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As of June 1, 2015, every hazardous chemical shipment in the US is mandated to come with or be preceded by a safety data sheet (SDS) as required by the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals). SDS sheets disclose the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) of the chemicals and advise how to work safely with the chemical product.
Despite the fact that these regulations have been in place for several years, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that hazard communication (HazCom) violations rank among the top violations they cite since the adoption of the GHS. To help your operations stay in compliance, we’ve compiled 4 tips for improving your chemical SDS management.
1. Appoint a Management Person
There’s much more to proper SDS management than simply sticking the SDS sheets in a binder. Someone must actually review them. While OSHA will not find you liable for any inaccuracies or missing information from your SDS, they do expect that you accepted the sheets from the manufacturer or importer “in good faith.” This means that you received the material without any blank spaces or inaccurate information. To ensure SDSs are complete and accurate, someone from your team must review them.
If you request an SDS or a corrected SDS from the chemical manufacturer or importer and do not receive it, make sure that you contact your local OSHA area office for help. OSHA highly recommends that you document all requests or corrections. If an OSHA inspector goes through your documents while you’re waiting for the form or corrected form, you will need to provide proof of your request or you will be found not in compliance.
2. Keep them Up to Date
One of your SDS manager’s key roles will be to ensure that all of your SDS data is up to date with current inventory. Your SDS sheets must correspond with the exact chemical and supplier that is in your inventory. If you change manufacturers or the formulation of the chemical is changed, the SDS material must also change.
If you have any chemicals in your inventory that were purchased before June 1, 2015, they may have come with the old format MSDS (Material Safety and Data Sheets). It is ok to have both on hand, but the sheets must be updated to meet current standards before you receive a new shipment of the product.
To make sure that the most accurate SDS information is easily accessible, the newest sheets should be kept separate from outdated information. However, it is vital that you do not throw away outdated SDS information. OSHA requires that all safety data sheets be kept in an archive for at least 30 years beyond the end-use date.
3. Have a Backup
There are pros and cons to maintaining a digital collection of SDS materials. Electronic solutions can help to reduce the time that employees would spend searching for the information that they require. However, maintaining SDS information digitally does not alleviate the need for accurate, up to date printed material. OSHA regulations require that employees have immediate access with no barriers to SDS documents at all times. That’s why employers need to have a backup hard copy available for emergency situations such as power failures.
4. Make Sure Employees are Trained
Regardless of whether your SDS documents are digital or in hard copy format, your employees need to be fully trained on where and how to access the documents. SDS information is designed to be incorporated not only when a hazardous chemical is used, but also in the event of an accident.
With proper training, SDS data can be a key component of overall hazardous material and employee safety. Employees who have a working knowledge of SDS information are able to make better choices when it comes to the use of personal protection equipment (PPE), correct chemical handling, and proper disposal or storage.
If you’re looking for up-to-date information for raw materials and specialty chemicals, HM Royal has accurate technical sheets available to download. Browse the website or contact us for more info.