What Are Safety Data Sheets and How Do They Protect Employees?
Most workplaces must deal with chemical safety on some level. Whether they are a chemical plant that deals with multiple hazardous materials on a daily basis, or they are an office building that only use toner cartridges and cleaning supplies, chemicals are a part of the job and are handled by employees.
But regardless of how many or how few chemicals you have in your workplace, keeping track of the data and safety protocols surrounding these chemicals is not only your ethical responsibility as an employer, it is also your legal responsibility. And that is where Safety Data Sheets (SDS) come in.
What are Safety Data Sheets?
An SDS is a document that contains detailed information about potential hazards of a chemical along with safety instructions that will help you mitigate that hazard, and instructions on how to respond should an accident occur.
Essentially, it answers the questions: “What is the chemical?” and “How can I stay safe while working with this chemical?”
The labelling requirements for SDSs are outlined in the Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and has been incorporated to WHMIS 2015. Each SDS has the following sections:
- Hazard identification
- Composition information
- First aid measures
- Firefighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls
- Personal protection
What are the Responsibilities of the Employer?
The SDS is a standardized document that is created by the manufacturer or supplier of a particular chemical or mixture. Because of this, the instructions it provides are general and may not be specific to a particular workplace.
This means that the employer still has to digest the information and know how to apply it to their own workplace based on how the product is being used and what measures they can take to protect their employees.
Each workplace is required to have an SDS that is easily accessible for each hazardous material that is present on the site.
How Safety Data Sheets help your employees
SDSs are there to make your workplace safer for your employees. They help to mitigate risk and inform employees on what to do in the event of an accident. Specifically, SDSs can help employees in the following ways:
- Informs them of what kind of PPE they may need for handling a particular substance.
- Provides guidance on the transfer and disposal of chemicals.
- Identifies which health concerns may be a result of exposure to a chemical.
- May provide guidance on how to design your workspace (e.g. what you might need when designing a ventilation system).
- Identifies actions that should be taken following an accident.
- Allows you to determine whether an employee requires medical monitoring following an accident or near miss.
Contact TeksMed today
Safety Data Sheets can help you to significantly reduce your risk of employees becoming ill or injured on the job. When an accident does happen however, it is important to ensure that your employees get quick access to care and testing, and that injured employees have all the supports in place that they need to return to work safely.
At TeksMed, we can help your company through our expedited health management and return to work services. Contact us today to learn more.