Whether verbal, written, or physically conveyed, communications are a vital part of any organization, and are especially important when it comes to workplace safety hazards. Inability to establish effective hazard communications at work can result in serious incidents and injuries. With OSHA’s recently updated Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) meant to prevent such incidents and injuries, companies nationwide are working to bridge any gaps in hazard communication.
Prior to the United Nations’ adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in 2003, hazard communications were becoming lost in translation during the import and export process, as certain labels and safety data sheets (SDS) differed from country to country. Any miscommunication at this level jeopardizes workers, communities and their surroundings worldwide. The United Nations needed to adopt a globally harmonized system in order to establish consistent information for chemicals crossing borders, improving global communications and minimizing safety risks.
In June 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration modified their HCS to align with the United Nations’ GHS, impacting an estimated 40 million workers in more than 5 million workplaces across the United States, with roughly 50 percent of environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals failing to meet the new GHS standard, according to industry publication EHS Today. Needless to say, this new modification left companies scrambling to meet compliance. Companies cited some of the main challenges to reaching GHS compliance were obtaining updated SDSs from vendors and finding a sufficient GHS labelling solution, according to Actio’s GHS Readiness survey.
So, what is the solution to these compliance challenges presented by the great intentions of GHS? Some companies are using this era of heightened Hazcom focus to implement a digitized SDS System. Gensuite takes SDS Management seriously and 2016 has been a year of making focused improvements to meet changing program requirements. We’ve learned about the changes to the standards and have made system modifications to offer GHS hazard classifications and labelling, turnkey SDS version maintenance, multi-lingual enabled SDS search interfaces, chemical approval workflows, and constituent reporting and analysis. With thousands of users across our subscriber group using the Gensuite SDS System every day and an extensive inventory of up-to- SDSs, companies have a proven and reliable system to smooth the GHS-compliance transition. The Gensuite SDS System gives you instant access to a centralized repository of 190,000 up-to-date SDSs and 13,000 Globally Harmonized (GHS) SDSs.
A number of companies making the GHS transition chose to invest in a digital system to keep track of communications and compliance. SDS systems are beneficial for a variety of reasons, including saving time and money and creating better sustainability initiatives within a company. The risk of fines or penalties for violating these new OSHA standards is real but when you consider the risk for serious incident or injury resulting from poorly communicated hazards GHS compliance is a no-brainer. You are not alone in your focus on achieving GHS compliance, Gensuite (and other great solution providers) can help!