Chemicals are all around us - some more hazardous than others. Just ask Jan Harding, who was accidentally poisoned at a restaurant in Salt Lake City. Expecting to enjoy a nice cup of sweet tea during lunch, Jan instead was rushed to the hospital with burns to her oesophagus and mouth.
After police investigated the incident, they discovered that an employee had accidentally put lye in the tea instead of sugar. Both look similar and the lye was not correctly labelled on site. This dangerous chemical is extremely hazardous and is used as a cleaning agent for deep fryers.
The health and safety of all individuals is any employer’s number one responsibility, no matter the industry you work in. When working with numerous chemicals this is especially important. From gaining full visibility into all chemicals used on-site to keeping up-to-date safety data sheets, there are multiple challenges when it comes to keeping your people safe.
EcoOnline’s webinar From Risky to Rock Solid: Strategies for Next Level Chemical Safety, offers key recommendations and best practices to help elevate your approach to chemical safety. Our internal experts Nicola Barker, Vice President of Product for Chemicals, Alan O’Grady, Product Marketing Manager of Chemicals, and Arron Cox, Senior Product Specialist discussed a range of topics, including:
- Common health and safety challenges
- Legislation you should be aware of
- Key recommendations to strengthen your approach
- And much more!
Don’t have time to watch the on-demand recording? We’ve got you covered! Keep reading this blog to get a summary of what was mentioned during the webinar.
Common health and safety challenges
One of the biggest health and safety challenges employers and employees often face is knowing what chemicals are being used on site. This proved true for our webinar audience, with 28% stating they struggle to gain visibility into chemicals being used across the organization. This leads to the second common challenge, which is keeping your chemical inventory accurate with up-to-date safety data sheets, which 22% of our viewers agreed with.
Another common struggle is effective communication with people in the organization who are responsible for chemicals. Information siloes are often created when multiple departments, teams, and sites come into play. Conducting chemical risk assessments by location and job role is another challenge, as employers need to account for who is using the chemicals, what they are using them for, where they are using them and more.
Finally, staying up to date with all legislation and regulatory requirements is another common struggle. In addition to having the expertise or knowledge of such requirements, regulations can change quickly and staying on top of all these updates can lead to more time lost in front of the computer instead of out on the field.
If any of these challenges resonate with you, keep reading to find out how to effectively solve them for a winning chemical safety strategy.
Speaking of regulatory requirements, let’s take a closer look at some of the legislation you must comply with based on your location.
If you are in the United States, you must adhere to the:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (1910.1200) which states:
- Organizations must have a written hazard communication program with a list of hazardous chemicals, methods for informing employees about these chemicals and more.
- All chemicals must be properly labelled.
- Safety data sheets must be kept up to date and easily accessible by all.
- Employees must be informed and trained on proper chemical use, handling, and storage.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Tier II Reporting (some states may have their own specific reporting requirements) which states:
- Employers must submit safety data sheets or a list of hazardous chemicals on-site to your state’s Emergency Response Commission and fire department by March 1st of each year.
- Keep an accurate inventory so you can submit your annual report to the EPA if you fall within one of these categories:
- 200+ extremely hazardous substances.
- Gasoline and diesel fuel: You will need to submit a report if you have over 75,000 gallons of gasoline and/or 100,000 gallons of diesel if tanks are stored underground
- All other hazardous chemicals which don’t meet the above criteria must be reported if the organization is storing more than 10,000 pounds of that chemical on site.
If you are in Canada, you must adhere to Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) which states:
- Maintain accurate records of hazardous chemicals you have on site including information on how they are used, handled and stored.
- Identify hazards from chemical substances and determine which employees might be exposed.
- Keep your safety data sheets up to date and easily accessible.
- Develop health and safety procedures for emergency response, safe use, handling of chemicals, disposal, worker exposure, and more.
- Inform and train all employees who work with chemicals on how to do this safely.
Staying on top of all these requirements to create a safer worksite can be difficult, so take some time to listen to Alan O’Grady, EcoOnline’s Product Marketing Manager of Chemicals, in the following video as he shares his key recommendations on where to begin:
Best practices to address your challenges
One of the most effective ways you can address your chemical safety challenges is by switching from paper-based systems and Excel spreadsheets to a digital safety system. With all information digitized and centralized in one platform, you will gain complete transparency into all chemicals in all locations. This will also make communicating with your teams and distributing information simple. In a few simple clicks, you can make all your safety data sheets easily accessible and automatically notify key stakeholders.
Having a more effective chemical approval process can also help strengthen your approach. With a digital solution, you can better control your chemical inventory and make better decisions on chemicals being used. This will also make it simple to track all data, including the flow of chemical requests and approvals.
Watch our Senior Product Specialist, Arron Cox, as he demonstrates how this process is simplified within EcoOnline’s chemical management solution, Chemical Manager:
How EcoOnline's digital solution can help
And that’s just skimming the surface! Curious to learn more about EcoOnline’s Chemical Manager? This is a robust, digital chemical solution which can help you get to the next level of chemical safety. From safety data sheet management and streamlined chemical approval (seen above), to chemical reporting and digital QR codes for quick SDS access, we can help you stay on top of all compliance requirements and give you a more accurate view into the chemicals within your organization.
With over 25 years of experience in the health and safety space, EcoOnline is trusted by over 10,000 customers in over 90 industries. But don’t just take our word for it – check out what our customers think:
“The software is user friendly and there is no need for a chemical background to use it. The software can be used for chemical risk assessments and to initiate risk reduction actions. Check your chemical inventory list against a number of laws and regulations.” -Remy Hagnar, Senior Engineer, Abbott Diagnostics Technologies AS
“We have placed QR-codes across several locations, from everything from storage rooms to laboratories, making the information available instantly. Instead of spending the time looking for information, we can focus on our primary working tasks.” - Tore Havellen, Sustainability Advisor, Oslo University Hospital
“To get a better view of chemicals and maintain compliance within the region, you should get EcoOnline. It has helped us protect our teams and focus on our chemical safety approach.” - Svein Kampenes, Quality and HSE Manager, Ekornes
Ready to elevate your chemical approach?