Doing things related to your business the right way is important for more than one reason. It has to deal with not only keeping everything and everyone in check and not having to deal with problems but with actually protecting your whole operation, from assets and tools to the wellbeing of your employees.
Job security is crucial to survival and prosperity, but it does not matter nearly as much if the position is lacking in important ways. In the USA alone, between 5,000 and 6,000 deaths on the job occur yearly, which comes down to over 100 per week and more than 15 per day on average. The more dangerous the industry and the jobs involved, the more security and safety are needed across the board.
Throughout modern history, there have been many attempts to lower this number until no more work-related deaths happen. One such effort comes in the form of safety data sheets, or SDS for short. This was an attempt by the OSHA (short for Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to ask companies to take better care of their hazardous situations and chemicals so that the people working there are safer.
Injuries have no place in the workplace, let alone deaths, so making sure that the employees know what needs to be done and how to properly use dangerous tools or behave in dangerous situations is important. In the following sections, we focus on managing your company’s safety sheets and how to do it. More particularly, we are talking about the tips and mistakes you will definitely want to avoid. Check this website to find out more about this.
1. Follow the Communication Standard
One of the basic principles of safety data management is spreading the word and communicating within the company. The hazard communication standard has therefore been created with the main goal to classify potential hazards and make sure every single employee knows about them, as well as how to handle them.
This not only keeps the employees safe, but also shields the business from eventual legal battles that can dry out your finances when they are inevitably prolonged/ Communication standards are different in every industry, but the OSHA regulations are largely the same. It will always deal with staying safe around dangerous chemicals and giving the workforce the right information on how to handle them. Ensuring that everyone follows the communication standard is the first step and one of the more important tips regarding the management of safety data sheets.
All of the employees need to be able to access the sheets, but there is a right way to display it to them, when to do it, and where. When it comes to the location, it is rather easy and logical. Every facility the company owns needs to have the sheet on clear display, easy to spot, and accessible by the workforce. The organization of the sheets themselves is not really universal and there are no guidelines you must follow.
However, the rule of thumb is to make it a binder when it comes to physical form and in-house use, and an online database when it comes to digital. Storing them online is definitely the way to go in modern times as it is the most optimal. Just make sure that every employee can access them both while working and when at home. For something like this, there should not be any login info required due to the urgency of the matter. It is not a person nor a private thing and every second matters. Backup copies are a no-brainer so make sure to have them.
3. Know What to Include in the Sheets
According to OSHA and their recommendations, there need to be 16 different sections included, 12 of which are mandatory and 4 of which are only needed for some types of companies and industries. The 12 obligatory sections include identification, hazard identification, ingredients, first-aid measures, firefighter measures, accidental release, storage/handling, personal protection and exposure, chemical/physical properties, reactivity and stability, toxicology, and other information.
These are the things that every SDS has to have without question. The other four are ecological, transport, regulatory, and disposal data. Once you know how to properly include everything your respective company needs, your colleagues will be working in a much safer environment.
4. Labeling and Signage
This is something that you should have regardless of safety data sheet management guidelines because it makes sense and it has become something of a universal trend. Labeling toxic and hazardous material is a very important part of this whole endeavor, because how else can people know what needs special care and what does not? Proper labeling placed somewhere clearly visible and easy to read ensures that nobody takes their handling lightly.
Now, not everything that is dangerous counts as a potential hazard according to SDSs. Which materials are exempt from the rules can be found elsewhere as they greatly depend on the company and the industry. Everything that was said about the labeling can also be applied to signage. Hazard signs across the company, or at least in front of and inside the facilities where there can be trouble are a must. Warnings like these are very effective in informing the workers what to pay attention to and where to be extra careful.
5. Training the Employees
Last but not least, we have to touch upon the topic of training, informing, and educating the very people who could end up in danger. The four tips mentioned above are crucial and they are mandatory if you want safety for everyone, but it is still up to the management and the employees to work together and have the right workplace culture. If you want them to be safe, they need to have the right protective equipment and tools to do the job and know how to use them.
Educate them on why it matters and what the consequences are. Hold regular meetings and safety presentations, followed by an occasional test. Also, new hazards can appear with new equipment or chemicals so be ready to update your guidelines and regulations in a timely manner.