schools this, but I used to help keep track of the MSDS for a lab, and we had to keep on hand the MSDS for water (if it gets in your eyes, wash it out with copious water, BTW), and sand, and etc.

    We mocked it, a lot, but I’m pretty sure OSHA required it…

  14. katrin March 21, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Don’t forget the most dangerous chemical of all: DiHydrousOxide, I am sure this deadly substance is found in all schools. Here is the MSDS sheet:

    There are many dangers:including:
    Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
    Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
    Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
    Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.

  15. Emily March 21, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Okay, the MSDS sheets for dish soap, hand soap, and baby wipes are crazy. If there’s a child in the class with allergies to any of these things, then the parents would have likely notified the school, and provided alternative hand soap, etc., for that child. As for the rule about “only 20% of the walls being covered” (which, fortunately, hasn’t happened yet), where do you draw the line? Suppose there are 30 kids in the class, and they’re all assigned to, say, draw a picture of their favourite animal from last week’s field trip to the zoo. All 30 kids draw pictures, the teacher puts the first 29 of them up on the wall, but then can’t put up little Jimmy’s picture, because that’d put her over the “wall-covering quota” for “safety.” Would the teacher then put it up anyway, and risk getting in trouble, or exclude it, and risk hurting Jimmy’s feelings?

  16. Dirge March 21, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    But when everything is risk free and we will live forever, we will all be happy, right?

  17. John March 21, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Having worked with chemicals ranging from caustic acids to gatorade, I can tell you that MSDS sheets in a business setting are completely normal. They not only have a list of ingredients but also contain a wealth of information about how to clean up the product if spilled and how to handle contact with eyes or ingestion.

    It’s easy to locate an MSDS for any product online and when one of those little turds decides that the delicious smelling orange gel needs to be taste tested, you have an instant resource for determining if you can just toss some milk into the kid or if you need to do something more drastic like squeezing the kid over the toilet to wring them out.

    As for MSDS on baby wipes… I’ve seen them for Gatorade. Sometimes OSHA goes a bit far some of the time… or make that.. most of the time. They need to justify their growth just like any other organization. Am I right?

  18. Joanne March 21, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Mel, You could always do what my dad did. He drew Mr. Yuck on the bottles with a big black marker and then left them under the not childproofed sink. (Of course my parents’ parenting philosophy was “If you’re gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough.”

  19. vjhreeves March 21, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    If I sent my kids to public school I would be in a constant state of rage.

  20. Kate March 21, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    As a safety professional, I’m here to tell you that you may not need an MSDS for hand soap or wipes. OSHA has an exception for consumer items such as those – if they are being used in the same manner/frequency as you use them at home then they do not require an MSDS. Many company safety managers require an MSDS for all chemical containing products – some to save time, some to avoid constant reviews and questions of many different items (most safety functions are severely understaffed), and some because they don’t fully understand the exceptions.

    As for prohibiting staff from bringing chemical products in from home – yup, it’s a liability thing – risk and compliance. I’ve seen enough crazy things brought in from home that could have caused major illness so I fully agree with this – and to be fair it has to be an all or none policy.

    Likely your safety office does not have enough staff to manage this in any other way and stay compliant with Federal or State laws.

  21. Yan Seiner March 21, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Well, then again…. That hand sanitizer is almost as good as napalm; under the right circumstances it will burn, and since it’s made to spread on skin it causes severe burns. That’s good to know, so MSDS sheets actually make sense – if people read them.

    I agree that it may seem a bit overboard at times, but they are there for a reason. My problem is that they are usually stuck in a binder in the office, so that if someone actually does get that glop in their eye, you don’t have the time to fetch the sheet and read it, so the whole thing is another bit of security theatre. Lots of pomp but little usefulness.

  22. Adrienne March 21, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    This is a bit off of the subject, but in my hometown, Boy Scouts are looking for ammo donations for summer camp. Here’s the article if you’re interested:

  23. Emily March 21, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Really? MSDS for Gatorade? I think it’s a bit over-the-top to put a legitimate food or beverage product in the same category as toxic chemicals. When I was about three, I remember my mother telling me, very clearly, that antifreeze/Windex/Mr. Clean/whatever may be pretty-coloured liquids, but they were poisonous, and that I must never drink them. I understood perfectly. Then, when I was maybe eleven or so, I saw blue Gatorade for the first time, and it looked EXACTLY like antifreeze……but, rather than being on a high shelf in the garage, with a “skull-and-crossbones” sticker on it (which, by the way, is much scarier than “Mr. Yuck”), I saw it in the fridge at the variety mart, clearly labelled as a beverage, so I bought some, and drank it. So, if both antifreeze and Gatorade both required MSDS documentation, then I can easily see some little kid getting the two identical blue fluids confused with one another, or applying “kid logic,” and taking a swig of antifreeze, because after all, “Gatorade is on the MSDS, and it’s safe to drink.” So, to summarize, too much safety can be dangerous.

  24. Sarah in WA March 21, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    @Emily (regarding paper on 20% of the walls), it’s likely that student art would not be displayed on the walls at all if this rule were to actually be enforced. Teachers would need to use the 20% to put up teaching visual aids (like the alphabet, etc.).

    That’s another thing I dislike about this rule: Students will no longer have their work displayed. How deflating is that?

    Someone also mentioned sprinklers. No, of course, sprinklers should not be covered or impeded. My children’s school doesn’t have a sprinkler system (we’re a co-op preschool renting space in church), but we’re still expected to follow this 20% rule.

  25. Emily March 21, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    @Sarah in WA–Would it be possible to get around the 20% rule by posting the students’ artwork in the hallways, or, failing that, scanning the art projects into the computer to post on the school website? I know that the latter solution isn’t the same as the artwork being physically displayed, but at least it’d be something.

  26. heidi March 21, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I’m a sharp, smart, witty, and fun math teacher. I taught for 4 years (1998-2002) and constantly had great reviews and happy students.

    Reasons the author of the letter states are why I will never teach again. I work in a completely unrelated field now and tutor math to homeschool students. Despite our religious differences (I’m an atheist, they’re generally all Christian, borderline fundamentalists), they let me teach how I want, with the tools I want, and encourage me to bring my 95# dog to lessons for the kids.

    I’m 1 of THOUSANDS of people I know who would make fabulous teachers, if not for the nightmare teaching has become.

  27. Sarah in WA March 21, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    @Emily, yes, those are possible options. The 20% rule applies to the hallways as well, so as long as other classes have enough room there to display, too, it could work. It might be kind of a headache to constantly be figuring out if they’ve reached 20% yet, and coordinate that with other classes, though. As if teachers don’t have enough to worry about already! :)

    Yes, they could utilize the classroom or school website, too. That might become the parent volunteer job of the future: Scan all the student work. No, it’s not the same, but at least it would be out there.

  28. AP March 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Amen to Mr. Yuck! I too had heard they were discontinued, but I managed to score a few at an immunization clinic earlier this week. Must have been leftovers?

    I remember helping my mom put them on all kinds of things when I was a kid – I even helped her think up what things should get them, based on what I already knew about what things were for (the gas can, antifreeze, rubbing alcohol, etc.)

    My mom started teaching in the 60s, but by the 80s the schools were bad enough that she decided to homeschool me, and also took a few other kids from families that wanted to homeschool but didn’t have a parent available. I hope to be able to do the same when my kids get that age.

    How crazy is it that I am going to keep my kids home where I can protect them… from being too SAFE at school!

  29. Jenny Islander March 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    What the heck is wrong with just putting a Mr. Yuck on packages kids shouldn’t touch and marking a furniture- free lane on the floor with tape? That’s what they did when I was little and my old elementary school is somehow still standing. If you don’t want tape, you can even install a different color of carpet on the part of the floor where you don’t want anything put.

  30. Jenny Islander March 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Wait, they discontinued Mr. Yuck? Which genius thought that one up?!

  31. Puzzled March 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    How are they defining chemical? Why don’t they require them for oxygen, water, skin,…?

  32. lollipoplover March 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    We did experiments with dish soap for the schoolwide science day and had to nix the one with the bubble straws and dish soap. Apparently they could drink the mixture instead of blowing bubbles ontothe class mural (tinted soaps).
    I’m pretty sure if your kid is drinking the soap instead of blowing bubbles at age 7 you have bigger problems than ODing on Dawn Ultra.

  33. Warren March 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    They do require it of oxygen, if it is in a container. Water? We had a shop dog where I used to work. The water from the tap wasn’t the best, so we bought jugs of no name water from No Frills. We had them stored in my office. The ministry on an inspection gave us a warning for not having MSDS of the jugs of water.

    How is your expertise in fire? All the schools in my area, and all the ones I have attended are constructed with cinder block, interior walls included. You could post artwork on 100% of the walls, and in the event of a fire, the paper would flash off, and leave a soot covered cinderblock wall.

    I am 45 yrs old, and cannot remember the last time I heard about a school fire. I would say they are about as common as a stranger abduction. But let’s take happy times, memories, pride, creativity and their childhood on the once in a blue moon, rare, lightening striking in the same place twice chance of a fire in the school.

  34. Havva March 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    I think the exceptions that Kate mentioned should be used. The level of effort involved in maintaining all these sheets for a rotating cast of ordinary products has got to exceed the effort involved in training the teachers to tell an inspector. “Yes the dish soap is used to wash dishes, the wipes are used to wipe the children off. They fall under the ordinary use exception.” Couple that with a reminder of when to do the MSDS procedure and have a head of MSDS.

    I get the feeling a lot of organizations go too far because they are afraid of the inspectors. But I don’t think they should be. We have some tricky employee knowledge based inspections at my workplace. The simple answer to things you don’t know (and the inspector asked me lots of things I didn’t know) was to admit your uncertainty and say you would check with the head of that function before proceeding with such a task. Which is exactly the truth, and proper.

    Anyhow… my mind is in problem solving mode so here goes…

    @ Sarah in WA. Are there any free standing book shelves in the middle of the room? My daughter’s daycare has a soft fuzzy material on the back boards of all the bookshelves. The teachers mount the artwork with velcro tape. It isn’t quite as obvious to the parents as some of the bulletin boards on the walls, but it is right at kid eye level and they know their work is there and show it off to mom and dad.

    As for the materials that have to be up all the time. In elementary school. I’ll take some inspiration from my childhood. We painted a lot of murals in 1-3rd grade… great experience. What if some volunteers painted some of these perennially needed materials right onto the wall. Alphabet, map, quadratic equation, time lines, whatever you want on the walls. Then it wouldn’t count against the 20%, and could run right up to, even onto the classroom door. Leaving as much of the 20% as possible free for the children’s own creations each year.

    As to computing the 20%, how about painting up some reasonably sized ‘frames’ of some sort (or bulletin boards if affordable). As long as it stays in the frame work you know you you are the proper number of feet from the exits and the ceiling, and under the 20%.

  35. VJ March 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    So posters on the wall are a fire hazard, but aren’t all the books in the room flammable? Shouldn’t we ban books, notebooks and other papers?

    Our classrooms each have a small American flag, about 12″ by 18″. There has to be a notice posted in each room certifing that the flag has been treated with fire retardent.

  36. Ben March 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    My mother is going to provide care for kids in our home and the list of safety precautions is just mindblowing, but the worst thing is that if she provides the care in the kids’ own home, that home has to have the same safety checks, even though they lived there for their entire life without incident. Even the thresholds need to be marked…

    @Kate: Yep, I had a customer call about an MSDS for water and I had trouble not laughing. Water is actually so safe that the semi-automated system made a mess of it.

  37. Karen March 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    I have to say I do agree with keeping MSDS sheets on hand for any chemicals used in any work place. It is unlikely that anyone will drink dish soap but IF a child or adult were to accidentally ingest it the data sheet tells you how to treat the patient. Even store bought items from your local grocery or box store should have accessible MSDS on line. Rather than make the teacher take the item home, the sheet could be easily obtained.

    Limiting items on walls and hanging from ceilings is just plain silly. Classrooms are full of combustible items. This is why children have annual fire drills. They should know how to get out quickly and safely if a fire were to occur.

  38. hineata March 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    @Linda – you’re not supposed to put bathroom scales in the dryer? Who knew…I wondered why mine came out looking so funny the last time I did it. And the dryer has never been the same since either, incidentally.

    Also, dammit, I was about to get a swimming pool installed, just precisely so I could run all my electrical appliances in it – why stop at the recliner? Then we ended up having this drought, so I’ve had to put my plans on hold….

  39. hineata March 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Back to the matter at hand, we had a fire ‘guy’ like that come to do our safety inspection. All our classrooms were ground floor – as is mostly the case in NZ – all opened directly to the outside as well as to a corridor, and all had ample windows to break out of in the extremely unlikely event that the door was unusable. He still complained about all the work hanging from the ceiling (fishing twine too).

    We solved the problem by simply removing it all before he came for the next inspection, and putting it all back up when he’d left. Which I’m fairly sure is what he knew would happen.

    Some ‘rules’ are absolutely made to be broken.

  40. Jim Collins March 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Well you could always hang the MSDS sheets on the walls.

  41. Katie March 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Interesting so dish soap is dangerous, but helicopter mom’s who drive around school parking lots going 40 mph and local 25 roads doing 50 to get there overscheduled kids to the first of many lessons of the day aren’t?

    I find it ridiculous that in society our biggest concerns after imaginary predators are dish soap and kids artwork being on the walls. Even with the crazy news that loves to tell crazy stories I can assure you I have never heard even a news story of any kid dying from drinking dish soap let alone known anyone in person who died from it. Given what is in food these days if your talking about a natural brand it is probably better for you than drinking something like diet coke or pepsi anyways. Then you get back into infantizing children who should be doing chores because you say oh my dish soap is dangerous and of course the kid doesn’t mind getting out of the chore. But really what is good for the kid is to do the chore.

    Same thing for kids dying in a school fire. Given the way school are today, even 50 years ago all the kids will be out long before the stuff on the wall burn.

  42. Chihiro March 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    They must remove everything remotely ‘chemical’…they do know that ‘chemical’ does not necessarily equal ‘toxic!’, right? A chemical is basically a substance with a constant chemical composition and cannot be separated without breaking chemical bonds. WATER is a chemical. They need to reword these rules before they ban sweet H2O.
    Also, I’m curious: what is the point of the 20% rule? The only reason I can think of is that the paper can be a fire hazard. Which makes no sense.
    Although…we have a teacher in out school who used to paper his room with TIME magazine covers. Literally, from floor to ceiling, all around the room. Every inch was covered. This year I had a class in that room and most of the covers were gone. I wonder if our school enacted to 20% rule…

  43. Katie March 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    @hineta Same thing happens at a place I work at very part-time to. Fire marshal comes everyone knows what to do. Yup, I agree stupid rules are made to be broken.

  44. Stephanie March 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Just thinking about the rules on how much stuff can be on the walls reminded me that my daughter’s preschool had to take most of the kids’ projects down the day before Halloween. Halloween was the day the classroom was to get its fire safety inspection. The teachers were really frustrated that they couldn’t have a fun looking classroom on Halloween.

  45. Warren March 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    MSDS were designed for hazardous materials, and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the definition of hazardous.

    We as a society have gone from securing against hazards, to now spending more time and money securing against stupidity.

    As my doctor and I laugh about, the strong and smart used to survive and rule, now the weak and stupid have taken over, and we have to take care of them.

  46. steve March 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm #


    1.) Fear of being out of compliance

    2.) Fear of losing job over non-compliance

    3.) Fear of being sued – for non-compliance

    4.) Forcing everyone into compliance

    5.) Checking and testing for compliance

    6.) Fear of new information that doesn’t comply

    7.) Fear of creative thinking that goes counter to compliance

    A valedictorian who learned this lesson well:

  47. CrazyCatLady March 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Well, I think that they should take the kid’s stuff off the walls and then let the kids paint directly ON the walls! How much fun would that be? Put on a nice coat the beginning of the year, then let the kids have fun with tempera through the year (I assume tempera is still allowed.) Occasionally they can roll it on and then start a new topic. Teacher can take photos every so often.

  48. Donald March 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    I’m usually the first to criticize how we bubble wrap kids. However I can’t in this case. I’m not in favor of MSDS for baby wipes either.

    Unfortunately, MSDS is HUGE! It’s a blanket policy that EVERYTHING liquid that has a chemical in it must have an MSDS whether it is hazardous or not.

    As with most all blanket regulations, common sense does not apply. However, it’s hard to make allowance for common sense because then it often becomes a loophole that is exploited. A hazardous chemical can be classed as non hazardous if you have enough lawyers and can buy enough politicians.

    I do think that it’s idiocy to protect school kids from the possibility of drinking Polmolive dish washing liquid. If a toddler has the urge to do so then they are better off doing it at school. I’d rather they learn that not all liquids are ok to drink at the school than by learning it at home by drinking bleach.

    @ steve. I like your list. However you forgot one.

    307.) (way way on the bottom of the list. It’s so far down the list that it’s almost non existent) The school will prepare children to face adulthood.

  49. pentamom March 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    “Well, I think that they should take the kid’s stuff off the walls and then let the kids paint directly ON the walls! How much fun would that be?”

    Speaking as the kid whose every art project came out hideous, nah. Wouldn’t want that stuff staring me in the face long-term.

  50. amy March 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Does this mean no more washing kids’ mouth out with soap?

  51. Donald March 21, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Toddlers (usually about 1-3 years of age) drink hazardous things like bleach or driveway cleaner. It’s very rare but unfortunately it does happen. When they reach preschool age, 99.9% of them have grown out of this urge. However if they haven’t, I’d rather they learn about drinking hand soap at school than drinking Draino at home.

    However, lets eliminate the possibility that they can drink hand soap at school.

    Who are we trying to protect? Jobs and insurance companies or the lives of children? I think that it’s clear what the school thinks the priority is.

  52. Papilio March 21, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    Perhaps they should just stop driving the teachers completely crazy, otherwise *they* will be the ones drinking chemicals…

  53. pentamom March 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Are the comments closed on the next post (“Sex offender registry”) or is it just me?

  54. pentamom March 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Oh, I see from the Twitter feed that it’s a glitch.

  55. SadButMadLad March 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    MSDS sheets are just another layer of bureaucracy which don’t actually help. They are an attempt to solve a non- existent problem.

  56. pentamom March 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    “MSDS sheets are just another layer of bureaucracy which don’t actually help. They are an attempt to solve a non- existent problem.”

    In this context, yes. However in general, they serve a very important function in an environment where a large variety of substances are in daily use and no one person can be expected or is always available to consult in case of accident or misuse. (This is not a great description of a kindergarten classroom, but probably should apply to the school kitchen and the janitor’s closet.)

    Having them still be on paper is an antiquated regulatory relic; the regulations should be updated to allow for electronic storage (provided it is a stable and always accessible medium — “somewhere on the Internet accessible through the teacher’s iPhone” probably doesn’t cut it.)

  57. Warren March 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    I would bet my next paycheck, that the MSDS, if it was currently complete, for a Kindergarten class, that if you were to post it on the walls, it would take up more than 20%.

    MSDS were not designed or intended for use in schools to protect students from dish soap, finger paints and sillyputty.
    The were designed, and implemented to protect workers from hazardous materials.

    They were a joke when they first came out, and their overuse has only made it worse.

    The only reason we consider them a joke, is because we knew what we were dealing with, how to deal with it, what measures to take to prevent incidents, what measures to take in case of incident, and if in doubt, CONSULT THE LABEL ON THE CONTAINER. The joke is that in the event of an emergency, you do not have the five, ten, fifteen minutes to find the book and rifle thru it to find the appropriate sheet, and then read thru the wording set for by engineers and lawyers.
    In the workplace there is the one rule, noone should ever break. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IT IS, DON’T TOUCH IT.

    Of all the places I have worked, and all the incidents I have witnessed, or been directly involved in, the MSDS has never once been used. Basic first aid, and 911 if needed.
    MSDS are wonderful for those in the offices to reference after the incident so they can understand what happened, but for the people actually working with the materials, they are a waste of time, and money.

  58. Earth.W March 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    I better not show this my children. They might throw up some arbitration about the dangers of washing the dishes.

  59. pentamom March 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    “MSDS were not designed or intended for use in schools to protect students from dish soap, finger paints and sillyputty.”

    Just to be clear, I completely agree. And I like your comment about them taking up more than 20% of wall space.

  60. peter baker March 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Here in the UK we call them COSHH data sheets.

    I gave up paying attention to them when I found a COSHH data sheet on water. Went into all sorts of dangers of being exposed to water (rash!), but the kicker was the treatment. Apparently the treatment for being exposed to water was to wash to copious quantities of….water.

    I wish it was a joke, but no. All true.

  61. Warren March 27, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I remember getting an MSDS for the protective gloves, that another MSDS told us we had to wear. Why, because of the corn startch inside them. LOL

  62. Deja March 31, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    You can still get a free sheet of Mr. Yuk stickers from the Pittsburgh area, no wonder they were so prevalent as a kid!

    I work in the shipping industry and we have MSDS for everything- from wax we use to anything that could possibly come out of a package. Although we have real risk- anything could be in a package. Dish soap, baby wipes, etc. aren’t a concern- they’re not even ORMD (other regulated material) such as nail polish and nail polish remover. OSHA regulations can get a bit constraining at times, particularly when children are involved.

  63. Software for Quibids April 10, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Terrific post. Thanks.


  1. Cleaning supplies in the classroom? Your papers, please - Overlawyered - April 3, 2013

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