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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

SDS Automation - How to Meet Your Deadlines

Posted by Lorcan Archer

Lorcan Archer is ERA Environmental's Content & Technical Writer.

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Automation is a buzzword that’s been in constant use across numerous industries in recent years, especially in manufacturing. It’s being discussed as a technology that will continue to revolutionize our economies by introducing reliable computer-based solutions for repetitive tasks.

In the context of Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Authoring for hazardous goods and chemicals, automation refers to software rapidly carrying out the completion of logic processes required for creating SDSs. This largely consists of cutting out any aspect of redundancy and logically resolving decisions within the authoring process. Correctly implemented, this will deliver an error-free document more rapidly and efficiently.

Automation’s application to SDS Authoring in the form of smarter software is already a proven benefit to many companies. It saves time, money, and is more accurate due to the elimination of human errors.

This article will outline the business benefits that automating SDS authoring can deliver at your business. You might be surprised at the number of areas where positive changes can be observed.

Guaranteed Contents

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The need to have clarity on exactly what is contained in your chemical mixtures, and the legality and regulatory restrictions applicable to each mix, is a must in any chemical production environment.  

Sometimes, the listed contents can be less than forthcoming about the exact nature of the chemical goods that you have purchased or imported. This can be through rough percentages, or through generic titles that don’t give a breakdown of what the mixture really contains.  

This presents a serious issue when a substance is re-classified. If you supplier hasn’t even listed this substance on the container – how are you to know that you have potentially transitioned into non-compliance overnight?

These difficulties can be overcome through an informed, automated production process. By ensuring a healthy supplier / vendor partnership, your SDS authoring solution can pull the exact mix information directly from the organisation that created the mixture.

This means that your SDS Authoring process will be able to ensure accuracy in both:

  • The actual chemical nature of any purchased mixture.
  • The legal classification of your contents, up-to-date as of today.

Both of these points are significant because they essentially outsource the legal verification of the chemical mixture back to the supplier. While any further use or combination of the chemicals will need scientific oversight to make sure that EH&S regulations are being respected, the true nature of the supplied goods you need for your operations are far more locked-down in this scenario.

The joy of automation is that this verification can be carried out instantly, and with no work on the part of your facility’s staff. Upon production, the automated software will access the up-to-date database maintained on a daily basis by the supplier, utilizing the very latest data in the production of your SDS documentation.  

At ERA, we’ve developed an extensive partnership program that includes the biggest names in paint, coatings and chemical producers. This program ensures that the exact composition and product specification for each supplied product is already pre-programmed into your SDS solution when any specific SDS is selected for production.

Contributing to Better Coordination

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The task of both assembling and composing your Safety Data Sheet documents can be a significant burden on a company’s EH&S staff – but it often comes bundled with a storage and access requirement.

Indeed, composing and creating your SDSs requires running and operating a veritable library of documents, with a need to access previously created documents and the constant task of composing and adding new ones.

This places the need to actually organize and catalogue squarely upon the organisation. Without a properly maintained library, it won’t take long for confusion and errors to overtake your authoring process.

The best SDS Authoring solutions will also provide a system that can seamlessly manage your produced SDSs. ERA provide an SDS Management solution that works seamlessly alongside our Authoring solution – giving you a simple overview and search function that can quickly provide access to an automatically maintained database of every SDS you need.

When the clock is ticking, you don’t want to waste precious time searching through folders or trying to differentiate one chemical SDS from another. This improved approach bears fruit when your SDS library grows to one containing hundreds, or even thousands of SDS types.

This aspect of your overall SDS production will allow you the easy access you need to exactly the document you need.

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On any given occasion, a business can need to access hundreds, if not thousands of different chemicals on a regular basis. Keeping track of the exact legal classification of every single chemical can be a considerable burden.

When the time to produce rolls around, and your organisation needs to swiftly produce SDSs, the task can suddenly become more complicated.

This is because chemicals and chemical mixtures need to be viewed and assessing in relation to each other, rather than solely on an individual basis. The possibility of unintended chemical reactions and safety hazards are considerable if this is not borne in mind.

An automated solution will allow your business to both select the required chemicals, and instantly and accurately assess the safety ramifications of your selected combination; ensuring that the requisite warning labels and hazard signage are produced in your SDS documentation.

Keeping track of the regulatory status of every possible chemical used in your processes is simply untenable for most organisations. Incorporating a Master Chemical List in your SDS Authoring, such as the one offered by ERA which contains more than 100,000 fully updated chemicals, justifies itself by offering the latest information on every chemical before your need to access this substance ever arises.  

Complying with the GHS

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By this point in time, companies based in both the United States and Canada will be well aware of the importance of GHS compliance. This system has now been fully embraced by both countries, and there is expectation that the tenants of the system will be present on your produced documentation.

However, many companies will have been doing just fine with their older, MSDS-based models, thank you very much. The prospect of moving in line with GHS requirements raises the prospect of having to identify new symbols, safety images and documentation formats, as well as training new and current staff on the best way to apply these across all produced documents, including SDSs.

The easy way to progress past these issues is to engage an automated software solution that will apply the required format and symbols right onto the SDS documents. Once staff have gotten used to the simple and intuitive dashboard, the production of GHS compliant documentation will become naturally engrained in your authoring process.  

In this regard, rapid production of safety documentation can be carried out at your facility, without the need for the GHS’s requirements to even be considered. They will be at the core of your authoring.

Conclusion

The points listed above and just some of the ways in which automation can ease the burden on your EH&S staff, especially when production delays are just unacceptable. By instantly verifying the compliance aspects of your SDS Authoring, a far more accurate bank of documents can be easily produced.  

Ultimately, the utilization of an automated solution will allow for a smoother, swifter and far more complete authoring process, which can be held to both national and international standards. A comprehensive solution will ensure that a rapid production cycle will not have any issues that arise from the documentation side – as all labels and documents are comprehensively kept in compliance.

For more information on how ERA can help you meet your production deadlines, including making sure any GHS requirements in your authoring are fully met, download the free PDF eBook below. For any questions, or to enjoy a free demo of ERA’s authoring capabilities, please email us via info@era-ehs.com.

The Upcoming GHS Transition - Free eBook

Topics: SDS Authoring, GHS