Page 22 - OHS, May 2020
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Upping Your Industrial Hygiene and Chemical Management Game
Industrial hygiene is crucial for controlling chemical hazards by enacting deliberate and systematic protective measures.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is designed to protect against chem- ical-related workplace injuries and illnesses by ensuring employers and employees have
the necessary information to anticipate, recognize, evaluate and control chemical hazards. Industrial hy- giene (IH) is the art and science of controlling those hazards by enacting deliberate and systematic protec- tive measures.
For IH activities to be effective, the hazard infor- mation upon which they are based must be complete and accurate. In other words, a strong IH program relies on a strong program of chemical management. The challenge today, in both IH and chemical man- agement, is how to manage the flow and updating of information so the right people have the right infor- mation at the right time to take the necessary precau- tions and perform the right tasks. Under the HCS, a large volume of hazard information is primarily communicated to people through safety data sheets (SDSs), chemical container labels and training. How- ever, the IH tasks necessitated by that information are increasingly being handled by EHS professionals who lack experience in IH.
Luckily, this shifting landscape is occurring at the same time EHS software is providing more efficient methods for managing and accessing workplace haz- ards. Let’s take a closer look how software can help strengthen your IH and chemical management pro- grams by streamlining and improving key tasks.
Chemical Inventory & Ingredients Tracking
An accurate chemical inventory is foundational to ensuring you have all the necessary SDSs for the chemicals in your inventory, managing your work- place labels, and training your employees on chemi- cal hazards. What’s equally important, though, is having visibility into the ingredients of those chemi- cal products, and their specific hazards and regula- tory considerations.
Chemical management software can help you to easily track all your chemical containers at a compa- ny-, facility-, department- and storage-location level. Companies benefit most from software that provides a clear line of sight into their entire chemical footprint with simple-to-use drag-and-drop controls, which enable them to quickly identify and move their chem- ical inventory on an image map of their facility.
Most of today’s chemical management software solutions offer ingredient indexing tools—and/or in- gredient indexing services—to make tracking chemi-
cal ingredients across your entire product inventory easier and more accurate to manage. Some of the leading systems use sophisticated, regulatory, cross- referencing technology to automatically flag chemical products or hazardous ingredients that reach thresh- old limits according a wide variety of regulatory stan- dards. These solutions can provide even more value by eliminating time consuming processes by integrating with a built-in chemical and Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) database, a vital tool for setting up and maintaining an effective IH sampling program.
Maintaining Labels and SDSs
Under the HCS, employees are required to have ac- cess to chemical hazard information, and an easy way to create labels and track chemical containers. OSHA requires that SDSs for all hazardous chemicals in the workplace be made accessible to employees during work shifts. This has traditionally been accomplished by managing physical copies of SDSs in three-ring binders, but the more modern deployment of online software systems that electronically manages these documents has proven to be more efficient and cost effective over traditional paper-based spreadsheets and filing systems. Today, most software vendors store SDSs in a secure, cloud-based library—making them readily accessible to workers. The most highly utilized systems provide an online database of indexed, man- ufacturer-original documents versus rekeyed SDS documents for better accuracy and compliance assur- ance. Some even have on-staff certified authoring pro- fessionals that help you track down and obtain newly updated or missing SDSs and ensure they comply with all local, national and international guidelines.
Another significant benefit of chemical manage- ment software is the ability to create GHS-aligned labels that correspond with the information found on SDSs. Advanced systems use information indexed on the SDS to “replicate” the chemical’s shipped label for most container sizes.
Emergency Planning
When an emergency occurs, there’s little time to re- act, making it critical to have an accurate and robust emergency plan in place ahead of time. Effective emergency planning requires communication on sev- eral levels, most importantly between your company and local emergency responders.
While robust chemical management software streamlines chemical inventory and SDS access, some vendors have taken it a step further by giving you
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