There are about 3.4 fatalities per every 100,000 full-time workers.
Workplace injuries and fatalities happen the most in high-risk industries such as construction. However, even a typical 9 to 5 office job has its risks.
Something as simple as improperly labeled cleaning supplies can put workers at risk. The only way to stay safe and compliant is by understanding what safety data documents bring to the table.
What exactly are safety data sheets, and what products require them? Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
What Is a Material Safety Data Sheet?
First, what is a safety data sheet? You can think of safety sheets as detailed documents with critical information about the products they are for.
The information can be life-saving, helping you and your employees know how to respond safely. If you’re having trouble understanding the safety information, sites like www.kha.com help break it down. The paper will let you know about health hazards, environmental hazards, and precautions for safe handling.
Safety data sheets also outline emergency and first aid procedures and the best control measures. Employers and employees can use the information on safety sheets to help select safe products. The documents are also a great way to prepare for unexpected exposure situations.
Employers need to use detailed safety data documents during training so that employees have all of the information they need. Employees also need to be trained on the health and physical hazards of chemicals in the workplace.
Where do you get your safety sheets from? Typically whoever imports or manufactures the hazardous chemicals will create the datasheet. You can request the documents from retailers, and sometimes digital copies will be available.
Occupational vs. Consumer Usage
There are a couple of different ways hazardous materials can be present in the workplace. First, there’s consumer usage, and second, there’s occupational usage.
Consumer usage takes place whenever you use a manner in the same way you would at home. Occupational usage happens whenever an employee uses a chemical in a greater capacity than a consumer would. If the product or chemical is being used in a manner that it wasn’t originally designed, this is also considered occupational usage.
An example of consumer usage will be if you require your employees to Windex their workstations. If employees are Windexing their computer monitors, you don’t need safety data documents.
Alternatively, if you have an office cleaning team that uses Windex in large quantities, you’ll need safety data documents. When there are large quantities of chemicals in use, a safety data document is almost always necessary.
The same line of thinking holds true if you’re using products in an unusual way. For instance, let’s say that you have employees clean product parts with Windex. Since Windex’s intended use is for windows, you’ll need to include safety data documents.
Understanding the Important Safety Information
Earlier, we mentioned that safety data documents have to communicate handling emergency spills. But what else do these documents help with?
For one, a safety data document will provide crystal clear product identification, including its official chemical name. The distributor or manufacturer’s name should also be clearly visible, like their address and phone number. There should also be use directions and an emergency phone number just in case.
The datasheet will include any restrictions that the chemical has, so employees can stay safe. You can expect your hazard identification to include every hazard within the chemical.
For instance, all of the required label elements should be clearly outlined. Both information on ingredients and composition will be available.
It doesn’t matter if the product uses trade secret claims; manufacturers must be completely transparent. Along with outlining the details of the chemical itself, the datasheet provides first aid measures.
Keep in mind that reactivity and stability will include the chemicals. Your datasheet will also let you know how reactive or stable the chemical is.
As far as environmental concerns go, you can expect a detailed list of all pertinent ecological information. For instance, you’ll be able to find out the best way to dispose of the chemical so that you don’t inadvertently hurt the environment.
The datasheet will also help you with transport and regulatory information. Just be sure to double-check the date of the data sheet to ensure it includes the latest revisions.
Safety Data Documents Exemptions
There are certain products that are exempt from OSHA’s hazard communication standard. For instance, if a chemical doesn’t pose a health risk to employees or any type of physical hazard, it might not need safety data documents. If the product doesn’t release more than small quantities of hazardous chemicals, it doesn’t need safety data documents.
For instance, alcoholic beverages at restaurants don’t have to include safety data documents. As long as the alcoholic beverages are at a consumer location, safety data documents aren’t necessary.
Cosmetics are also exempt since they’re intended for personal use. Next, drugs and pharmaceuticals in their final form don’t require safety data documents. These include pills, tablets, and any solid-form drugs for personal use.
First aid supplies are also exempt, as are hazardous waste and remediation. Moving on, tobacco products are also exempt from safety data documents. However, you will find a Surgeon General warning on all tobacco products.
Finally, wood products, including lumber, don’t require safety data documents in specific situations. For instance, if the wood isn’t going to be processed and it’s not processed with chemicals, then no data sheet is required.
Keep Your Team Safe
It’s clear to see that safety data sheets are an important part of keeping your workplace and workers safe from harm. Start reviewing them today since familiarizing yourself with the information on these sheets could save a life.
Take an inventory of every hazardous or chemical product your company uses. Double-check that there’s a safety data document, and make sure it’s up to date.
Your next step will be to plan a company training where you can teach employees about the information on these documents. For more safety tips, read another one of our posts.