The importance of safety manuals in the workplace
Safety manuals are essential workplace reference guides, regardless of whether or not you have specialized equipment in your facility that requires training to operate. In industries such as construction, government labor agencies, both on state and federal levels, provide workplace health and safety manuals that contain potentially life-saving information. All workers on a site, regardless of their specific positions, should know proper safety procedures inside and out. These health and safety manuals are a key tool in the ongoing battle against workplace accidents and injuries.
The Importance of the MSDS
The MSDS, or material safety data sheet, is a standard publication issued to inform workers of potential hazards when dealing with industrial chemicals, solutions and materials. Among other things, the MSDS gives information about the proper storage, handling and disposal of a product, as well as any measures that should be taken for personal protection, such as wearing coveralls or eye protection. All workplaces, in industries ranging from manufacturing to hospitality, are required by law to provide material safety data sheets that give safety specifications for every single chemical, solution or material in use in the workplace.
Before you work with any unfamiliar substance, or even a familiar one that you know has corrosive or toxic properties, you should check its MSDS to make sure you know how to handle it safely. Some of the most serious accidents that happen in industrial settings are the result of the improper handling of chemicals; don't become a statistic.
Sources of Workplace Safety Manuals
In the United States, on the federal level, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration division of the U.S. Department of Labor is the bureaucratic body assigned to industrial and commercial safety. They are an excellent resource if you have questions about your responsibilities as an employer, or if you need to source Material Safety Data Sheets or other general publications that can improve safety standards in your place of business.
Sometimes, though, additional safety regulations are imposed on the state level; in such cases, you should expect to follow whichever code is the strictest. Regional geographic concerns can require additional measures; for example, Alaskan labor laws contain safety provisions that are completely unnecessary in climates like Florida or California. If you have any concerns about discrepancies, contact your state's labor advocacy body and request specific information.
Manufacturers of specialized equipment must provide safety manuals to anyone purchasing their products. If your business has opted to save money by buying used equipment, you can contact the manufacturer for a replacement or search online for a digital version.