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Chemicals’ Safety Data Sheet

Chemicals’ Safety Data Sheet

If the employee must use hazardous chemicals (corresponding icon on the chemical package) in their work, the employer must organize a corresponding training for the employee, including the introduction of the safety data that the manufacturer has presented about the dangerous chemical on the safety sheet. The package of the hazardous chemical also has some information about the properties and handling, but info on the package might not suffice to guarantee the safe handling of chemicals (e.g., the package is small and can have only a very limited amount of data).

The chemical’s safety data sheet (SDS) is a document for professional (specialist) use, containing sufficient information about the hazardous chemical for its’ safe handling, notifies about the potential hazards (side effects’ occurrence probability) on human health and environment, and must enable to apply necessary measures to protect the health and safety of the employees, and to protect the environment in the company. The safety data sheet is a means to forward information in the supply chain.

If the employer has purchased a hazardous chemical that is not accompanied with a safety data sheet, the employer must not give such chemical to the employee to use, as it is not known how to handle it safely and what are the possible health risks triggered by this chemical. The seller of the chemical is obliged to give the chemical’s safety data sheet to the purchaser. If the SDS is not offered, the buyer must ask for it. If the employer buys chemicals from outside of Estonia and the supplier cannot provide the SDS in Estonian, the employer must have the safety data sheet translated (the chemical may not be given to employees to use before the SDS has been translated).

The employer cannot buy personal protective equipment with the required protection properties without knowing the properties of the chemical. The chemical SDS must contain information which protective equipment to use when handling it, and what protection properties it must possess. For example, it must be noted what material gloves or what kind of glasses or respiratory protection must be worn when handling the chemical. When using gloves from a wrong material, the personal protective gear might not protect at all as the chemical can erode through the glove. When using the wrong kind of respiratory protection, the employee could still inhale the chemical. When working with a chemical that is extra irritating to the eyes, any protective glasses will not do – tight-fitting protective glasses are needed to prevent the chemical from getting into the eyes.

The SDS also contains data about health risks and first aid measures. If the SDS has a note that the chemical is extra irritating to the eyes, the workplace must be equipped with an eye shower (eye flushing bottle). When buying eye flushing bottles it must be considered for how long the eyes must be flushed. The SDS marks for how many minutes the eyes must be flushed, and this time must be followed. The SDS also contains information whether vomiting must be induced after the chemical was swallowed, or is this forbidden.

The chemical’s SDS also specifies the proper storage conditions and notes which other chemicals the contact with must be avoided.

In order to evaluate the risk of contact with a chemical hazard in the workplace risk assessment, it must be known which properties the chemicals have that the employees come in contact with – are they dangerous when inhaled, do they damage eyes or cause fatigue and dizziness to such extent that the exposed employee is unable to leave the room nor call help.

If the employee gets a health damage as a result of contact with some chemicals, the chemical’s SDS must be shown to the doctor so that they would know what caused the health disorder.

The safety data sheets of chemicals must be kept in easily found places (there is not much time to look for it – e.g., in the case of fire it must be known what are the suitable extinguishing measures or how to give first aid). During the working environment internal control it should be reviewed whether safety data sheets exist for all used hazardous chemicals, or whether some chemical has been exchanged but the new chemical does not have the SDS yet.

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