Having an organized inventory is the key for your overall chemical management initiatives and adherence to GHS compliance. You should have periodic inventories on what chemicals you have on the site, besides documenting where these chemicals are located, while making sure that accurate and up to date safety data (SDS) is in place.
The positive takeaways of it all are that you will not only establish a solid baseline for creating chemical approval and control procedures but also ensure SDS compliance. What is more, you can as well automate regulatory reporting that is efficient and accurate. Here are a few of the things you should try to go over with EHS managers before you begin an inventory.
Tidy up – Doing a bit of spring cleaning on the areas of keeping your inventory will ensure safety and enhance efficiency. You can as well dispose of unused or outdated chemicals beforehand.
Label and/or bar-code materials – All chemicals are labelled or use bar codes, if they’re available from your SDS or inventory management system, as labelled materials will speed up the inventory process and allow for the least disruptions of production lines or research activity.
Plan the work, work the plan –Set the date early and train the employees about the inventory process. Also, have a map of the facility and, if employing multiple teams to inventory, assign areas up front so there is no overlap or redundancy in effort.
Create chemical areas –Segregate the inventory by chemical areas, which is either the physical location or logical grouping of materials, such as “Store Room II-B,” but sometimes it is also by a logical department, such as “Maintenance.” If using logical areas, try to organize the individual physical locations within the department, such as “Maintenance — South Building.”
Be thorough- Instead of separating different areas such as chemical areas and cabinets, proceed in a planned, organized way. Be detailed — include the entire product name, manufacturer, product code, container, physical form, and quantities. Avoid moving misplaced material during the inventory. Always, make a note and move them to their allotted location later.
Audit as you go- Do engage a team for spot checks throughout the day, instead of checking after you are done.
This way, any issue in the inventory process or counts can be addressed while the chemical inventory teams are present. Using inventory software is always a better proposition.
Software Options – You have a handful of software options for your chemical inventory function. The advantages of utilizing software during the inventory are manifold. You can reconcile materials to the corresponding SDS quickly. The materials present can be electronically reconciled to your electronic SDS notebook. You can also centralize data across the facility and organization. Chemicals that are redundant across the facility are rolled up, organized by location, and require only one SDS that can be shared in the system. Reduce time for environmental reporting. Facilities that must produce Tier-II and Form R/SARA TRI reports will have the advantage of pre-populated chemicals according to chemical area.
Inventory Schedule – Develop a routine inventory schedule. Make the chemical inventory process annually. If this becomes cumbersome, you can hire a professional to perform the inventory, as they will have access to the best tools and techniques to get the job done most efficiently and relieve you and your team of the inventory rigmaroles. Getting a handle on your chemical inventory is the cornerstone of preparing for OSHA’s transition to HazCom, in which the agency has adopted provisions of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) into the U.S. Hazard Communication Standard. GHS is creating an avalanche of new and updated safety data sheets flowing through your supply chain as your suppliers must update their SDSs to meet the new requirements of the regulation.
If you have accurate inventory in place, then that will not only help you to have the correct safety data sheets for all of the materials present in your facility but also ensure that you don’t spend unnecessary time and money updating documents for materials that are no longer present.
Eventually, your updated safety data sheets will become the basis for your employee GHS training and new workplace labels for chemical containers, explaining the new hazard and precautionary statements, as well as pictograms that will be present on all new GHS labels. If you have the right combination of personnel, process, and technology, you can set a new standard in your chemical management efforts and ensure compliance under the new standards.