Safety First Blog

Are Safety Data Sheets Up-to-Date, Available AND Being Used?

Posted by Laura Paxton on Jul 26, 2022 10:32:57 AM
Laura Paxton
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You can bet that the Joint Commission will be checking. We understand that locating, storing and communicating the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) is a laborious job. What if SDS were located on a central platform and, wait for it … were automatically available? It’s possible. 

But first, as we wrap up our series expanding on our most popular blog in 2021 - “From Our Customers: The Top 8 Questions To Expect In Joint Commission Inspections” let’s talk SDS, the important role they plan in keeping healthcare workers safe and in complying with USP <800>, what they cover, how to make it easier and more efficient to get the SDS you need and properly communicate the vital information they contain. 

Let’s Start at the Beginning

Previously known as the Medical Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), SDS provide vitally important written or printed information that explains how to properly ship, handle and store hazardous chemicals. The format and content of the SDS originated from 29 CFR 1910.1200, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard of 1986. The MSDS database launched with more than 450 safety data sheets for 275 principal ingredients contained in drugs produced by more than 40 manufacturers. 

In 2015, “MSDS” became “SDS” and the format and content were updated to be consistent with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Also, in December 2015, OSHA began requiring facilities to make SDS available for hazardous drugs if employees may be exposed to the hazardous chemicals in those products.  Specifically, they also must be available to each healthcare worker on each shift and in every workspace, and healthcare facilities must comply with all the safety instructions detailed in the sheets and on the new product labels.

What Information Must be in SDS?

SDS must be presented in a 16-section format and at least be available in English, but they may be available in other languages, according to OSHA. 

Sections 1-3 share information about the chemical such as identification of the chemical, its recommended uses and the contact information of the manufacturer. The hazards and warnings associated with the chemical are outlined in Section 2. In Section 3, the chemical ingredients are listed as well as the information on substances, mixtures, and all chemicals where a trade secret is claimed. 

Sections 4-6 include directions should exposure or an accident occur. Section 4 is extremely important as it provides first aid instructions if someone is exposed to the chemical. Likewise, Section 5 gives instructions for putting out a fire that involves the chemical. Next, Section 6 outlines the appropriate response to spills, leaks, or releases, including specific instructions for small vs. large incidents and the containment and cleanup practices to prevent or minimize exposure to people, properties, or the environment. 

The safe handling and storage specifics are included in Section 7. PPE, exposure limits and engineering controls necessary to minimize worker exposure are included in Section 8. All of the physical attributes of the chemical including appearance, odor, color, melting point and more are included in Section 9. Section 10 is broken down into three sections covering the chemical’s reactivity, chemical stability and other reaction information such as conditions that should be avoided, incompatible materials, etc. Whether or not the route exposure offers and the effects of long-term and short-term exposure are outlined in Section 11. 

Sections 12-15 are not mandatory but are extremely helpful when a healthcare facility is working to protect healthcare workers from harmful hazardous drug exposure. The potential environmental impact is covered in Section 12, and Section 13 details the proper disposal methods to avoid harmful exposure. Section 14 covers safe transport requirements. Section 15 can explain any regulatory information for the chemical and Section 16 is available to cover miscellaneous material not included in any other section. 

The End of the Tedious Hunt for SDS

There are currently thousands of SDS for hazardous chemicals. Healthcare facilities are on average required to maintain and make available hundreds of SDS depending on the number of hazardous drugs the hospital administers. As you well know, simply staying on top of the most updated SDS can quickly become a tedious and time-consuming job. When USP <800> compliance is on the line - especially once USP <800> is a regulation vs. a guideline - SDS updates and availability will be of the highest priority. 

Where do you house your SDS? Are they linked on your Share Point drive or Intranet? Can you track who is using the SDS and when? Most hospitals may meet the USP <800> guidelines for SDS documentation but whether the safety information is actually accessible and is used to improve healthcare worker safety is still to be determined.

A centralized hazardous drug safety platform makes it simple to document all necessary safety information like SDS. It can also ensure SDS are actually being used to protect all employees who come into contact with hazardous drugs - from shipping/receiving to pharmacists, clinicians and environmental services. In our clients, usage of vital safety information such as SDS goes up drastically as the number of clicks required to access the information goes down. When it comes to protecting people shouldn’t safety information be made as readily available as possible? Envision the latest SDS being made available within your platform and never having to visit a manufacturer's site again looking for the latest SDS. Rpharmy can help! 

While SDS can be tedious and are important, they are just one part of a long and ongoing process to comply with USP <800> and ensure healthcare workers are protected from harmful hazardous drug exposure. We’re here to make the process as easy and effective as possible. 

If you’d like to learn more about what to include in your Hazard Communication Plan, including SDS, check out Part 1 and Part 2 covering the 8 key components of a comprehensive plan.

Topics: Rhazdrugs, Policy, USP <800>, Formweb

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