Safety data sheets (SDS) are essential for more than just chemical handling information; they also contain crucial information for environmental reporting. Properly managing, tracking, and revising them is critical to any facility or organization. Effective SDS management systems include practical ways of storing and accessing SDS, sharing SDS with clients, and using SDS for compliance and internal reporting.

    Many EHS professionals would be thrilled to automate any of the processes that they undertake by implementing the best SDS management software available. Having properly managed SDS has many organizational advantages, but ERA provides an extra benefit for leveraging your SDS in environmental reporting.

    Why Store SDS?

    SDS serves multiple functions for people in different departments. Floor employees know them as information sheets for chemical handling, but to EHS managers, they house important information about the chemical composition of their products which is essential in any environmental reporting. First, we will break down the different uses that floor employees and EHS managers have for Safety Data Sheets.

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    Why do floor employees need SDS?

    Safety information provided in SDS, such as first aid measures, flammability, firefighting measures, pictograms, and recommended PPE, is critical for floor employees. They can also be helpful in case of a chemical spill or direct exposure. Making sure they have this information readily available is a great way to promote a safety culture in your organization.

    The inconvenience of having to flip through a large binder when working with a particular chemical is time-consuming; therefore, having SDS management software cuts down this search time significantly.

    How do EHS Managers use SDS?

    The SDS's physical and chemical properties section is more valuable to an EHS professional. It consists of everything you need to know about the chemicals, including density, VOC, and HAP content, and these are useful for any environmental engineer. SDS also shows the chemical composition, percent weight and regulations associated with each chemical, all information that is required in EHS planning for your organization.

    SDS and Enhancing your Environmental Reporting

    You may wonder how the information above serves EHS professionals other than simply notifying them of chemical compositions. The properties mentioned above are useful in environmental reporting, a process that every facility and organization goes through frequently throughout the year.

    There are two types of environmental reports; compliance reporting, which covers the controlled substances you used or released as outlined in the operating permit for your facility, and general inventory-based environmental reporting for the EPA or other regulatory bodies to keep track of releases and chemicals for decision-making purposes such as Tier II (Note: Tier II reporting also counts as compliance reporting).

    Depending on your defined industry, chemicals used in your facilities are subject to many reports. You must know that many stages (data collection, regulated chemical determination, and emissions calculation) of your reporting process are affected by effectively managing SDS.

    Section three and nine of any SDS have the product's chemical composition and physical or chemical properties. In the data collection stage of your reporting process, SDS are applicable in providing the chemical composition of all your blends and mixtures; for example, "Super white" coating used in the automotive industry generally contains acetone (Cas no 67-64-1), toluene (Cas no 108-88-3), and many other chemicals. One would not be able to know this without looking at the SDS, and if this was not recorded, no one would know that the coating contains some VOCs and TRI-listed chemicals.

    The SDS is also useful in the regulated chemical determination stage courtesy of section fifteen of the SDS. Regulatory bodies are listed for your blends, including the specific components that are regulated. For example, in the case of the “super white” coating mentioned above, five of its ingredients are listed under section 313, and all the ingredients are listed under (Toxic Substances Control Act) TSCA. This simplifies the determination of associated regulatory information and saves time from compiling different spreadsheets associated with various regulations.

    Your emissions calculations phase of reporting can also benefit immensely from your SDS. With listed VOC content, vHAPS content, density and more, you can deduce if the product exceeds your chemical threshold. For example, if a product contains 90% of a TRI-listed chemical, and you use 100 tons of it in your processes during the year, then the percentage can be multiplied by usage (90% of 100 tons gives you 90 tons used) to determine if this exceeds the TRI threshold.

    You can also adopt SDS information for NESHAPs, MACTs, Ecofacts reports and many more. This one sheet can be used without re-entering composition and regulatory information.

    An SDS Management software that helps you with environmental reporting

    ERA’s SDS management software gives instant access to your SDS and centralizes all your chemical data improving SDS accessibility and access to automatic SDS updates and revision tracking. In addition to these standard SDS management features, because ERA is a trusted environmental reporting software, storing your SDS with ERA means you can seamlessly leverage the stored chemical properties for your environmental reporting.

    If you use ERA's SDS manager, you can take advantage of these records for your environmental data collection, and all you have to do is use either your purchase or usage records. The system does all calculations for you and produces a file compatible with the chosen report submission platform. Additionally, ERA provides an internally researched VOC chemical list. There is no government-provided VOC list such as the one for HAPs, therefore having this system allows automatic identification of VOCs without purchasing external VOC lists.

    Any compliance reporting software generally has a way of compiling information from your usage and purchase records to give you an estimate of your emissions. ERA’s environmental reporting software uses your source information, purchase, and usage records to deduce the values that should be reported, automating all the above mentioned steps so that they can be completed in just a few clicks.

    Schedule a consultation call with a project analyst below to learn more about ERA's SDS management and environmental reporting solution.

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    This blog was a collaborative effort between Erin Manitou (Environmental Expert and New Business Development & Marketing Manager at ERA) and Kundai Mufara (Science Content and Technical Writer at ERA).


    Erin Manitou
    Post by Erin Manitou
    July 28, 2022
    Erin assists businesses in improving and protecting their environmental, H&S, and sustainability management by implementing the ERA-EHS platform.