Help Prevent OSHA Hazard Communication Violations by Implementing a Chemical Inventory Management System

Although everyone appreciates the important role the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays in keeping our work environment safe, nobody actually likes a visit from an OSHA inspector. Even if a workplace has a sterling record of occupational safety, there are no guarantees that an inspector will not discover something that justifies a fine.

Hazard Communication violations can be reduced with a CMS
In the laboratory, the most frequent OSHA violation is Hazard Communication.
Image courtesy of dbnews.stanford.edu

However, what if there was a way to discover and prevent the most common violations inspectors find during a review? Would you seize the opportunity to remedy things?

At a National Safety Council held earlier this week, OSHA was extremely forthcoming with information regarding violations. In fact, it announced the top 10 most frequently cited violations that it has found so far during the 2014 calendar year. The complete list includes the following:

    1. Fall protection (1926.501) – 6,143
    2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,161
    3. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 4,029
    4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,223
    5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 2,704
    6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,662
    7. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) – 2,490
    8. Ladders (1926.1053) – 2,448
    9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 2,200
    10. Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) – 2,056

In general, most of these violations discovered by OSHA did not occur within a laboratory environment. Laboratories do not regularly utilize scaffolding or powered industrial trucks at all. However, the one common violation on this list that does affect the laboratory industry pertains to hazard communication.

Hazard communication refers to the disclosure of toxic and hazardous substances to employees who are assigned to work near them. In laymen’s terms, this means providing employees access to the Safety Data Sheets, as well as sufficient training to help them understand any health and safety risks involving substances.

With the awareness and attention regarding the details an OSHA inspectors review, how will your firm address the issue? How will you take action?

For those laboratories that would like to ensure that they are not one of the 5,161 companies that were in violation of OSHA Hazard Communication rules, I have a simple recommendation – Install a chemical management system.

When installed, a chemical inventory management system can help laboratories reduce the risk of an OSHA hazard communication violation in the following ways:

  • Onsite Chemical Reports – A chemical inventory management system will provide safety compliance officers with specific information regarding the toxic and hazardous substances that are currently stored at a location. Using this information, officers can develop proper trainings in order to ensure that employees understand any associated health and safety risks when working with these substances.
  • SDS Distribution – Another benefit provided by a chemical inventory management system is the ability to grant employees digital access to all the necessary Safety Data Sheets. Within a chemical inventory management system, these sheets are stored digitally and can be recalled quickly when needed. In addition, some chemical inventory management system’s can be programmed to require employees to digitally acknowledge that they have received and read the appropriate SDS prior to working with any toxic substances. A digital acknowledgement provides irrefutable proof to OSHA inspectors that employees have received the necessary hazard communication.
  • Digital Tracking – A well-designed chemical inventory management system will also provide to management insight into the chemicals that are currently stored within their workplace. This information can be used to reduce these types of chemicals through the greening of the chemical supply chain.

OSHA audits are a necessary part of ensuring laboratory safety. However, that does not mean that your laboratory should become part of the statistics and fail to comply with the required hazard communication. Save yourself the time and hassle of managing hazard communication by implementing a chemical inventory management system.

Accelrys CISPro is a chemical inventory management system designed to help work towards compliance with chemical regulations. For more information, please visit our website today.

2 thoughts on “Help Prevent OSHA Hazard Communication Violations by Implementing a Chemical Inventory Management System

  1. What I think is that there’s not enough real focus on chemical safety in general, especially in undergrad. They make you watch the same video over and over, but at least in my school there was no real focus on being safe other than lab instructors insisting you wear gloves and goggles. And I’ve been though maybe 10 or so direct chemistry courses.

  2. i rather agree with the statement that more regulations should be implemented because this is a rather difficult and dangerous job

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