3 Tips to Successfully Executing Company Safety Data Sheets
Nearly all workplaces, in some shape or form, deal with the use of chemicals in their day-to-day operations. Whether you are a large-scale chemical manufacturing plant or a small-town mechanic shop, chemical safety is instrumental in protecting the environment and those around you. When working with hazardous chemicals, it is vital to be familiar with their properties, so it’s important to review and update your company’s Safety Data Sheet(s), or SDS, regularly.
What is a Safety Data Sheet?
A Safety Data Sheet (formerly known as a Material Safety Data Sheet, or MSDS) is a standardized document that contains information about a specific material including, but not limited to, properties of a chemical, potential health hazards if exposed, and proper ways to handle and store a material. It is organized into a template consisting of 16 sections, which was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce and ensure Hazard Communication Standards.
Sections included in an SDS template include:
- Section 1: Product Identification
- Section 2: Hazard(s) Identification
- Section 3: Composition and Information of Ingredients
- Section 4: First-Aid Measures
- Section 5: Fire Fighting Measures
- Section 6: Accidental Release Measures
- Section 7: Handling and Storage
- Section 8: Exposure Controls and Personal Protection
- Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties
- Section 10: Stability and Reactivity
- Section 11: Toxicological Information
- Section 12: Ecological Information
- Section 13: Disposal Considerations
- Section 14: Transport Information
- Section 15: Regulatory Information
- Section 16: Other Information
Tips for Successful Safety Data Sheets
Every company has a responsibility when it comes to their Safety Data Sheets. Not only are you required to provide employees with access to the document(s), you must continually update the SDS to reflect the correct content and communicate out all changes. And while a product’s SDS is initially obtained from the manufacturer directly, it is up to the company to maintain the document(s).
Make it Easily Accessible
As a company, you must ensure that all Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals at your facility are readily accessible to your team. SDS are most commonly kept in a yellow binder located in a centralized area of your facility. Others may elect to store all SDS on a computer. Both options are acceptable, but the latter may require you to have a backup available in the instance of a power outage or emergency. Notably, certain facilities may benefit from having multiple binders or access computers available dependent upon the site layout.
Keep it Up to Date
An effective Safety Data Sheet collection is one that is up to date and specific to the hazardous materials onsite. Over time, products and/or chemicals used in your facility may change. Changes consisting of the following may require amendment:
- A switch from one product to another (i.e. non-hazardous degreaser to a corrosive degreaser)
- Manufacturer changes in product ingredients
- New substantial findings identified
Additionally, new chemicals added into the workplace will need to have an SDS added to your company’s catalog, and all chemicals no longer used should be removed. One individual or a small group within your company should be assigned to manage and upkeep all SDS records.
To better protect your team from incident and liability, employees should be aware of the hazardous materials used at the facility and trained to work with or near them. Although certain sections of the Safety Data Sheet may not apply to everyone, your team should familiarize themselves with the format of an SDS. Familiarity will allow them to quickly reference corresponding sections pertaining to their work, which is especially important when a new type of hazardous material is introduced in the workplace. Communicating out a new hazardous material is key to educating workers to reduce workplace risk.
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