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By Tony Diamantidis, Sr. Director, Chemical Safety Software

Effectively managing chemical inventories can prevent many of the headaches that plague health, safety and environmental professionals who oversee HSE (EHS) management systems. Examples include, but not limited to:

• Non labeled containers on site
• Inadequate storage and ventilation for hazardous chemicals
• Storage of incompatible chemicals
• Excessive hazardous chemical inventory

By managing chemical inventories with EHS software, managers can avoid many of these problems. In addition, leaders can showcase their responsible, sound safety business practices to their workers, customers, visitors, the community, and regulatory inspectors.

Today’s EHS technology advancements provide secure, cloud-based software enabling users to create site specific risk assessments, internal audits, and inspection checklists with customized options. EHS Technology also enables companies to go mobile with their chemical management systems. Bar code scanning through the camera of an iPhone or Android tracks chemical containers throughout the facility or lab, and provides real-time inventory information to employees, leadership teams, contractors, and first responders.

In today’s data-driven landscape, EHS systems provide access to information that enables users to complete complex regulatory reporting and cross-referencing tasks. EHS solutions are backed by consistent, new and updated safety data sheets, GHS labels and compatibility checks. EHS software can also help automate updates to SDS active and inactive (archived) libraries. With these systems in place, incoming safety data reports, in the new GHS format, are easily flagged and filtered.

The best EHS solutions reduce the amount of time spent maintaining chemical inventories and SDS. EHS software system also make it easier for employees, contractors, and visitors to access critical health and safety information from any Wi-Fi enabled device via an EHS App or HSE software.

EHS mobile apps for Android and iOS includes:

EMS.Audit (iOS)
EMS Audit connects to your EMS installation and allows you to perform audits based on user-defined checklists, and uploading findings to your EHS database to implement corrective actions.

EMS.Inventory (iOS and Android) is a chemical inventory management system enabling you to manage the storage, movement and use of chemicals at the container level. Using the mobile device’s camera for bar code scanning EHS professionals can view, manage and monitor chemicals as they are used and transferred to different areas of a facility.

EMS.Waste (iOS and Android) is an effective tool for collecting, transferring consolidating and disposing of hazardous materials and waste by using the bar code scanning feature. Containers can be identified remotely and handled safely. EMS waste provides hazardous waste management tools that verifies regulatory requirements are being met.

EMS GHS/(M)SDS (iOS and Android) is an MSDS and GHS application that provides safety information anytime anywhere. These provide multi-lingual tools that enable wireless access to both the material safety, and the chemical hazard information database for quick retrieval of critical data.

When developing site specific EMS audit and inspection processes on your EHS app, below are a few examples of what to include during the inspection process:

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS:
1. Are chemical(s) stored with in recommended shelf life?
a. If not, manage appropriately or arrange for disposal.
2. Are incompatible chemicals and/or hazardous waste stored separately?
3. Are stock solutions and/or hazardous wastes properly labeled?
a. Note, complete chemical names are required under OSHA and EPA regulations.
4. Are label(s) on chemical containers readable and secure?
a. If not, replace the label on each container.
5. Are oxygen and acetylene cylinders stored separately?
6. Are there signs of leakage on the ground or bulging of the container?
7. Is the chemical listed on the inventory list?
8. Are chemicals stored away from open flames and heat sources?
9. Is a spill containment kit is readily accessible and easy to open, and containment procedures clearly posted?
10. Is the storage area well ventilated?
11. Is the storage area is kept clean and orderly?

HAZARDOUS WASTE:
1. Is hazardous waste routinely disposed?
2. Are containers compatible with the waste being accumulated? If not, replace containers with those that are appropriate with the waste being accumulated.
3. Are caps or bungs kept secure on containers when in storage? Make sure all containers are kept covered except when filling or emptying containers.
4. Is hazardous waste properly labeled and identified?
5. Does all hazardous waste must have the following?
• Date when filled
• Full name of chemicals being accumulated along with their hazard(s)
• The words “hazardous waste” on the label
6. Is hazardous waste stored in a designated area?
7. Is secondary containment used in laboratories with floor drains or other areas with potential release to the sewer system? You may choose to use secondary containment such as plastic tubs or store in flammable storage cabinets.
8. Is the storage area is kept clean and orderly?
9. Is a spill containment kit is readily accessible and easy to open, and are containment procedures are posted?

BENEFITS OF EMBRACING AN ELECTRONIC CHECKLIST FOR MANAGING CHEMICAL STORAGE AND DISPOSAL
Electronic management capability enables you to do the following:
• Reduce time and cost of meeting regulatory compliance. For example, environmental reporting to produce Tier II and Form R/SARA TRI reports will have pre-populated chemicals according to designated area.
• Improve purchasing efficiency.
• Have a centralize location of chemical inventory information. Redundant chemicals that are used across the facility require only one SDS that can be shared in the system.
• Cross-reference chemical inventories with GHS information; physical and health hazards through SDS management software.
• Improve transparency for on-site inventory and location specific information.
• Reconcile materials to the corresponding SDS in real-time.
The bottom line is today’s technology strengthens management of chemical inventory, SDS’s, and waste disposal. Complex operational processes, and diverse use of chemicals in the workplace increases the importance of streamlined regulatory compliance verification, and use of critical data to enhance personal safety.