OSHA aims to help companies prosper safely by providing ways to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals. So it has developed a Seven Step toolkit in order to provide employers and workers with information, methods, tools, and guidance on using informed substitution in the workplace.

Manufacturers using chemicals in their production processes and businesses that use products containing chemicals in their daily operations can get advantage of this step-by-step program. Not only can businesses successfully eliminate or reduce their targeted chemicals by following this Seven Step toolkit, but they can also improve their workers’ well-being. It is also a great opportunity for workers to better understand chemical use in their workplace, find ways to use safer chemicals, and engage with their employers throughout the process of identifying, evaluating, and transitioning to safer alternatives.

However, establishing a chemical management system that goes beyond simply complying with OSHA standards and aims to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards at the source through informed substitution can be a complex undertaking. Here are in brief the seven steps that will make the transitioning to safer alternatives easier:

Step 1: Engage
The first step is to make the commitment. Form an internal team with an identified team leader responsible for directing the work plans, setting goals for transitioning to safer chemicals and communicating implications for the business.

Step 2: Inventory and Prioritize
In this step you have to examine your current chemical use in your workplace and the hazards associated with each of these chemicals.

Step 3: Identify Alternatives
The third step includes the Identification of alternatives for targeted chemicals. This step will help you find more efficient, safer, and more sustainable solutions, taking into account technical and cost considerations.

Step 4: Assess & Compare Alternatives
In the fourth step you prioritize alternatives based first on performance. They have to be effectively implemented at the facility while maintaining process and product quality. Then you should assess and compare the hazard and cost of each alternative to help you make an informed decision.

Step 5: Select a Safer Alternative
This step is very important and it has to be based on the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative regarding key factors, such as hazard, performance, cost, and any trade-offs that exist. Of course, you should also take into account the goals of your business and your project.

Step 6: Test the Alternative
In this step, you implement the technical and organizational changes needed on a smaller, pilot scale, before fully applying the alternative. In this way you are able to recognize successes and failures and identify long-term impacts or problems.

Step 7: Implement and Evaluate the Alternative
In this final step you develop a plan to apply the technological and organizational changes necessary to implement substitution at full scale. Then you have to monitor and evaluate the impacts of the full implementation of the alternative in order to make possible improvements.

By following this OSHA’s seven- step toolkit, employers can protect their workers and strengthen their businesses. See more at: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/safer_chemicals/step1_engage.html