Skip to main content

While all companies should periodically review, revise, and update their safety data sheet database, most don’t – that is, until a workplace incident is documented and OSHA takes the time to also review their HazCom paperwork. But by then, it’s too late.

Changes should, of course, be made to SDS databases as necessary as new hazard information is found, new information about protective measures is ascertained, or changes are made to product information, such as composition or use.

And while OSHA’s hazard communication standard doesn’t clearly define what significant information is, it’s generally assumed that it includes the change of classification, new hazards, new occupational exposure limits, and new risk management measures.

Maintaining an updated SDS database isn’t necessarily difficult, yet many companies struggle with compliance, with HazCom violations ranking No. 2 on OSHA’s list of the most cited violations.

A HazCom Refresher


The HazCom standard requires employers with workers exposed to hazardous chemicals to:

  • Maintain a written HazCom plan
  • Have a written list of the chemicals present in the facility
  • Properly label chemicals in the workplace
  • Maintain safety data sheets and make them available to employees
  • Train workers on the standard and the specific chemical hazards to which they are exposed
  • All these steps can feel like a real headache for many employers

Tips to Keep Your SDS Database Compliant


And since compliance is expected to remain on OSHA’s radar with HazCom violations consistently ranking at the top of its list every fiscal year, it recommends that employers implement an effective hazard communication program by following these six steps:

  1. Learn the standard and identify responsible staff for particular activities such as training. Make sure someone has primary responsibility for coordinating implementation.
  2. Prepare and implement a written hazard communication program. Your program should detail how hazard communication will be addressed at your site. You’ll need to prepare a list or inventory of all hazardous chemicals. The program must specify your procedures for labeling, maintaining SDSs, and providing employee information.
  3. Ensure that containers are labeled. Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to provide labels on shipped containers with a product identifier, signal word, pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statement, and contact information for the responsible party. If you use an in-house labeling system for
  4. Maintain safety data sheets. Sheets are required for each hazardous chemical in the workplace, and they must be accessible to employees. If you do not receive an SDS from your supplier automatically, you are required to request one. If you choose to supply SDSs electronically, OSHA requires an adequate backup system in the event of a power failure, equipment failure, or emergency.
  5. Inform and train employees. Employers must train employees on the hazardous chemicals in their work area before their initial assignment, and when new hazards are introduced. The training must be in a language and vocabulary employees can understand. Workers must be aware of protective measures available at the worksite.
  6. Evaluate and reassess. Revise your program to address changed conditions, such as new chemicals and new hazards. OSHA requires that your HazCom program remain current and relevant.

A Compliance Partner That Works For You

At GSM, we are constantly communicating with manufacturers to ensure SDS databases are always updated with our own standard and sourcing process for compliance. As your compliance partner, you can rest assured knowing that we are making compliance a top priority so you can focus on your business.

Schedule a free demo to see how GSM can help you today!