Where Do the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) Live in Your Lab?
One of the tales told by our traveling chemical inventory consulting team takes place in a laboratory far, far away. In this laboratory, researchers research and lab managers manage, and the facility continues along steadily. One day, our consulting team toured the building, and after entering a room with key-card protection, they came upon row after row and cabinet after cabinet of dust-covered binders labeled “MSDS” in large block print. At this point, our consultant asked how people without key-card access to this room could access the safety data sheets (SDS) for the chemicals on their workbenches. The answer, “they can’t.”
There are many risks to locking away SDS in a guarded room. The glaring risk is that employees will not know what dangers are lurking in their workspace and how to respond to first aid issues or a fire. Another obvious problem is that OSHA has regulations on how and where labels and SDS information must be placed. Isolating SDS binders in a locked room is not in regulatory compliance.
This story has a happy ending, because our consultants shared ideas for inventory best practices with this group of lab managers. And one by one, their eyes lit up as they realized that employees would be able to access SDS information in the cloud and track the whereabouts of every chemical container on site.
It was around the time when the lab managers found out that safety inspections could be completed with smart phones that the sounds of clapping and laughter could be heard. Well, not really, but the facility did improve their safety procedures, workflow efficiency and regulatory compliance with one technological upgrade.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication regulations have prevented thousands of deaths, injuries and illnesses. Recently, modern advancements and international commerce have spurred OSHA into changing its standards to meet the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labeling.
With the new system, all labels and SDS must follow firm rules about how chemical information is presented. This means that hazard warnings will be the same no matter who produces them or where. According to OSHA, this move will reduce international trade barriers and clear up the differences between local, national and international regulations. You can hear an OSHA representative explain the GHS implementation in this video.
Having SDS available electronically means that the chemical facility can toss out the inefficient binder system. If a lab is juggling multiple container sizes from different manufacturers, it’s not uncommon to receive separate SDS. This is a problem with readily available solution!
The changes to the classification and labeling systems are rolling out in industrial facilities in states across the nation. The first training deadline is coming up on December 1st, 2013. This gives employees time to become familiar with the new labels before full-scale launch of the system in 2015.
At ChemSW, we offer chemical inventory solutions to meet the needs of the chemical industry. In addition to tracking chemicals and safety data sheets, our software solution, CISPro™, enables turnkey regulatory reporting, efficient container management, and more. Please visit our website to find out more about our services today!