Chemical Safety Management – The Pain Points Explained

Chemical Safety Management – The Pain Points Explained

Published February 21, 2019

4 minute read

Managing chemicals in the workplace can be a never-ending responsibility that environmental, health, and safety (EHS) professionals must oversee daily. Chemical safety management can be a comprehensive task, but understanding the pain points and how to effectively alleviate them can make life easier when managing chemicals.

What are the Chemical Safety Management Pain Points?


Approving Chemicals

Engineers, supervisors, or other workers may request that new chemicals be purchased and then used or stored at the facility. However, before chemicals arrive on site, they should undergo an internal approval process. The process usually includes checking all 16 sections of the most recent Safety Data Sheet (SDS) from the manufacturer for its chemical composition, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, hazards, chemical labeling, personal protective equipment requirements, emergency response requirements, fire protection requirements, waste disposal information and methods, import or export notifications or restrictions, and any other regulatory requirements. 

The chemical should either be approved or rejected, with the Chemical Approval Request documentation retained. The chemical approval process is time-consuming for EHS professionals, but it ensures that all parties, including the workers who requested the chemical, understand the details and requirements of a new chemical arriving onsite.

Accessible Safety Data Sheets

After a chemical is approved and before purchasing, the SDS should be entered, stored, and maintained in a chemical safety management system, chemical safety environmental management system, or another type of database. The management system or database that stores SDSs should be in a location that is accessible to all employees. 

Employees have the right to know the chemicals they work with, including the hazards and the controls they need to protect themselves. Therefore, companies must ensure that the database or management system is accessible, easy to use, and that employees understand how to use it. Ensuring that employees can access the database and remember how to use it can be a perpetual process that takes time, effort, and constant reminders.

Maintaining Safety Data Sheets

SDSs must be documented and updated for each hazardous chemical on your work site. When the chemical is received onsite at the facility, the SDS should arrive in the shipment with the chemical. In your SDS Database, you must check the version or date on the SDS that you currently maintain. Then, you must compare it to the SDS that arrived in the shipment with the chemical to ensure that it was not updated with a newer version or date. 

If the SDS version or date is the same in your database and in the shipment, no action is necessary because your database contains the latest version of the SDS. However, if the SDS in the shipment shows an updated version or newer date, you need to ensure the new version of the SDS is entered into the SDS database. Constantly renewing SDSs is a nonstop practice, but it must be completed.

Training Employees

Employees should be trained in the chemicals they use, the hazards they are exposed to, and how to effectively control them to prevent injuries, illnesses, fires, explosions, property damage, or chemical spills. This includes training employees on how to find the SDSs in the chemical safety management system and how to read SDSs and chemical labels. In addition, employers should train workers on chemical hazards such as flammable, corrosive, or carcinogenic, or if the chemical has other dangerous characteristics. 

After the worker is trained in the chemical hazards, the employer should also train them on the controls that are in place to protect them. Controls can include local exhaust ventilation systems, explosion-proof equipment, fume hoods, and personal protective equipment requirements such as chemical-resistant gloves, goggles, face shields, and respirators. Training employees is a prolonged and continuous process due to the constant influx of new employees and adding new chemicals to a facility's chemical inventory.

Storing Chemical Properly

Chemicals should be stored in specific ways depending on their hazards and characteristics. Employers must ensure that incompatible chemicals are not stored together due to the potential of unwanted reactions that can cause fires or explosions. Specific chemicals should be stored in flammable cabinets, while others can be stored in a warehouse. Certain chemicals should not be exposed to direct sunlight, and various chemicals should be stored in well-ventilated areas. 

Understanding how each chemical is to be stored is extensive because some manufacturing facilities store and use hundreds or even thousands of chemicals. Therefore, keeping track of how chemicals should be stored can be daunting but must be examined to prevent undesirable consequences.

How to Alleviate the Pain Points of Chemical Safety Management 

Using an environmental, health, and safety management software like EcoOnline will reduce the stress of managing chemicals. We have seen the difficulty that EHS professionals go through to oversee chemical safety and have created solutions specifically to target chemical management! 

SDS Management

Here at EcoOnline, we source SDSs directly from the manufacturer and upload a PDF version of the sheet onto our system. We then collect the information from Sections 1, 2, 3, 9, and 14 and regulations for all EcoOnline clients. This information is populated into our database and displayed on an easily understood product screen. EcoOnline can be the database or chemical safety management system you and your employees choose to use to access SDSs of chemicals used in the facility. 

In addition, our database will help you keep your SDSs up to date because we automatically maintain them for you by reviewing them annually. Our chemical management system will diminish the time and effort you will have to contribute to ensuring the SDSs in your database are current.

Tracking Hazards

When we review the SDSs for you annually, this will allow you to keep track of the hazards that your chemicals pose, as well as their physical and chemical properties. In addition, when SDSs are uploaded onto our database, we gather information from the chemical's SDS. Our database will alleviate the meticulous reviewing of SDSs because the hazard and storage information is collected into one database for you to examine.

Training Employees

EcoOnline is a leading provider of Chemical Safety training courses. We provide a variety of training courses for companies in many industries, including healthcare, pharmaceutical, chemical, and food manufacturing. We can also develop site-specific courses for your company's particular needs. Our training courses will minimise the time needed to train employees on chemicals in the workplace.

Chemical Safety Management Made Easy

Chemical safety management has many pain points, but with the use of EcoOnline, you can minimise the energy that is needed to manage chemicals. Our database will help you with SDS management, tracking hazard and storage information of chemicals, and training employees in chemical safety.


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Author Brandy Bossle

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