Did you know that the global chemical industry is worth an estimated $4.25 trillion? Chemicals have an important part of our lives, from the fertilizers for the agriculture industry to the chlorine used in pools.
However, it’s important to remember that these chemicals can be dangerous. This is especially true if they come with unclear handling instructions. As such, safety data sheets must be completed properly.
Unfortunately, suppliers often make lots of mistakes when completing these OSHA documents. That’s why we made this article of common mistakes people make when they fill out an SDS. Let’s get started!
Seven Common Mistakes Associated With Safety Data Sheets
The information you record on your safety data sheet determines the procedure for how workers will use your chemical. These documents also inform anyone handling the chemical of potential hazards.
As such, mistakes in the SDS’s you make can endanger these individuals’ lives. Before you begin filling out your safety datasheet make sure you memorize these seven mistakes that new suppliers often make. That way you don’t run into any violations.
1. You’re Not Responsible for the Safety Data Sheet Because You Didn’t Make It
Many people think because they didn’t write a safety data sheet that they aren’t responsible for it. Wrong. Any supplier of the chemical is held responsible for distributing an SDS. Think you’re not a supplier?
According to the Hazard Communication Standards, a supplier is anyone on the supply chain. So when you give out a safety data sheet, then you’re responsible for what’s written on it.
This is especially important when you sell your chemical. Make sure that the SDS you’re distributing is accurate. Or else you, and everyone else involved in distributing it will be held responsible.
2. A Safety Data Sheet Is Only for Chemical Inspection
Often individuals think that an SDS is intended only for regulatory bodies that inspect the chemical. In actuality, anyone who uses the chemical requires a safety data sheet.
This means that a wide variety of individuals will read your SDS — engineers, doctors, transporters. People using the chemical in a professional setting should pay close attention to section eight.
This details the protective measures you will need when using. Those transporting the material will need to read section fourteen of the SDS. Check out this guide if you want to learn more about all 16 of the SDS sections.
3. Thinking Safety Data Sheets Don’t Need Updating
It’s a serious mistake to think that an SDS remains static and permanent once you finish it. So what can cause safety data sheets to require updating? The most simple reason is a change in the product’s composition.
Imagine a cleaning company using a different chemical substitute that’s cheaper than the chemical they currently use. Their new product will require a new SDS. However, updates can also be dependent on the chemical itself.
For example, if an ingredient is found to be more hazardous than previously documented, then the SDS will need to be updated.
Finally, the last factor is a change in government legislation. For example, there are new changes to SDS and labeling procedures under the new legislation.
4. Incorrect Translations or Rewrite Errors Are Fine
It’s okay if there are minor translation errors when you sell a chemical product in a different country, right? Wrong. The safety data sheet needs to be clear and useful. As such, serious translation errors will confuse and possibly harm people.
The best of intentions don’t excuse a poor translation. You need to know its contents and be able to ensure that they will provide the information users need.
The same goes for any rewrites that occur with an SDS. Rewrites are important when the status of chemical changes to more or less hazardous than previously known.
5. The Numerical Ratings Don’t Matter
It’s important to remember that OSHA SDS’s numerical ratings are different from the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) system. With the NFPA system, the higher the number, the more hazardous the material.
The opposite is true for the safety data sheets. In OSHA’s system, one would represent the most hazardous material. Meanwhile, four or five would be more accessible and less dangerous.
This can confuse many newcomers. Unfortunately, there aren’t many manufacturers that can do since they come from two different organizations.
6. Everything on a Safety Data Sheet is Confidential
Believing everything listed on an SDS will remain secret is a beginner’s mistake. The only time you can conceal information is if the chemical listed in your product makes up less than 0.1% or 1% of its composition.
And even this depends on the chemical. As such, it’s not worth it to try to hide information from the public with an SDS.
You can find out more about the ingredient section of the safety data sheet in Section 3 (Composition/information on ingredients) of the SDS.
7. Product Labels Don’t Need to Correspond to the Safety Data Sheet
Some clients think that because the label on the chemical product has nothing to do with the SDS because it contains marketing material. Unfortunately, this is simply untrue.
In content found on the label of the chemical product must correspond to the safety data sheet.
For example, legal statements like hazard warnings must be in plain sight. If your product requires hazardous pictograms, then make sure they’re colored. Black and white pictograms won’t cut.
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We hope this article helped you avoid some of the common safety data sheets mistakes people make. As long as you follow the advice on this list, you’ll properly label SDS for public use.
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