Safety Data Sheets and Workplace Safety

Reading time: 3 minutes

Share this


Fast Access To Accurate SDS’s at the Office and On the Go Can Make All the Difference

More than 7 million facilities in the United States handle chemicals regularly and more than 100 million workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. In an effort to promote the safe handling of hazardous chemicals, OSHA and the EPA continue to issue recommendations that encourage employers to take greater control over the management of chemicals entering their facilities.

The cost of non-compliance goes beyond regulatory penalties. Non-compliance will almost certainly be more costly for businesses in the long run- leading to increased employee sick days, decreased productivity, workers’ comp claims, law suits, and even a negative company image.

In this article, we’ll look at one OSHA requirement in detail- making safety data sheets available to employees. More specifically, organizations that handle hazardous materials must make the safety data sheets issued by the chemical’s manufacturer readily available to employees. Clearly, this is a reasonable requirement. If employees are handling hazardous materials they should be aware of potentially harmful effects so they can take precautions to protect themselves.

The safety data sheet communicates hazards, precautionary measures, and treatment information (in the event of an accident). The idea is to provide chemical handlers with all of the information they need in one place. Since safety data sheets are standardized documents, the format is the same for all manufacturers. Once the employee is trained on how to use a safety data sheet, they can rely on it to gain the knowledge they need to properly handle all of the hazardous chemicals that they are working with.

While the safety data sheet provides an ideal format for communicating hazard data, companies are still left with the problem of disseminating the safety data sheets to their employees. For small companies, the solution may be as simple as maintaining a binder of relatively few safety data sheets that are easily made available to employees given the company’s small size. That said, adding SDS’s for new materials and updating revised SDS’s can sometimes be a challenge when using a binder-based SDS system. For instance, they don’t work well for larger organizations with bigger SDS libraries because they are inefficient, labor intensive, and difficult to maintain across multiple locations.

Electronic, or computer based SDS systems, have a clear advantage for medium and large companies since SDS’s can be centrally maintained and disseminated electronically to thousands of employees if necessary. Companies can assemble and maintain a library of current safety data sheets with relative ease.

Chemical Safety’s EH&S software features an online SDS database which provides access to many thousands of supplier-specific safety data sheets as well as GHS labels. Employers also have the ability to upload their own SDS’s and GHS labels making it possible to quickly build and organize a custom safety data sheet library which can be easily integrated into their overall hazard communication plan. Employees can access the SDS’s from an intuitive cloud based web application where they can either view or print the SDS from any internet browser.

But SDSs may be more important to access on the go, whether the production floor, the lab or in the field. Chemical Safety offers Android and iOS safety data sheet applications. These mobile applications are multi-lingual tools that provide wireless access to Chemical Safety’s SDS and chemical reference databases where critical data for safety and emergency response can be quickly retrieved.

See also