5 Reasons Why Managing Safety Data Sheets Electronically is Good for Business
Posted on October 2, 2013 | in Environmental Compliance
1. Saves Time
2. Saves Money
3. It’s Efficient
5. Risk Reduction
It would be easy to think that most companies choose to manage their safety data sheets (MSDSs and SDSs) electronically because they are concerned with OSHA compliance or the transition to GHS. However, the truth is, most companies choose electronic management because it makes business sense. In other words, they believe it has a positive net present value (NPV) and adds value to the firm.
Following, VelocityEHS looks at five key benefits customers report led them to electronic MSDS management.
1. Saves Time — Ask many people what their most valuable commodity is, and they will tell you time. This is especially true for safety professionals who depending upon their industry have myriad critical compliance tasks they are responsible for. As such, time spent doing menial tasks like looking through an MSDS binder to see what’s missing, then searching the internet for updated safety data sheets (or worse calling vendor after vendor to find updates), and when successful, standing at a copier making enough copies for every MSDS library in the facility is time wasted.
A good electronic system with a large database of safety data sheets makes finding MSDSs relatively quick and painless. Better yet, once a good management system knows what products a company has, updates to safety data sheet are actually pushed to the customer. A good system is also mobile enabled, providing real time access to the most important chemical information in realtime information you need on your tablet or handheld device.
2. Saves Money — Time is money, as the saying goes. Furthermore, people are resources. More specifically, the knowledge, training and skill a person has is a commodity to the employer. As such, it is a resource that needs to be managed.
Think about your own company, how much money is spent paying highly trained people to do unskilled tasks? For safety professionals, it is unavoidable that some of their time is going to be appropriated for menial tasks. However, the more time a company can have its skilled labor engaged on tasks that put the employee’s education, experience and acumen to use, the better payoff the company receives on its investment. Conversely, having valuable employees doing menial tasks, or even tasks that can be automated is a waste of money — it’s bad business.
3. It’s Efficient — And efficiency leads to better outcomes. In addition to saving time and money, which we’ve already covered, managing safety data sheets electronically helps to get things right the first time. It’s about reducing redundancies, providing easy, anywhere-access to information, and transparency across the organization. In fact, the whole concept of managing MSDSs online – in the cloud – is based on leveraging efficiency via “network effects.” With network effects the value of a service increases as more people us it. A company like VelocityEHS handles MSDS documents for thousands of customers at a time, all the while streamlining the process and incorporating best practices across accounts and industries.
Another benefit under the umbrella of efficiency is the fact that managing MSDSs electronically makes the information on the document available for other compliance tasks. If you manage MSDSs in three ring binders, their only utility are as a safety data sheets. If you manage them electronically, then you unlock utility that goes beyond the MSDS. For instance, managed correctly, your MSDSs can serve as a proxy for the chemicals in your facility, turning your account into a chemical management system that: tracks quantities and locations of chemicals across facilities; cross references chemicals against local, state and federal regulatory lists; and provides robust reporting on the lifecycle of the chemical. It’s business intelligence at its best – real time reporting on your chemical inventory with the click of a button.
4. Sustainability — Sustainability goes beyond being environmentally friendly. Which is not to say that managing safety data sheets and deploying them to employees electronically isn’t good for the environment, because it is. Rather, managing MSDSs electronically can help a company be more sustainable with a capital S — it can help green the chemical footprint of the organization and keep the most hazardous chemicals out of the supply chain to begin with. This is accomplished by tracking chemicals on an ingredient level, sending alerts and requiring permissions when an unauthorized chemical is trying to enter the facility.
Sustainability also ties into the efficiency argument. With electronic management, many routine actions related to chemical management like running certain reports or checking for updated documents can be automated…or at the very least, have settings in place that are retained from week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-over-year. In the age of automation, it makes no sense for safety professionals to have to repeat many compliance actions. Safety professionals should be able to use admin controls to set up preferences once and then make adjustments as necessary. Today, the issue is not just having the most skilled workers doing menial tasks; it’s that it’s a pattern that keeps repeating. Cloud-based MSDS management can help break the cycle and set the organization up for long-lasting success.
5. Risk Reduction — In business, risk comes in many forms. MSDS maintenance is required by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, and non-compliance can lead to fines and reputation damage. Worse, when things go wrong with chemicals in the workplace, as we have seen in the news time and again, the consequences can be devastating — from explosions that wipe out entire communities to environmental repercussions that last for generations. Luckily good chemical and MSDS management help mitigate many of the biggests risks to employees, the community and a company’s bottom line.
Employees with proper training and access to critical safety information are able to make better decisions thereby greatly reducing risk for all stakeholders. Safer workplaces leads to lower insurance rates and fewer workers compensation claims. Moreover; many studies have found that money spent on safety initiatives provides a positive ROI at a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio.
There you have it, five reasons good safety data sheet management is smart business. To learn more about all the ways VelocityEHS can help you get on the right track, talk to one of our compliance experts today, toll free at 1.888.362.2007 or visit us online at www.ehs.com.