Some urgent care and occupational medicine providers have questions regarding the new OSHA requirement for Safety Data Sheets, effective June 1, 2016. Here’s what you need to know.

Essentially to be compliant you must:

  • Make sure all of your Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) are replaced with Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
  • Make sure all hazards in your urgent care are labeled with the new pictograms.
  • Re-up any training you’ve provided employees on OSHA compliance.

OSHA requires that employers keep Safety Data Sheets on potentially hazardous materials. These sheets are generally available from the manufacturer, supplier, or online. In 2013, OSHA changed from MSDS to SDS, which is the international standard. This new standard covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than five million workplaces across the U.S. The modification is expected to prevent over 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and 43 fatalities annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

So to be compliant at your urgent care center, you should go through your MSDS binder to make sure you have a sheet for all onsite chemicals, and make sure all the sheets are in the new SDS format. If you have old MSDS sheets (prior to 2013) then you should contact your vendor or supplier to get the new sheets updated in your binder. Generally the only hazardous materials in urgent care centers are cleaning supplies, but you should maintain an ongoing inventory of hazardous materials.

There is also a requirement that the chemicals themselves (as well as other potential workplace hazards) be labeled with pictograms. In most cases, the packaging from the manufacturer will contain the appropriate label. An example of where it may be necessary to use your own label would be if you put a manufacturer’s product into a different container (i.e. if you’re putting toilet bluing for drug screens into a spray bottle, the spray bottle needs to be labeled). OSHA provides pictograms and descriptors per below for this purpose.

For the OSHA training, the requirement is that employees be able to read and understand the SDS and pictogram. This is an ongoing obligation, to ensure employees understand what chemicals are potentially hazardous, where those chemicals are stored, how to read the labels and SDS sheets, and what to do in case of an emergency.

For more information on OSHA’s new rule go here.