Maintaining a certain level of safety within your organization is critical. Not only would you put your employees at risk by failing to do so, but you could also encounter legal issues in the future.
For businesses that work with harmful chemicals, it’s imperative that you properly integrate a safety data sheet (SDS) in the appropriate locations. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about doing so.
1. Properly Train Your Employees
As you might assume, it can be difficult to implement the proper level of protection if you don’t sufficiently train your employees. This means that they should fully understand where to locate your safety data sheets and how to analyze the information they contain.
For instance, an untrained employee might not understand key info that an SDS details, something that could easily result in them putting themselves or others at risk. Additionally, holding only a single training session will be sufficient.
It’s highly recommended that you periodically retrain your employees throughout the year in order to ensure that they retain the proper level of knowledge. When hiring new employees, they should be trained as soon as possible.
The longer you wait, the greater the chance of complications arising. Depending on the severity of the situation, these could be potentially crippling for your business. The company might experience extensive downtime, and you may also have legal action taken against you by the affected parties.
2. Archive Outdated Data Sheets
As time goes on, new standards will be implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In context, this means that old safety data sheets may no longer contain the correct information.
This typically occurs when modern research has proven that certain chemicals are more harmful than previously believed. For example, let’s assume that the safety data sheets within your manufacturing facility failed to outline the dangers of a chemical that you use on a daily basis.
After implementing contemporary safety data sheets, you’ll need to archive the ones that you previously used. This is a legal obligation required of businesses that utilize safety data sheets.
In fact, businesses must properly archive outdated safety data sheets for 30 years from the date they are no longer in use.
3. Appoint a Specific Employee to Help Manage This Information
For larger companies, it can be highly difficult to ensure that your employees are properly consulting the information contained within these documents. So, it’s in your best interest to appoint a specific employee to help you accomplish this task.
This individual will be responsible for conveying to your workers where they are able to access safety data sheets, the key information to look for, and how to handle a situation where they are not able to find the required information. The latter obligation is particularly important, as workers may proceed based on their own intuition if they are not previously informed of how to react.
A circumstance like this could easily lead to severe consequences.
It should come as no surprise that you should thoroughly train your safety data sheet manager on their role. Failure to do so will likely result in your company failing to maintain compliance with OSHA standards.
Depending on the severity of this occurrence, you could experience penalties, fines, etc.
4. Ensure That Your Safety Data Sheets Are Properly Formatted
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses encounter regarding the use of safety data sheets is improper formatting. To elaborate, the information these documents contain may not be placed correctly throughout the document. Or, certain sections could be missing or incomplete.
Some of the most important mandatory sections include:
- How to handle first aid
- Toxicological data
- How to manage an accidental release
- The identification of the chemical
- The identification of the chemical’s potential hazards
- A list of ingredients
- Proper handling and storage
Put simply, these documents should provide your employees with comprehensive guidelines on how to safely use, transport, and store certain chemicals. Even smaller companies that only make use of small amounts of relatively benign chemicals (such as paint) must still take this obligation seriously.
You can visit this resource to learn more about the difference between an MSDS vs. SDS.
5. Consider Using Management Software
As your organization grows, you will likely discover that it becomes more and more difficult to properly manage your safety data sheet information. To clarify, there’s a significant difference between managing SDS info at a large organization and doing so at a small business that operates out of a single warehouse.
Fortunately, management software can greatly ease this burden. Not only are you able to automate a handful of tasks (such as safety data sheet generation), but you are also able to quickly search through a list of documented information to find what you’re looking for.
In practice, this allows users to check a database for information about a specific chemical, such as its ingredients or first aid measures.
As you can tell, this will serve to save you a significant amount of time. It will also ensure that you always have access to contemporary information, as this database can be updated at any time.
Implementing a Safety Data Sheet Can’t Be Neglected
It’s essential that you keep the above information in mind. Afterward, you’ll find that properly integrating a safety data sheet within your workplace is far easier than you first anticipated.
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