Hazard Communication…it always shows up on OSHA's "Top 10" list of violations. Gee, I wonder why! Do you know of any company who has an MSDS sheet for every single chemical in their building or on their jobsite? Okay…raise your hand if your company has the MSDS for white out! (Guilty as charged!) Or how about that fancy 8-pack of colored highlighters that your co-worker has on his/her desk? Well, how about one for the emissions from the truck that backs up to your loading dock? (I didn't think so!) All are chemicals that have some sort of inherent danger if ingested accidentally or used in some other moronic way! Is anyone EVER fully compliant with this OSHA standard?
So what is the appropriate attitude and action a company should take? It is obvious that "letter of the law" will not happen, even by companies with the best intentions. I say, "Major on the majors!" Do your best to be compliant with the OSHA regulation, but put the focus on chemicals that are most likely to cause harm. Take a walk around your facility. Do you see commonly used items such as paint thinner, amonia, or other chemicals that could easily come in contact with skin or be accidentally ingested? Also, keep in mind that chemicals come in more than liquid form. The exhaust from a vehicle truly does pose a potential hazard when it contaminates the air you breathe! Commit to obtain MSDS for these chemicals. (There are various places – such as this one – you can get MSDS, but perhaps the best resource is the manufacturer of the product. They are required by law to develop an MSDS for their products.)
Finally, the easiest way to manage MSDS is to implement a procedure within your shipping/receiving department whereby someone is responsible for checking to see that MSDS sheets are supplied with every product containing chemicals that is received. If not, that person should contact the manufacturer immediately for a copy of the MSDS (before that product leaves the shipping/receiving area).
Hazard Communication…it's enough to give anyone a headache! Just thinking about it is hazardous!