Professional Information Sources for Safety Professionals

Instructor: Christopher Cowan

Christopher has taught Environmental Science and has trained employees about environmental compliance and worker safety. He has a Master's degree in Environmental Science.

This lesson identifies professional information sources for safety hazards and risk management. We'll discuss information sources including best practices, published literature, safety data sheets, and subject matter experts.

Locating Quality Information for Your Health and Safety Program

Elaine is the environmental, health and safety manager at Salir Resources, a medium-sized manufacturing company. She is collecting and reviewing hazard and risk management information for several new manufacturing projects. There are various sources of information available to safety professionals for hazard and risk management information. Elaine will be utilizing several different professional information sources when working on the review process for these new projects.

Information Sources for Hazards and Risk Management

There is a great amount of information and resources available to the health and safety professional. Information sources for hazards and risk management include safety data sheets (SDS), best practices, published literature, and subject matter experts.

Government Agencies and Professional Industry Organizations

Best practices are methods and practices that have been proven to produce efficient and ideal results when they are implemented. Best practices are established by governmental agencies and professional organizations that focus on health and safety. Agencies and professional organizations are also valuable resources for information about risk management and health and safety hazards. Agencies and professional organizations include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA has released guidance documents and interpretation on many different hazards as well as guidance on best practices for construction and general industry health and safety programs.

  • National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): NIOSH has developed guidance documents for many health and safety topics, as well as handbooks. NIOSH published Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards, which provides detailed information about specific chemicals and their hazards. The Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards is often used as a reference in the field when working with hazardous chemicals, as it provides concise details on hazard information for over six hundred chemicals.

  • American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP): The ASSP produces online trainings and webinars relating to various hazards, best practices, and risk management.

  • American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH): The ACGIH has published Threshold Limit Values (TLV) for over 700 chemical substances, as well as references on occupational exposure limits.

  • American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA): The AIHA publishes occupational health and safety reference books and manuals.

  • Society for Risk Analysis (SRA): SRA focuses on risk analysis, and has a specialty group focused on occupational health and safety.

Published Literature

There are multiple professional peer reviewed occupational health and safety journals. Prior to publication, articles in peer reviewed journals are reviewed by experts in the field. For example, a health and safety journal article would be reviewed by health and safety professionals. Articles are reviewed for quality, accuracy and validity. There may be revisions required from the writer prior to publication. The peer review process helps to ensure that published research is valid and meets high standards.

Some examples of peer-reviewed journals include:

  • Professional Safety Journal
  • Journal of Safety, Health and Environmental Research
  • Journal of Chemical Health and Safety
  • Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
  • Journal of Safety Research
  • Fire Safety Journal
  • Risk Analysis: An International Journal

Safety Data Sheets

Safety data sheets (SDS) are documents produced by chemical manufacturers that contain hazard information specific to the product or material. The SDS is written in a 16-part standardized format and includes information on health, physical and environmental hazards, safety precautions that should be taken when handling, storing or transporting the material, first aid, and spill cleanup. It also contains information on occupational exposure limits, and measures to reduce employee exposure to the chemical.

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