7 Biggest SDS Compliance Violations in Chemical Manufacturing (And How to Reduce the Risk)

Not complying with the safety data sheet (SDS) regulations can cost chemical manufacturers in terms of fines, customers, and reputation. Knowing and avoiding the biggest SDS compliance violations is one of the best ways to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations

This article reveals the top seven SDS compliance violations to give you the best chance of preventing legal issues and protecting your brand image. And because meeting every requirement can be challenging for many chemical manufacturers, we will show you where to get a comprehensive SDS-compliant checklist to make things easy. 

OSHA requires distributors and manufacturers to provide an SDS for each hazardous chemical. As the bare minimum, the SDS should use a clear, user-friendly, 16-section format to inform downstream users about the substance. 

Each section should provide specific minimum information detailed in the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). The information must be in English, although copies in other languages can be provided if necessary. 

In 2011, OSHA penalized two manufacturers and two distributors of hair products for failing to inform users of the substance’s potential hazards and protect their employees from exposure. In fact, the total fine for the four companies totaled $49,200. 

Manufacturers are responsible for evaluating the risks related to a particular chemical and including the hazards in an SDS. Concerning communication of chemical hazards, the sheet should: 

  • Specify the concentration (exact percentages)—sometimes, concentration ranges may be used to protect trade secrets
  • Explain why the substance is hazardous
  • Indicate the chemical’s possible harm
  • List protective measures users should follow
  • Describe what users should do in an emergency

Having a static SDS may not always be enough to meet OSHA requirements, resulting in SDS compliance violations. In some instances, updates are necessary—and they must be made within a particular period to avoid noncompliance. 

According to OSHA, chemical manufacturers must ensure SDS information accurately details hazards and how to protect against them. But when your company discovers new potential harm of a particular chemical or identifies more effective ways to avoid the risks, the new details should be added to the SDS within three months

On the other hand, the chemical labels must be revised within six months, depending on the significance of the new information. In short, your company needs to update its SDSs in one or all of the circumstances below: 

  • The manufacturer makes significant changes to the chemical compound.
  • Research reveals considerable new information about a chemical’s potential harm or anti-hazard measures.

Improper handling and storage can cause toxic exposures, explosions, as well as fires from chemical reactions. That’s why OSHA requires manufacturers to include a safe handling and storage section in the SDS. 

Required information includes: 

Every employer must have a readily accessible SDS for employees in the workplace. To ensure chemical safety, information about the identities, as well as potential dangers of chemicals, must be readily available and understandable to workers. 

Manufacturers are also responsible for classifying chemical hazards and transmitting the information to employers through data sheets. An SDS must be provided in the initial shipment as well as the first shipment after a sheet update. Additionally, chemical manufacturers must provide the document to employers or distributors upon request. 

OSHA laws require SDSs to reveal a chemical’s ingredients. The required information includes the following: 

  • Chemical name, common name, and synonyms
  • Stabilizing additives and impurities
  • The exact percentage of each ingredient that is considered a health hazard
  • Whether these ingredients are present above their concentration limits
  • Whether the ingredients are present below concentration limits but are still a health risk

Your company can use concentration ranges if specifying the exact percentage exposes trade secrets. In that case, you must also include a statement indicating that the exact chemical concentration has been withheld. 

In addition to ingredient information, OSHA calls for the minimum information about the physical and chemical properties required in the SDS compliance checklist: 

  • Chemical appearance and odor
  • Freezing and melting point
  • Evaporation rate
  • Viscosity
  • Solubility
  • Boiling point and range
  • Flammability and pH
  • Vapor pressure and density
  • Explosive limits
  • Partition coefficient

You don’t need to include everything on the above list if a physical or chemical property doesn’t apply to your products. However, you need to ensure every property relevant to your company’s chemicals is sufficiently detailed in the SDS. You should also include other relevant properties not indicated on the list above.  

Not including exposure limits in your SDS can also result in expensive noncompliance penalties. An exposure control section in the sheet helps recommend personal protective measures and minimize user exposure to chemicals. Essential details to cover in this section include: 

  • Exposure limits from regulatory bodies, such as OSHA and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
  • Your recommended exposure limit as the chemical manufacturer
  • The necessary engineering controls
  • Advice for personal protective measures to prevent exposure to chemicals
  • Recommended personal protective equipment (PPE)

Manufacturers are required to obtain or create an SDS for every chemical they produce. Additionally, they must ensure a copy of that sheet is available for customers. 

The SDS compliance checklist form from GoCanvas is easily accessible from a smartphone or tablet. This also makes it easier for employers and employees to access safety data and handle chemical inventory appropriately. 

Because the checklist comes as an SDS-compliant template, you don’t have to create the sheet from scratch, which saves you money and time. In fact, once you create the document, it becomes mobile-accessible via smartphones and tablets to easily empower employers to create a hazard management program and enhance occupational safety. Request a demo today to see how our SDS compliance template helps you save time and money.

About GoCanvas

GoCanvas® is on a mission to simplify inspections and maximize compliance. Our intuitive platform takes care of the administrative tasks, freeing our customers to focus on what truly matters – safeguarding their people, protecting their equipment, and delivering exceptional quality to their customers. 

Since 2008, thousands of companies have chosen GoCanvas as their go-to partner for seamless field operations.

Check out even more resources

Manage Risk for Oil and Gas Companies With a Risk Assessment Checklist

Today, the challenges faced by the oil and gas industry are considerable. Effective business leaders and managers must thoroughly understand them to determine…

Solutions to Waste Management Issues For Oil & Gas Companies

Waste management compliance is important in every industry. The oil and gas industry, in particular, has a strong risk of waste emissions…

4 Ways Big Data is Transforming Oil and Gas

Oil and gas companies are getting smart about using the data they collect to gain insights and manage people, equipment, and worksites more effectively…

Connect with an Expert Today.

We’ll help you put together the right solution for your needs.