GHS (Globally Harmonized System) compliance is all about transitioning your business from MSDS to SDS (Safety Data Sheets). Because this can be difficult to accomplish we've prepped this simple timeline you can implement in your workplace. You start following this five-step GHS timeline today. Finding the right tool and getting the work done may be your most important steps, but we can guarantee they won’t be your most time-consuming.
- Assemble Your Decision Makers
If you manage an EH&S department — or if you are the EH&S department — at your chemical manufacturing organization, you’re already familiar with what’s required for GHS and OSHA HCS compliance. You may even be eyeing your calendar, and wondering how it’s all going to get done. If you haven’t done so already, gather company stakeholders and decision makers. Be sure everyone understands the consequences of noncompliance. Executives will likely want to analyze the business case against manual SDS authoring/management before proceeding to the next stage of the conversation.
- Audit Your Hazardous Material Inventory
For some companies, this is just a matter of fact-checking and updating. For those who lack an organized internal database, it may be the longest step in the process. You’ll want to chart:
- the data source(s) for all existing safety data sheets or material safety data sheets
- the accuracy and comprehensiveness of all SDS information
- any formulation changes since a particular SDS was last updated
- raw materials or product blends that lack safety data altogether
If you don’t have accurate records for your inventory, find an experienced SDS compliance partner who can help you track, analyze, and audit the materials in your facilities. (More on finding world-class compliance partners below…) It’s essential that you prepare for this step now.
- Compare SDS Management Solutions
If you’ve visited our site before, you know we’ve written extensively on the drawbacks of manually authoring and managing chemical safety data. In the current landscape, you need a digital solution in place to maintain a responsible safety data program in the long run.
Look for these key elements when comparing prospective SDS authoring/management solutions:
- The ability to author all the types of hazard communication docs you need (GHS-SDS, MSDS, CPDS, and TDS) — including chemical labels
- The ability to store/track product revisions
- Automated vendor updates, regulatory and expiry alerts
- Comprehensive support services, provided by qualified experts
- The ability to track your chemical inventory going forward — including purchase date, stock date, etc.
- A mobile app for instant, any-time safety data access
It’s also a good idea to request at least a few platform demonstrations.
- Secure Buy-In
Even though the imperative behind a timely GHS transition is clear to safety professionals, it can still be a challenge to secure executive buy-in and to move your recommendations through a corporate purchasing cycle. We offer two suggestions: first, we have compiled an executive resource, outlining business risks and opportunities associated timely GHS compliance.
When it comes to getting executives on board, the best general advice is to make sure you stay focused on the bottom-line risk and rewards your project addresses and aims for: putting your EH&S project into terms and metrics executives understand will fast track the process. We strongly encourage you to download and read the GHS business risks and opportunities ebook available here and read it yourself before bringing anything up with your executives.
- Get to Work
How much time, once your SDS platform is implemented, will it take to do all the reclassification and authoring work? Not as long as you think. Assuming you know your chemical recipes, an entire facility’s data sheets can be authored in a matter of hours.
It's worth planning for implementation timelines in this step as well. If you're left to implement and figure out your new SDS authoring software on your own, implementation might eat into your resources and available time. Make sure whatever SDS software you choose comes with implementation assistance and training.
It's possible to author a complete SDS in just minutes. However, if you don't have accurate data to begin with, or your data needs an additional review before you can begin authoring, you may need a few extra weeks. That's why it's important to assess your current data needs and at step 2, early enough in the process to avoid delays.
Contact our team any time, to discuss your company’s readiness level and ideal next steps for your GHS timeline.