Originally Published March 5, 2019
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 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, based on the experiences of one company we have worked with.
The Paper Based Binder
The company originally had 175 SDSs in 20 dust covered binders in central locations. They were out of date, out of order, and missing pages. They had no idea of what hazards their people were being exposed to and there were no instructions on how to handle the products safely.
And not surprisingly – nobody was reading the information.
A Digital Transformation
Using Rillea’s structured approach and digital technology, SDS RiskAssist, they transformed how their organization manages chemical safety.
One-third of their sheets were redundant or no longer relevant as they only needed 118 chemicals. Each of their twenty different work areas identified what chemicals were being used. In doing so the safety officer realized that the average employee needed access to seventeen data sheets. That is ten percent of the data sheets in the old binder with its 175.
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 be asked to review.
The company chose to eliminate 9 hazardous 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 this work no one had any idea that this frequently used product was hazardous.
The benefits extended beyond safety with the reduction in the number of suppliers – for one product dropping from seven suppliers to one.
When the transition was finished, the employees were happy because they now clearly understand the hazards of the chemicals they use in the workplace, they know some hazardous products were eliminated for their protection and best of all, their mandatory WHMIS training time was cut in half and made more relevant.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org