Is your mission this summer to secure up-to-date safety data sheets, or SDSs, for the chemicals your workers use regularly? Smart thinking.
Research shows that workers worldwide are experiencing a health crisis due to being exposed to hazardous chemicals. Many lose their lives following these types of exposures, as they suffer from fatal diseases, poisonings, cancer, explosions, or fires.
Fortunately, a SDS database can give you access to various SDSs. How do you work it, though? Let’s explore why SDSs are so important and how to find SDSs in an SDS database.
Importance of SDSs
An SDS is a standard document containing important occupational health and safety information. That’s because chemical manufacturers are required to communicate their chemicals’ hazard information to people who handle these chemicals. Providing SDSs is an easy way to do this.
Distributors and importers also use SDSs to communicate chemicals’ hazard information.
An SDS is comprehensive, covering several important details about a product. These include the following:
- The product’s chemical properties
- Suggested protective measures
- Potential environmental and health hazards
SDSs also explain the safety precautions people should take to properly store, handle, and transport various chemicals. In addition, they outline the emergency procedures people should follow for these chemical products.
According to the guidelines of OSHA, the United States’ health and safety administration, you must make sure your workers can access a current SDS for every hazardous chemical they handle.
Why Use an SDS Database?
An SDS database can be an excellent tool for locating the SDSs for various chemical products used at your company.
Some specialized websites store SDSs in databases and allow people to search SDSs on their sites. You may then download a specific number of these data sheets for free.
These electronic databases will let you search for an SDS indexed in multiple ways — for example, by typing in the product name (more on this next).
Search for an SDS
The first step in searching for a chemical product’s SDS is to gather the product’s identifying information, including the product name and the manufacturer’s name. Your company purchased the chemical directly from its manufacturer or through a distributor.
Then, fill out the search fields. One search box may ask you for the product name. Another might ask you for the manufacturer’s name.
You may also be asked to type the words contained in the product name to aid in your search. In addition, a search box may prompt you to search for a chemical by typing in the product’s CAS number.
CAS numbers are numerical designations for chemicals that the United States’ chemical society maintains through their chemical abstract service. Every chemical substance has a unique CAS number.
CAS numbers can help workers more quickly retrieve critical information about different chemicals. These numbers may feature as many as 10 digits and contain three hyphenated sections, much like Social Security numbers.
A CAS number’s ending digits are numbers used to verify the CAS number’s uniqueness.
Searching for an SDS in a database may seem like a lengthy process, but having the right product identifiers on hand will make all the difference in your search’s success. The most important thing to remember is that taking this step is essential for remaining compliant with OSHA requirements.
The Results of An SDS Search
Let’s say you’re looking for the SDS for Clorox’s antimicrobial soap for handwashing.
You can search for the SDS by typing the product name and company name, The Clorox Company, into a database. If you have the CAS number 2682-20-4, you can enter this in the CAS number search box as well. You should then pull up the SDS for the hand soap.
On the SDS, you should see a list of hazard statements and precautions, as well as the hazard category the product falls into.
For instance, the SDS will tell you that the hand soap is fatal if one of your workers inhales it.
The SDS will also tell you to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking when using hand soap. Workers may furthermore want to wear face and eye protection, as well as protective clothing and gloves with the product.
The SDS additionally explains what workers should do if the product gets in their eyes. Your workers should remove any contact lenses in their eyes and rinse their eyes with water cautiously for a few minutes. They should see a doctor if their eyes continue to feel irritated.
In addition, according to the product’s SDS, if the hand soap is accidentally ingested, workers should avoid inducing vomiting. Furthermore, any clothing contaminated with antimicrobial soap should be removed and washed before being used again.
Finally, workers should be able to see on the SDS that the product falls into the category of acute toxicity.
The Product’s Revision Date
On your search results page, you should see a revision date listed for the product you are searching for in an SDS database. That’s because a chemical’s SDS can expire if new information becomes available about the chemical.
OSHA requires employers, importers, distributors, and chemical manufacturers to record the latest information about a chemical product’s hazards and communicate this. Chemical suppliers must periodically review and update their SDSs to ensure they are always current.
Product labels have to be updated with new, significant information within six months after employers or chemical manufacturers become aware of this information. Meanwhile, the products’ SDSs must be updated within three months.
Examples of new, significant information that should be added to a chemical’s SDS include the following:
- A new exposure limit
- New requirements for risk management
- A new hazard
- A change in classification
Likewise, changes in protective measures should be reflected in SDSs. If a product formulation is altered, this change should be added to the product’s SDS as well.
Note that once a chemical supplier has updated a product SDS, the company isn’t required to issue updates to their customers immediately. That’s why it’s critical you ensure your company always has the latest SDSs for the products your workers use.
On-Demand SDS Access
As a decision-maker or environmental health and safety professional at your company, you can give your workers access to up-to-date chemicals’ SDSs in a couple of ways.
One way is to make a physical SDS binder available and constantly check for revised and updated SDSs to add to the binder. The second is to create a computer-based SDS database.
A computer-based SDS database is superior to a binder-based system. That’s because when you work with a database vendor, they will typically update and index your SDSs for you.
With a digital database, workers who need a chemical’s hazard, emergency response, and proper handling information can simply go to your database to view this information or print out the SDS.
This is why physical SDS binders are rare in organizations today. In recent years, OSHA has encouraged companies to use electronic databases due to their better functionality and accessibility.
How On-Demand SDS Access Works
When you work with an SDS management service provider, you can give your workers access to your company’s chemical inventory from their connected devices.
A reputable service provider can scan SDSs into a distinct database for your organization. They can then index the SDSs and electronically download these data sheets to your company’s network.
You may even be able to access software that will help you run analyses and reports of your company’s hazardous materials. Quality software will also enable you to print labels and binders.
With the right software, you can even distribute your data sheets to employees on your company Intranet. Alternatively, you can let employees access your SDS database with a web address or login if you want to host the database online.
Either way, you can rest assured your SDSs will be up to date. That’s because an excellent SDS management service will solicit updated SDSs from customers. They’ll then include the latest ones in your database.
How We Can Help With Your SDSs
You can search for a chemical’s data sheet in an SDS database by using identifiers like the product name and manufacturer name. Alternatively, you can simply create your own real-time SDS database.
At Online SDS, we can help create an MSDS online database for your company. We’ll also help you manage the database, ensuring OSHA compliance.
Get in touch with us to learn more about our services. Schedule a demonstration today!