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Case Study – How One Company Improved Chemical Safety

Written by: Rob Hallsworth

Published on: 9 September 2020

Originally Published March 5, 2019

Imagine you are responsible for maintaining the paper copies of safety data sheets in a company with 150 people. This a soul sucking, thankless job that does not provide tangible benefits to anyone. It is hard to get motivated to start.

But what if your efforts actually made your workplace safer? Here is an example of what you could accomplish, based on the experiences of one company we have worked with.

The Paper Based Binder

The company originally had 175 SDSs in 20 dust covered binders in central locations. They were out of date, out of order, and missing pages. They had no idea of what hazards their people were being exposed to and there were no instructions on how to handle the products safely.

And not surprisingly – nobody was reading the information.

A Digital Transformation

Using Rillea's structured approach and digital technology, SDS RiskAssist, they transformed how their organization manages chemical safety.  

One-third of their sheets were redundant or no longer relevant as they only needed 118 chemicals. Each of their twenty different work areas identified what chemicals were being used. In doing so the safety officer realized that the average employee needed access to 17 data sheets. That is 10 percent of the data sheets in the old binder with its 175.

All the products with chemicals on the exposure regulations were identified and flagged to ensure all safety regulations were followed. The company added clear simple instructions to create a one-page summary which covers hazards and control measures for each product. These summaries are less than 100 words.

And finally employees can access the information on their phones or desktops. For those without electronic access they are provided the seventeen pages in a hardcopy format.

The Results

The average employee now accesses 17, 100-word summaries instead of 175 safety data sheets with 2,400 words each. That works out to less than 1% of the information they used to be asked to review.

The company chose to eliminate 9 hazardous products that were deemed too dangerous. Three of these had ingredients that are designated substances and one was a soap that was identified by the supplier with the hazard “suspected of causing cancer”. Prior to this work no one had any idea that this frequently used product was hazardous.

The benefits extended beyond safety with the reduction in the number of suppliers – for one product dropping from seven suppliers to one.

When the transition was finished, the employees were happy because they now clearly understand the hazards of the chemicals they use in the workplace, they know some hazardous products were eliminated for their protection and best of all, their mandatory WHMIS training time was cut in half and made more relevant.

Chemical Risk Management can be used to make dramatic improvements in chemical safety in any organization with the same or less effort than you are spending today complying with WHMIS.

I know. I have seen it!

This is the last of 6 blogs that talk about Chemical Risk Management.  The series covered the following topics:

1.            Chemical Risk Management – It’s More Than WHMIS

2.            Is Chemical Risk Management Important?

3.            Obstacles to Chemical Risk Management

4.            Simplify Chemical Risk Management

5.            Digital Technology and Chemical Risk Management

6.            Case Study - How 1 Company Improved Chemical Safety

If you have any questions on this blog or the series, please contact us. We'd be happy to chat about your chemical safety challenges.

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SDS RiskAssist an Ontario-based company that uses the power of technology to give employers control and understanding over the otherwise pervasive and worrisome use of chemicals. SDS RiskAssist enables workers to know why chemicals are being used, what their benefits and hazards are and how to use them safely! Workers can access this knowledge via mobile or desktop SafetySnaps™, from anywhere in the world. SDS RiskAssist is the winner for 5 years running, of Readers’ Choice Awards by Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine (2018-2022); the 2019 Innovation Guelph Startup of the Year Award; the 2019 Quinte Business Achievement Award (Trailblazer category) and The Ottawa Network’s 2020 Bootstrap Award (SaaS category). We support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, working with our clients to take action for a sustainable planet.