Is an Electronic SDS Database OSHA Compliant?

This is a question that is often posed by companies that want to move away from SDS binders with paper-based Safety Data Sheets (SDS) that are hard to find, store, manage and update. The short answer to the question is yes; however, there are conditions that must be met.

The first and most important requirement from OSHA for workplace SDS compliance is that your electronic SDS availability and accessibility is included in your organization’s Hazard Communication Plan. An OSHA defined Hazard Communication plan is a written document that an entity prepares and uses regularly to:

  1. Identify Hazardous Chemicals in the workplace
  2. Identify chemical containers, container locations and quantities-on-hand of hazardous chemicals at the site
  3. Keeping up-to-date Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all chemicals in the workplace
  4. Training employees about chemical hazards as well as how to find and access SDS
  5. Informing employees who are involved in special (non-routine) tasks that may involve hazardous chemicals of the hazards associated with them
  6. Informing contractors, visitors, and others of the presence of hazardous materials

The second requirement for site SDS compliance is that employees can access hard copies of SDS if requested. This does not mean that you’re required to have a printed SDS binder. Rather, it means that you or your employees have the ability to find and print an SDS.

The third criterion for OSHA SDS compliance is the existence of a backup system in case of emergency. OSHA defines emergencies specifically and they involve inspection procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard.

The fact is that an electronic SDS database makes it easier for your company to comply with OSHA’s directives. It allows you to easily search for a safety data sheet that is indexed in a variety of ways (Product name, manufacturer, CAS Number, Part Number, wildcard searches, etc.). SDS’s can also be linked directly to your chemical inventory database, so a person that needs hazard, proper handling, and emergency response information can easily find it and print an SDS if desired.

Maintaining an SDS database on the Internet Cloud ensures availability online and through mobile devices, since many SDS software management programs, including Chemical Safety’s EHS software, offer SDS mobile apps that can find SDSs anywhere and at any time through the mobile data plan, even when power or computer systems are unavailable.

Paper SDS binders have become a rarity in many organizations these days and OSHA has come to both accept and encourage the use of electronic SDS databases, which have regularly been proven to be more accessible and functional.

For more information on Chemical Safety’s online and mobile SDS accessibility tools and how to comply with the OSHA Communication Standard through Chemical Safety’s suite of chemical management software, please visit www.chemicalsafety.com