Over 65 countries have adopted the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. There were disparities in the way various countries classified chemicals and specified safety procedures. The UN GHS aims to standardize the method as a way to enhance safety for everyone in the chain besides reducing the impact on the environment.
The US adopted GHS in 2012 and OSHA introduced modifications in the form of HazCom 2012. The changes involve updating existing MSDS to GHS safety data sheets and new labels according to UN GHS norms. The new safety data sheet is comprised of 16 sections arranged in a logical fashion. The new labels also carry text and pictograms that are unambiguous and give information at a glance. One of the main benefits of a standardized safety data sheet is that it is the same all over the world. Employees, whether they are based in the US, Europe or China, benefit by having a uniform SDS that they are familiar with and one in which they do not have to hunt for information. All sections are precisely laid out and finding specific information is fast and easy. By being better trained and knowledgeable employees maintain higher records of safety at workplaces, whether they are involved in processing or transporting chemicals.
Updating MSDS to SDS is easier said than done especially when a company has hundreds of chemical products in its product list. A company may be buying and formulating chemicals and that compounds the difficulties since it is a downstream user and relies on SDS being supplied by the original manufacturer to create an updated SDS. Under the new SDS, chemicals have been reclassified according to various hazard levels and it is not easy to make a precise decision about the category into which a chemical fits, especially if it is a formulation made up of several chemicals.
Should a manufacturer/distributor/exporter or importer not comply with OSHA HazCom 2012 then penalties are likely to be imposed. The process of updating to new SDS must be speedy and also precise. This is where an expert SDS authoring service provides the ideal solution for speed and precision in SDS preparation. Experts in their panel, knowledgeable about HazCom and UN’s specific revisions applicable to the US, prepare the data sheets and also the safety labels.
This is supported by conversion of printed documentation to electronic format. Electronic documentation stored in a central database or stored in personal devices of floor staff is important because it allows for easy and fast access that leads to fast emergency responses should a situation ever arise. Electronic documentation is further supported by training to employees on reading and interpreting SDS and in taking suitable emergency measures. Employees receive primary training and then keep their knowledge refreshed by access to online videos and training materials. Translation is another part of the service delivering by experts in GHS SDS preparation. Cross-border trade is common and a company must now only comply with international laws but also supply the SDS in the local language of the country to which it exports.