With the use of caustic and other dangerous chemicals in healthcare facilities, it’s imperative your staff can readily access the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) to reference handling precautions, proper personal protective equipment and procedures for spills and exposures. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)) requires that the employer provides SDSs for each hazardous chemical to users to communicate information on these hazards. Employers must ensure that the SDSs are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This may be accomplished by keeping the SDSs in a binder or on computers as long as the employees have immediate access to the information without leaving their work area when needed and a back-up is available for rapid access to the SDS in the case of a power outage or other emergency.
Recent observations from our consultant team members have shown that a number of organizations are not providing the SDSs in a readily accessible manner. For example, an EVS staff member was asked where they could retrieve an SDS for a specific chemical on their cart. They replied that they were kept in their supervisor’s office in the basement of the facility which required an extended amount of time to reach and it was behind a locked office door. It was recommended that hardcopy SDS binders were kept in strategic locations where exposures would likely occur. This would also necessitate that periodic review of the SDSs was conducted to update them.
Additionally, an EVS staff member used English as a second language and spoke predominantly Spanish. The SDSs were in English which is an OSHA requirement; however, they are available in other languages. Organizations should determine if their employees would need SDSs in other languages or have a means to support safe hazardous chemical handling for these individuals.
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Courtemanche & Associates specializes in Healthcare Accreditation and Regulatory Compliance Consulting Services. With over 29 years of being in business and 100+ years of healthcare experience amongst our consulting team, we are ready to assist with your accreditation and regulatory compliance needs.
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