August 01, 2018

OSHA Compliance: Safety Data Sheets

The Scoop on Safety Data Sheets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) to anyone who uses their hazardous chemicals, including health care organizations. The purpose of SDSs is to communicate comprehensive information about the material and its hazards, such as:

  • The properties of the chemical

  • The chemical’s physical, health and environmental health hazards

  • Any protective measures and safety precautions for handling, storing and transporting the chemical

To ensure full transparency and ease of use for those who handle hazardous chemicals, OSHA requires SDSs to include 16 different sections that delve into various aspects of the substance.

Tips for SDS Compliance

Health care organizations must be sure they can quickly access the most up-to-date SDSs for the hazardous chemicals they use and store. Here are a few key strategies for ensuring compliance.

1.    Acknowledge What You Have. The first step is to understand what hazardous chemicals your organization has onsite. The best way to determine this is to conduct a room-by-room inventory and list all the chemicals present. Once you have a detailed list, you can then check that you have all the required SDSs available. 

2.    Make Sure You Have the Most Current Information. Chemical manufacturers are required to supply an SDS with new chemical orders and the first time a chemical is delivered after there has been a change to the SDS. Staff should be aware that when a new SDS arrives, they must compare it to the existing one to determine what has changed. The organization should also have processes in place to broadly communicate any new information to staff.

3.    Incorporate SDS Requirements into Staff Training. Organizations should regularly train staff about SDS regulations and what the requirements are. This should be a part of new staff orientation as well as annual refresher training. Incorporating this information into a comprehensive overview of OSHA may be beneficial to make sure staff understands all that the agency requires. 

4.    Work With a Knowledgeable SDS Partner. Although organizations can store SDSs on their premises, they can also work with an outside partner like Stericycle to keep the information offsite. We retain the most current SDS on file and staff can easily access them at any time through We can also provide training to ensure your staff is up to speed on what’s required and what’s new. By relying on our expertise, organizations can rest assured they are in compliance and focus their attention on other areas like providing the best possible patient care. 

For more information about how Stericycle can help ensure SDS compliance.

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