Electronic Safety Data Sheets or SDS produced and managed with SDS software provides an easier and more effective way of managing these important records. SDS online or onsite software management is more convenient than trying to manage hard copies of many safety data sheets in the locations where they are most needed. Yet to comply with OSHA’s safety and distribution rules, the main stipulation is that this information be accessible to anyone who needs it at any time.
OSHA Rules on SDS Compliance
The purpose of Safety Data Sheets or SDS is to provide accessible safety information to those who need it most, when and where they need it to be available. In consideration of this, OSHA does not actually regulate how these forms be made available, insisting only that they are accessible by employees on an as-needed basis, without restriction.
A company may choose its own method of management, whether that is to file hard copies of all data sheets and manually manage any updates, or use SDS software that allows these sheets to be easily printed. As long as the sheets are accessible, continually updated as necessary, and can be printed as a hard copy if requested, a company is considered to be in compliance.
Compliant Management of Electronic SDS
Many companies today may choose to use SDS software or an SDS online database to manage their safety data sheets. The primary concerns are that the information is always available onsite and readily accessible to employees. If this information is available online, employees must be able to access a computer at the workplace from which they can view and print out these sheets as needed, without any barrier preventing them from doing so.
According to OSHA, barriers could include restrictions to computer or network access during the work shift, having to request permission to look up safety information, or anything else that may prevent an employee from quickly retrieving this information as needed.
Backup Systems for When Technology Fails
Online databases make managing safety data sheets easy and convenient; however, systems may not be accessible due to IT issues or the interruption of electrical service. When setting up an SDS management system, a company must consider this possibility and have a backup system in place to access current safety data. This can be in the form of a hard copy of all sheets that is kept on site, a backup of the database to CD-ROMs or other portable media that can be accessed by a working computer or laptop, and faxing to customers when email is not available.
Again, compliance depends upon safety information being available at all times, on demand, regardless of whether there is database trouble or a loss of power. Compliance demands that any employee be able to find the information they need at any time.
SDS software and SDS online access offers companies many benefits for thorough and accurate management of safety data sheets. When properly used, these solutions allow a company to be in compliance with OSHA’s SDS rules. This includes providing unrestricted employee access to a computer that has necessary software, the ability to download and print sheets as needed, and a backup copy of all sheets that is available in the event that electronic access is not available.