Chemical Alternatives: A Growing Trend

Government agencies and private companies alike are showing increased attention to the promise of creating safer and greener workplaces by replacing dangerous chemicals with ones that are less hazardous for workers and friendlier to the environment.

Each year, thousands of American workers are injured by on-the-job interactions with chemicals, and it is estimated that up to 50,000 die annually from the cumulative effects of chemical exposure. Addressing this issue through chemical replacement shows every sign of being a growing, worldwide trend. From global events like the annual International Symposium on Green Chemistry (which met for the first time in 2013), to a number of regional and state-level conferences, numerous groups are now working to actively encourage sustainable chemistry practices that will reduce the use of hazardous substances in the workplace.

In this connection, OSHA has recently developed a chemical replacement toolkit to provide employers with guidance on implementing chemical substitution plans.

“We must do more to protect America’s most valuable resource—our workforce. The most efficient and effective way to do this is by eliminating or replacing hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives whenever possible.” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, David Michaels, in a recorded statement on OSHA’s website.

According to OSHA, the benefits of chemical replacement go beyond just safety and compliance, and can also include:

  • Cost Savings
  • Efficiency and Improved Performance
  • Industry Leadership
  • Corporate Stewardship

And while OSHA does not always lead by emphasizing the compliance benefits of chemical replacement, there is every sign that restrictions on hazardous chemicals (and corresponding enforcement) will only increase. American and Canadian companies that export their products must also contend with accelerating chemical regulation in the E.U. and other regions where their products are shipped and sold. Because of this, taking steps now toward using fewer hazardous chemicals can be a strong move to position businesses for future international competitiveness.

In a recent article for OH&S Magazine, MSDSonline makes the case for why safety professionals are (or should be) on the front line of chemical substitution and sustainability efforts.

Clearly, replacing and substituting dangerous chemicals will be a growing part of hazard control going forward. Whether your company is just dipping its toe in the world of chemical replacement, or you’re ready for a major overhaul of hazardous chemical use throughout your facilities, MSDSonline’s suite of solutions is a great place to start! We are home to the largest online library of safety data sheets in the industry, and our search tools allow employers to easily find less-toxic versions of dangerous chemicals they may currently be using.

If you’ve never considered MSDSonline for chemical replacement, now may be the perfect time to start!  You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make a simple choice that can go a long way toward keeping workers safe, reducing the chances of a regulatory citation, and positioning you for a greener future.

Learn more about MSDSonline’s suite of chemical solutions here.

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