If you work in the chemical and process manufacturing industry, you know how important Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are to your business. They provide crucial information about the safety and handling of hazardous chemicals and help you stay compliant with government regulations.
Managing SDSs manually is not only time- and labor-intensive, it’s error-prone—threatening compliance along with workers’ and consumers’ health. Datacor’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system now comes with expanded SDS functionality to make this vital part of your business operations easier, more streamlined and reliably compliant.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What is safety data sheet software?
- Why is a SDS important?
- How does SDS software work?
- How SDS software keeps you compliant
What is safety data sheet software?
Safety data sheet software helps companies create and distribute required documentation on the properties, risks and safety precautions for handling, storing and transporting hazardous chemicals. An SDS must be created for each chemical to maintain compliance with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other international regulatory bodies.
Why is a SDS important?
When working with hazardous chemicals, it’s crucial that health and safety information be immediately accessible in case of an accident or spill; workers have no time to waste searching for first aid information. That’s why regulatory agencies require a SDS to be created for, and stored with, each hazardous chemical your company produces and/or distributes.
Each SDS should identify:
- What the chemical is.
- The health, safety and environmental hazards, such as burning skin, damaging eyes or contaminating water.
- How to contain and store the chemical to prevent these hazards.
- The response in case of an accident, such as pouring water on a spill or first aid information when treating a burn.
In 2015, OSHA revised its Hazardous Communication Standard (known as OSHA HazCom 2015) in an effort to create an international standard for SDSs in an increasingly globalized economy. Like the generally international symbols used at crosswalks and on restroom signs, the goal was to create consistent documentation for workers around the world who may not know how to handle chemicals that can pose serious risks.
This documentation is required every time you make and sell a new chemical compound. An SDS alerts people on how the product needs to be handled and treated, which comes with a lot of liability—if you tell someone to treat a fire with water, but water causes the fire to get worse, then your company could be held responsible for the negative consequences.
That’s why SDSs are so important to get right—and why these documents are so detailed. Each one is a 16-part document. What's more, organizations may not even know when they’re non-compliant, causing OSHA HazCom to be the second-most common violation after Fall Protection.
How does SDS software work?
There are a number of ways to manage the complicated SDS process: Some companies get their on-staff chemists to handle it; others outsource the whole thing to a third party. But the most efficient and affordable way is to use software, such as Datacor ERP, that’s specifically designed for chemical and process manufacturers.
Datacor ERP now has SDS authoring capabilities that can create an SDS for you using smart logic. The software looks at the formulation used to produce a product, identifying each ingredient down to the CAS number and providing critical information on each one.
For example, say you’re making a paint that contains pigments, binders, solvents and additives. . You’ll have to indicate whether these are raw materials or if the ingredients themselves are blends of different base chemicals, looking at the Chemical Abstract number (CAS number; a universal standard that defines base chemicals).
Once you break the formulation down to the requisite CAS numbers and know the percentage of each one, the software takes over, using logic to compare each chemical against standard industry databases, such as LOLI and Chemwatch. These international databases, organized by CAS number and country, tell you all the hazardous properties for each raw chemical in your formulation.
Armed with this information and the percentages in the finished product that you’ve supplied, the software crunches the numbers—helping you populate key sections of the SDS.
How SDS software keep you compliant?
SDS authoring software like Datacor ERP helps you stay compliant with OSHA HazCom 2015, keeping workers and customers safe while avoiding costly fines. This software does much of the work for you, not only ensuring accuracy, but saving time and effort, improving your bottom line.
Here are some of the key sections of the SDS that Datacor ERP helps you complete:
Section Two: Hazard(s) Identification
As the name implies, this section includes all of the hazardous information related to each chemical. It includes a pictogram—that international symbol we mentioned earlier—that tells you how dangerous the chemical is. Along with the pictogram are two codes:
- Precautionary codes (P codes, or P statements) list the health and safety measures to follow to minimize risk (i.e., “avoid breathing,” “wash skin thoroughly upon contact”).
- Hazard codes (H codes, or H statements) list the risks associated with the chemical (i.e., “harmful if swallowed,” “causes skin irritation”).
The pictogram, P codes, and H codes are all determined by comparing the CAS number against the government regulations set by HazCom 2012, known as the “Purple Book,” using the aforementioned international databases for verification.
Figuring all this out would require a lot of manual work, not to mention expertise on the regulations and a thorough understanding of all of the chemical calculations—but Datacor ERP’s SDS software does all of it for you. It automatically completes the fields in section two of your SDS, which can then simply be reviewed by a chemist.
Section Three: Composition/Information on Ingredients
This section contains information about each of the chemical ingredients, listing the percentage of each hazardous base chemical and its CAS number. For example, if a formulation contains 5% benzene, section three would list each constituent item in that compound. This section also includes trade secret claims.
Sections Four and Five: First Aid and Firefighting Measures
Here you will list important health and safety information, including: acute and delayed symptoms and effects of chemical exposure; required treatments; proper fire-extinguishing techniques and equipment; and chemical hazards in case of fire.
For the first aid and firefighting sections, Datacor ERP’s SDS authoring tool can help you save time and effort by creating a template for each of your company’s product lines. These templates allow you to select from drop-downs of common response measures, such as “consult a physician” or “rinse thoroughly if contact is made with eyes.” When you develop similar products, these templates can be largely repurposed across product lines.
Section Nine: Physical and Chemical Properties
This section lists each chemical’s characteristics, and includes information such as the boiling point and flash point. Here, the software can make calculations based on the ingredients listed and their properties.
Datacor ERP also helps create GHS-compliant labels (GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals: the framework OSHA uses to standardize the way chemical hazards are communicated across manufacturing and distribution organizations).
To remain compliant, these labels must go on every product once produced, even if it’s a small sample and whether or not you’re charging for it. Creating labels for each of these samples, especially in companies with a high product-formulation volume, can get expensive quickly when using manual methods, but Datacor ERP generates the corresponding label stickers automatically, including the proper pictogram and codes, every time you create an SDS.
Chemical and process manufacturing companies don’t have time to waste creating SDSs and labels manually. See how much better it can be with Datacor ERP’s SDS authoring capabilities and sign up for a free demo today.