Over the last couple of decades, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) have become increasingly easy for chemical users to acquire electronically. Most manufacturers host up-to-date copies on their websites, readily available to the public. With the increasing accessibility to SDSs, the common query arising amongst EHS professionals is “are electronic SDSs OSHA compliant?” The answer: yes–given a handful of basic criteria are met. Detailed information can be found on the OSHA website, here and here.
When OSHA compliance criteria are met, several extreme advantages exist to using an electronic SDS management system over the traditional hard-documentation approach. Here are the top 5 benefits of an electronic SDS management system that every EHS administrator should consider.
1. Swift & Accurate SDS Downloading
With most electronic SDS management systems, SDSs can be added or updated in the system in two different ways.
- Manually – users and administrators can manually add PDF documents for any chemical within the system. (These documents are often available for download from the manufacturer’s website.)
- Automatically – an automated API web search can be utilized that scours the internet for the most accurate chemical-to-SDS match (again, pulling from specific manufacturers when possible). Administrators then review these automatically downloaded files, confirming authenticity and enabling access to end-users.
2. Chemical Inventory System Integration
Many chemical inventory software systems include an option for electronic SDS management. This ‘add-on’ can seamlessly integrate with the inventory system. For each inventoried item, users are one mouse click away from viewing the relevant SDS. The resulting efficiency and organization benefit both end-users and administrators.
3. Ease of Access
Access to and utilization of mobile electronic devices is at an all-time high. With the incorporation of electronic SDSs, once logged into the system, mobile users can retrieve crucial documents whenever they need them, from wherever they are, without the labor of tracking down a hardcopy SDS binder.
4. Electronic SDS Book Assembly
Retention of hard-copy SDS books may still be required in the event that electronic versions cannot be accessed (e.g., power outage, cellular/WiFi data loss, etc.). Electronic SDS management systems assist in meeting this requirement as well, with the capability to instantly assemble SDS books. At the click of a button, end-users or supervisors can generate full PDF compilations of their current inventory’s SDSs, complete with cover page and table of contents.
5. Multi-Language Support
Science and industry are universal. Taking into consideration the increased demand for companies to establish global connections, it is important to consider supporting a variety of languages in your SDS database to stay competitive. Accommodating this growing business standard, Electronic SDS solutions support the conversion of documents into multiple languages.
Given the significant advantages that electronic SDS management has over traditional approaches, EHS administrators should consider incorporating such a system (if they have not done so already). SDSs exist solely to provide users with critical safety information about the chemicals and compounds they represent. Comprehensive cloud-based platforms are now at the forefront of the EHS world, and utilizing these tools allows administrators to make their SDS databases more accessible, accurate, and complete than ever before.
Joe comes to the SafetyStratus team with over 15 years of experience in the biological sciences and laboratory management and safety. At the University of Connecticut, and later at the University of the Sciences, Joe managed multiple high-volume biology teaching laboratories. He also worked as an Aquatic Biologist for the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds. Most recently Joe held the position of Laboratory Safety Manager in the University of the Sciences’ Environmental Health & Safety Department, overseeing all aspects of safety inspections and compliance in over 150 campus teaching and research spaces.
Originally from Connecticut, Joe has lived in the Philadelphia suburbs for the last 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Biology from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. In his free time, Joe enjoys working out, taking in good football game or movie, and traveling with his wife to sunny Caribbean destinations whenever possible.
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