Imagine you are responsible for maintaining the paper copies of safety data sheets in a company with 150 people. This a soul sucking, thankless job that does not provide any tangible benefits to anyone. It is hard to get motivated to start.
But what if your efforts actually made your workplace safer? Here is an example of what you could accomplish.
The Paper Based Binder
It begins with 175 sheets in dust covered binders in a central location. They are out of date, out of order, and missing pages. You have no idea of what hazards people are being exposed to and there are no instructions on how to handle the products safely.
And not surprisingly – nobody is reading the sheets.
A Digital Transformation
Using a structured approach and new digital technology you transform how your organization manages chemical safety.
One-third of the sheets are redundant or no longer relevant as you only need 118 chemicals. Each of your twenty different work area identifies what they use. In doing so you realize that the average employee needs access to seventeen data sheets. That is ten per cent of the old binder and its 175 sheets.
All the products with chemicals on the exposure regulations were identified and flagged to ensure all safety regulations were followed. The company added clear simple instructions to create a one-page summary which covers hazards and control measures for each product. These summaries are less than 100 words.
And finally employees can access the information on their phones or desktops. For those without electronic access they are provided the seventeen pages in a hardcopy format.
The average employee now accesses seventeen, 100 word summaries instead of 175 safety data sheets with 2,400 words each. That works out to less than 1% of the information they used to require.
The company chose to eliminate 9 hazards products that were deemed too dangerous. Three of these had ingredients that are designated substances and one was a soap that was identified by the supplier with the hazard “suspected of causing cancer”. Prior to your work no one had any idea that this frequently used product was hazardous.
The benefits extended beyond safety as you reduce the number of suppliers – for one product dropping from seven suppliers to one.
When you are finished, employees are happy because they clearly understood the chemicals they use in the workplace, they know some hazardous products have been eliminated and best of all their mandatory WHMIS training time was cut in half.
Chemical Risk Management can be used to make dramatic improvements in chemical safety in any organization with the same or less effort than you are spending today complying with WHMIS.
I know. I have seen it!
This is the last of 6 blogs that talk about Chemical Risk Management. The series covered the following topics:
6. Case Study – How 1 Company Improved Chemical Safety
If you have any questions on this blog or the series, please contact me directly at [email protected]