Safety Data Sheets Are the International Language of Hazard Communication

hazard communication
Hazard communication standards require that workers know and understand the dangers of chemicals they are exposed to. 
Image Source: Jean-Pierre via Wikimedia Commons

Over the centuries, employee rights advocacy has ranged from issues as broad as the right to strike to security of family & medical leave. At the heart of the movement, though, is the protection of workers. From this movement has come the protection of workers exposed to workplace hazards. For firms dealing with hazardous chemicals, that means that workers have a right to know and understand the potential dangers associated with the chemicals they are exposed to.

Uniformly referred to as hazard communication, regulatory bodies around the world require employers to provide their employees with training and knowledge that prepares them to handle hazardous chemicals. A major component of these laws is to maintain safety data sheets for dangerous chemicals. Let’s examine how industrialized nations are implementing hazard communication programs to keep employees safe:

United States 

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). This is aimed not only at giving workers information on the chemicals they handle, but also ensuring that they understand the hazards of the chemicals. Part of the standard is a requirement that all companies handling chemicals maintain accurate SDSs to communicate the risks associated with hazardous chemical products. The SDSs must be readily accessible to all employees.

European Union

The regulation of hazard communication falls under the administration of the REACH regulatory framework in the EU. Chemical suppliers are required to provide accurate SDSs for chemicals that are classified as dangerous, hazardous, bioaccumulative or “of very high concern,” with stringent definitions for each category.


Health Canada administers the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), which establishes the requirement for workplace SDSs. Employers must maintain up-to-date SDS records for any controlled product to which an employee is exposed. SDS information may be kept in digital format, but all employees must have access to and be trained on the computer.

Working Toward Safety

It is clear that these national and international governments take employee safety very seriously. All three require that SDSs be maintained and accessible for all employees. A digital chemical inventory management system can help your lab meet the requirements of hazard communication standards around the world by providing the ability to configure and manage safety data based on region or regulatory agency. Multinational companies will appreciate the broad applicability of the system.

A digital chemical inventory management system provides a secure, digital location for all SDSs relevant to your lab. In fact, it can even be set up to link important documents directly to a particular container within the chemical inventory tracking system. That means that if a chemical enters your facility, the chemical inventory management system will link the corresponding SDS to the tracking file.

Another component of a chemical inventory management system that helps meet regulatory requirements is the simplicity of access. A complex system that is difficult for users to learn may not be a feasible approach for SDS management. But a digital chemical inventory management system provides simple access from any computer with web access.

If your lab is interested in streamlining hazard communication workflows, consider implementing a digital chemical inventory management system. Visit our website to learn more about how BIOVIA CISPro can help your firm maintain proper hazard communication standards.

4 thoughts on “Safety Data Sheets Are the International Language of Hazard Communication

  1. Its very important to maintain safety with chemicals, especially when theres so many different kinds and not all of us know how to handle them. Categorizing and providing the information is the right thing to do.

  2. Yes! Regulatory agencies are very consistent and clear about requirements for firms to provide the training and resources necessary for employees to acquire knowledge on safe chemical handling practices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *