Are you an employee working in a factory or laboratory? Have you heard or encountered a Hazard Communication Program before? If so then you must be someone working with chemicals. Of course I’m not just talking about any kind of chemical here. I mean chemicals listed as hazardous substances.
If you work with such chemicals, chances are, you have encountered an MSDS before. MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheets should be part of an employer’s Hazard Communication Program. It is OSHA’s requirement from every employer whose employees work with harmful chemicals.
Before we go any further, let me clarify to you that the phrase “work with” include tasks such as using, storing, manufacturing, handling and moving hazardous chemicals.
3 W’s, 1 H
So what should you take into consideration when making an MSDS?
An MSDS should include detailed information about the product’s hazards. Should an accidental exposure happen, an MSDS should be the best source of immediate information for the employer and employees.
The MSDS should train employees about the nature, appearance and properties of the chemicals they need to work on. It should include the following information:
- physical hazards of the chemical (flammability, vaporization, etc.)
- precautions of safety handling of the chemical
- health effects of exposure to the chemical and the levels at which the exposure is hazardous
- methods of controlling or eliminating the hazards posed by the chemical
- proper disposal methods for waste chemical or materials contaminated by the chemical
- hazards posed by reactions between the chemical and other chemicals or common items in your workplace
- emergency first aid measures in case an accidental exposure happens
The MSDS should be quickly accessible to employees working with hazardous chemicals.
WHY and HOW
Every employee working with hazardous chemicals must know how to read and understand the information provided in the MSDS.
The MSDS must help employers in ensuring that employees who need to work with the chemicals know why they are hazardous, how to handle them safely and how they should respond in the event of an accidental exposure.
Responsibilities and Records
The employer or safety coordinator must appoint one person to manage all the MSDS in your workplace. This person should ensure that:
- the list of hazardous chemicals is current
- MSDS is updated for new products
- the identity of each chemical on the list matches that written on its MSDS
- the container is properly labeled
- each incoming hazardous-chemical container has MSDS
- MSDS is available at your main office, at all major worksites, in the vehicles of all supervisors or foremen
- all employees know the location of the MSDS
- outdated information in MSDS is deleted
Another reminder: If you’re a manufacturer or a distributor of chemicals, it is your responsibility to provide your customer with an MSDS and a warning label for each container of the product you ship to them.
If you stopped working with a certain chemical, you no longer have to keep its MSDS. Take note, though, that for at least 30 years, you still need to keep a record of the chemical’s identity, locations and the years it was used.
If you need additional information about hazardous chemicals and safety in the workplace, just click here or on the links below: