Providers of online WHMIS education claim that their program will help employees to:
“recognize hazardous materials, gather additional hazard information, and learn how to safely store, use and handle these items”
They do it by teaching people to read the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). For a small amount of money and an hour of time employees can be taught how to use the SDSs to protect themselves.
Consider the Time Required
Is the best way to communicate chemical safety information having employees read all the SDSs for the products they come in contact with?
Let’s think about that a bit more. The average person reads 200 words a minute and retains about 60% of what they read. For technical information (like an SDS) the reading rate drops to 50-75 words per minute. Again at 60% retention rate. An average SDS contains 3,500 words. At 75 words a minute it would take a typical person 45 minutes to read an SDS. And they would only retain 60% of what they read.
If you have 100 products with SDSs, it would take an employee 78 hours (or 2 weeks) to read all the sheets. If you have 100 employees it would take 7,800 hours or 4 person years for everyone to read every sheet. Not very practical! Plus, as we have discussed in earlier blogs, many SDSs don’t contain the information employees need to handle chemicals safely. How will they have their questions answered? Will they ask their supervisor? Will the supervisor have the answers?
What if Employees Didn’t Need to Read the SDS?
Imagine a simple 100-word summary of the hazards and company instructions on how to safely use the product. An employee could read this in 30 seconds (at 200 words per minute as technical jargon has been removed) -without their attention wavering.
To read all 100 summaries would take under an hour. All 100 employees could read all 100 summaries in 80 hours – 2 person weeks.
Yes, it would take some time to create the summaries. But with SDS RiskAssist™ your Health and Safety professional can do that in about 10 minutes per sheet. And you only do it once!
Rillea Technologies is an Ontario-based company providing cloud solutions for organizations interested in proactive chemicals management. Its platform, SDS RiskAssist™, digitizes WHMIS 2015 safety data sheets and reorganizes the data the way chemical safety experts would. The platform instantly prioritizes chemical hazards so that busy safety managers can assess and build clear one-page summaries for managing high and medium-risk chemicals. Employees can access these work instructions via mobile or desktop devices as often as needed, from anywhere in the world. SDS RiskAssist™ has been the recipient of the 2018 and 2019 Readers’s Choice Awards by Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine.