Chemical hazards and methods to relate these hazards to workers, managers, and designers have puzzled safety scientists for decades. In 1984, a major catastrophic event in Bhopal, India, caused a strong push for what is now known as the "Right-to-know" move. In that incident, a Union Carbide unit was a source for a significant release of a Methyl-Iso-Cyanate (MIC) cloud that resulted in around 3,000 fatalities, and over 80,000 mild to severe reactions due to the exposure. As a result, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) introduced the Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) as an emergency standard. Under that, then, new standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) OSHA mandated that all users of chemicals should maintain what is now called the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). MSDSs gave workers and safety managers' valuable information to deal with chemicals. Hence, MSDS became a valuable tool to a variety of personnel.
Like chemicals, man-machine interaction tools have become complex due to technological advances. Even with training aimed at satisfying compliance requirements, this complexity has increased the level of risk to which workers are being exposed. As a result, identification and assessment of associated hazards has also been increasing in complexity. In an attempt to manage these safety concerns, information sheets simulating MSDS were first introduced. These are called Technology Safety Data Sheets (TSDS). Their aim is to capture and relate a concise abstract of technical information and provides it in a user-friendly format to workers, technology, equipment, or processes designers, as well as safety manager.
If mandated, TSDS development can be taught at engineering schools to familiarize and educate non-safety professionals on safety issues at an early stage of their careers. These non-safety majors typically graduate without any knowledge or formal training in safety and health issues. If rained on the development of TSDS, these new engineers can set the stage for the understanding of safety and health concerns as they take on bigger and more important responsibilities.
The manner by which we view technologies have changed dramatically in the past centuries. From the invention of the wheel to airplanes and space flights, engineers have been a crucial and integral part of these technologies. These inventions, while advanced the human race, it came at a price that has been paid in blood.
Speed of travel have changed from mere walking to horse pulled carts then to cars, and finally to the space shuttle that can travel at a speed of up to 17,500 miles per hour (NASA Archive, 2004). Weight limits of transportation have changed from a fraction of a ton pulled by a horse to thousands of tons being flown over large bodies of water. Transfer of information increased from a few words sent by pigeons to extended messages sent in an instant across email. Most of our day-to-day activities have now become more and more automated. People can now live 50 miles away from work and still make it on time every morning.