22 Sep 2020

Safety & Personal Protective Equipment Post-Pandemic

Safety and PPE have been at the forefront for governments, health care systems and C-suites across the world. Wearing masks to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 has been highly recommend and even mandated. For your own personal protection gloves, hand sanitizers, using cleaning wipes and regular hand washing are essential. Occupational Safety and PPE will continue to be critical as the economy starts to open. A major discontinuity is the heightened awareness and need for cleanliness and hygiene which, experts agree, is likely to continue well beyond the virus.

-Rahul Kapur Ex-Chief Strategy Officer, Aearo Technologies (now 3M) Managing Director, Icon Investment Partners Senior Advisor, &Marketing, Crossroad Transactions July 2020

HOW THE WILL THE PANDEMIC CHANGE SAFETY AND PPE?

There have been unprecedented changes in the Safety and PPE over the last few months. Many of these are expected to continue as economies around the globe start to re-open – probably in fits and starts as there have been, and will be, local flare ups of the virus. Learning on better treatment of the virus has, thankfully, reduced the number of people passing away. Many of these changes are likely to be more permanent in nature or at least last for several years.


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of workplace safety – starting with health care but in industries across America and the world. As companies reopen it is important to communicate with returning workers to make them aware of the safety measures in place, how to comply with them and that proper personal protective equipment and general cleaning materials such as soap and hand sanitizer are available. It should be clear who within the company will answer questions that will arise.

OSHA has already published guidelines that include what workers should understand about the virus. It is offering free on-site consulting for small to mid-size companies. As per OSHA, health care workers are at the highest risk followed by “workers with high-frequency interaction with the general public” (e.g., schools, restaurants and retail establishments, travel and mass transit, etc.). In many cases office workers are continuing to work-from-home where possible, but others returning to their work sites. Strict protocols need to be in place to these protect these workers, especially those at greater risks such as certain age groups and those with certain health histories.

OSHA Guidlines

Employers should ensure that their workers understand:

  • Differences between seasonal epidemics and worldwide pandemic disease outbreaks;
  • Which job activities may put them at risk for exposure to sources of infection;
  • What options may be available for working remotely, or utilizing an employer’s flexible leave policy when they are sick;
  • Social distancing strategies, including avoiding close physical contact (e.g., shaking hands) and large gatherings of people;
  • Good hygiene and appropriate disinfection procedures;
  • What personal protective equipment (PPE) is available, and how to wear, use, clean and store it properly;
  • What medical services (e.g., vaccination, post-exposure medication) may be available to them; and
  • How supervisors will provide updated pandemic-related communications, and where to direct their questions.

Increased Demand for PPE

Demand for PPE such as masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, cleaning wipes and hand sanitizers has sharply increased since these are the only products that can protect you from contracting the disease until vaccinations are available. This will take time. Given the stringent social distancing rules more widespread usage of PPE is crucial. This is especially true as the economy re-opens and if there is a second wave of infections. PPE products will be worn by individuals plus there will be demand by companies as people return to work after the lockdowns. Workplace safety is a major concern and, for now, PPE usage is the only option.

The PPE market is estimated to be $46 billion in 2019 according to a MarketsandMarkets report and should grow to $58 billion by 2022, at a compounded annual growth rate of over 6.5%. 

Supply issues around PPE were a major factor in the initial months, especially imports from China. Those that were aggressive in finding supplies gained not only in sales but also their customers’ gratitude.

More and more end-users are approving secondary suppliers and SKUs as part of their Risk Mitigation program as well as setting up monthly meetings with suppliers to get updates on the key product supplies.

A number of companies stepped up to expand manufacturing capabilities and increase production. This includes the traditional safety companies like 3M, Honeywell and Draeger as well as a number of new entrants, many of whom saw the opportunity to help their country in a time of shortage. This particularly includes those with sewing capability, those with the ability to bottle hand sanitizers and companies who could manufacture sophisticated ventilators. Good examples are Eddie Bauer, Nike, American Seating, Graffiti Shield, My Pillow, Jim Beam and even GM & Ford.

Long Term Change Expected

Based on my experience working with safety companies, research conducted and perspectives from prominent voices in safety by Safety+Health magazine there are four more significant longer-term changes expected:

  • Personal hygiene and area disinfection practices will become a part of the routine for the foreseeable future.
  • Strict protocols and administrative controls will be required & enforced for locations with more than a certain number of people.
  • Company and organizational policies will be needed for activities such as employee travel, sanitizing, disinfecting, additional training requirements and using/leveraging technology for safety.
  • Many PPE companies faced serious problems with their supply chains; particularly those importing from China. Now is certainly not the time for single sourcing. Many are seeking alternatives in Mexico and Central America. Other Far Eastern countries are becoming potential suppliers.

There are likely to be more guidelines developed by the CDC, OSHA, etc. to help organizations deal with this emerging “new normal.”

Beyond these, there will be other changes in occupational safety that business leaders should be considering. These include:

  • More and more companies will improve their Disaster Preparedness Plans starting with an evaluation of how they reacted to this pandemic and what they learned. The pandemic has forced Disaster Preparedness Plans from being “nice to have” to an essential.
  • There will be continuing updates to product standards, new workplace protection requirements and guidance, federal and state policy enhancements, and strategic undertakings by the PPE industry and governments to increase preparedness efforts. Following these will be important.
  • With these new guidelines, safety professionals will need to ensure that procedures to verify these practices are in place and performed properly. Primary these will include ensuring social distancing and barriers if people cannot meet distance requirements (shields at retail establishments are a good example). Other guidelines may emerge as we gain new knowledge about the virus.
  • Safety training will increasingly go online and innovative methods are evolving. Internet training will push beyond clicking a PowerPoint to become more interactive and with live demonstrations. Knowledge checks will be incorporated.
  • There will be safety implications on working from home. These are not yet clear.

Strategic Implications for PPE Providers

So what does this mean for PPE providers as they navigate through these uncertain times? Here are somethings that business leaders should be thinking about.

Fixing disrupted supply chains is mission critical. PPE was not alone. This affected almost every company. Out of the Fortune 1000 companies, 94% reported seeing coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions (Fortune, 2020). There is increasing discussion on domestic manufacturing of “essential supplies” with PPE near or at the top of the list. While moving completely away from China may be difficult, more diversified supply chains are emerging. Companies are looking at the East Asia, Mexico and Central America. Mexico and Central America’s proximity makes them more attractive with lower shipping costs and imports not being on the high seas for four weeks. This is what PwC, AmCham call a ‘China+1’ strategy.

Selling PPE at retail and online will exponentially expand. These channels are becoming more and more important to tap into the consumer demand for masks, gloves, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizers, etc. Sales of these products have exploded on Amazon, even gas stations are stocking them. More and more companies are starting to sell direct from their websites.

The winners will be those who innovate. This creativity can already be seen in face masks where a tremendous range of products are already available. These include colors, designs, and logos. Many are reusable and there are even copper infused masks that are “breathable with a double-layer barrier.”

A number of COVID Safety Kits have been introduced. These include an employee safety kit with a selection of safety products for people returning to the workplace by Arbill, Samsara Luggage globally launched Essentials for COVID for travelers, and here at Quest we are introducing kits targeted at several uses.

There have been other recent innovations, including (i) antimicrobial scrubs for medical staff and scrubs with anti-chafe stitching, four-way stretch, articulated knees, and stretch waistbands that enable greater mobility and increased comfort; (ii) antimicrobial respirator masks where silver and copper act as antimicrobial agents that kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus; and (iii) surgical gloves with perforation indicators and a higher level of protection using double gloving.

Maintaining relationships with new customers. Many PPE companies, especially distributors, have gained new customers especially where they had much needed supply. Continuing to build these new relationships can be an opportunity for growth. Here a combination of Account Based Marketing (ABM), sales force efforts and Inside Sales programs and help. ABM is a strategic marketing approach that targets a set of customer via digital marketing to build awareness and uses content marketing to build brand image at multiple levels in the customer’s organization.

In Conclusion

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has emerged as the only normal way to step outside when the world is faced with the highly infectious coronavirus. The major trends that are likely to persist are increased personal hygiene and area disinfection practices, strict protocols and controls will be required & enforced where larger numbers of people congregate, policies will be needed for activities where there is employee interaction with the general public, additional training will be required and supply issues will need to be fixed. Retail and on-line sales of selected PPE products to individuals and small businesses will be a more significant opportunity. Innovation, that meets consumer and end-users needs, will be crucial. Finally PPE companies have gained customers in these unprecedented times and should make an effort to build relationships with them.

About the Author

Rahul Kapur has 40+ years of successful business experience spanning a variety of areas. As a business consultant, he provides companies of all sizes with his expertise in strategy development, M&A, new products & innovation, and data analysis and modeling. His experience includes Unilever, Dow Chemical and Aearo Technologies (now 3M). He is Managing Director of Icon Investment Partners, Chairman of Guilford Group, Managing Member of Ark Capital Investments, LLC, and Senior Advisor for &Marketing, Crossroad Transactions, and Quest Safety Products, as well as on the boards of several start-ups.

14 Feb 2020

Quest Safety Product Inc. Successfully Completes PSCI Audit

Removing Barriers to Business for All Customers

Quest Safety Products’ audit report has been posted to the PSCI (Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative) membership page and can be reviewed by all PSCI member companies. 

The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI) is a group of pharmaceutical companies with a vision to establish and promote responsible business practices that will continuously improve social, health & safety and environmental sustainable outcomes for their supply chains throughout the world. 40 of the top companies in the pharmaceutical industry are members of this initiative.

PSCI’s mission is to establish formal industry guidelines regarding ethics, labor, health & safety, the environment, and management systems, as well as support suppliers to build their capabilities to operate in a manner consistent with those expectations. For additional details on PSCI visit their website or view their introductory video.

How PSCI's Audit Benefits All Quest Customers

Successfully completing PSCI's audit removes a barrier to business for Quest Safety and all its customers and prospects. PSCI's standards were established because of the regions in which they operate and the life-altering work involved in manufacturing pharmaceuticals. PSCI's standards of ethics, labor, health & safety, the environment, and management systems are not exclusive to the pharmaceutical industry. They are standards that customers expect from all suppliers. By participating in the PSCI audit, all of the customers and prospects working with Quest can be assured of our commitment to safe and responsible work practices for our employees, as well as our customers' employees.

PSCI’s Shared Audit Program

PSCI’s shared audit program assesses and cultivates transparency, reduces the duplication of work, and helps their members improve the effectiveness of their supply chains. The audits, performed by PSCI-member companies or third party companies, are designed to assess a supplier's performance against the PSCI Principles. Each audit shared reduces duplication and burden for suppliers and members. But standardizing audits achieves much more than efficiency; it is spreading consistent and good practice right across the sector. Once an audit and any corrective action plans are completed, PSCI and the audited company can share the audit for all member companies to review.

For details on the audit, its process and methodology see the PSCI Audit Guidance document. Members of PSCI can view Quest's audit can find it on PSCI's membership page.

Any company that is not a PSCI member but interested in seeing our audit can contact us directly.

05 Feb 2020

Safety Information Regarding COVID-19

While some of us may eventually be impacted by COVID-19, fortunately, it will probably be by a shortage of goods made in China, not by the actual virus. For those companies that have remote offices or manufacturing locations in China, it is important to be aware of the safety issues involved. 

Check out our Safety Resources for COV-19 page for resources and PPE information such as:

Links to CDC, WHO and OSHA for additional information on 2019-COVID-19

Infographics to Keep You and Your Employees Safe:

  Coronavirus Prevention Practices
  Proper PPE Can Provide a Safe Barrier between You and Coronavirus
  The Difference Between Respirators and Surgical Masks When Dealing with Airborne Exposure to Biohazards
  What to Look for in a Particulate Respirator Face Mask
  NIOSH Fact Sheet: Approval Labels - Key Information to Protect Yourself
  OSHA Fact Sheet: Respiratory Infection Control: Respirators Versus Surgical Masks
  Sequence for Putting On and Removing PPE from the CDC
  How to Don and Doff Particulate Respirators

If there is anything Quest can do to make this situation easier on your business and workers please contact us for assistance.

28 Jan 2020
Pharma worker in face mask and glasses

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is becoming a hot topic. Many US business owners, safety managers, and EHS professionals are wondering if this a safety concern for their workers. Here are links with information to answer some of those questions.

The Who, What, Where, and Why of 2019-nCoV are covered on the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions and Answers page.


The CDC currently recommends the following:

While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat:


Some of our customers who have locations overseas are requesting the following PPE for their workers:

  • Disposable Face Masks (N95 particulate filter)
  • Surgical Face Masks
  • Protection Chemical Splash/Impact Goggles
  • Surgical or Exam Gloves
  • Protective Coverall Suits
  • Shoe Covers

Contact Quest for Assistance with PPE, Information, or Additional Resources

19 Oct 2018

The HUBZone Contractors National Council presented Sam Yadav, CEO of Quest Safety Products, with the 2018 HUBZone Champion award at the HUBZone Contractors National Council Logo2018 National HUBZone Conference on October 12, 2018, in Washington D.C.

Pictured left to right: Diana Vass, Sr. Buyer, AstraZeneca; Sam Yadav, CEO of Quest Safety Products, Anna Hakobyan, Government & Commercial Contracts, AstraZeneca

The HUBZone Council consists of small businesses from every socioeconomic class, large businesses, non-profits, and Federal Agencies. The SBA HUBZone Program is unlike any other small business program in that the focus revolves around the development of a community. To the Council, the HUBZone Program is more than just a federal contracting program, it is providing hope to those communities that need it the most.

The 2018 HUBZone Champion award is given to companies that focus on promoting the values and spirit of the HUBZone Program and are involved in community outreach and support. Diana Vass, Sr. Buyer at AstraZeneca led the nomination of Quest for the HUBZone Champion award. Quest and AstraZeneca have been working together to keep AstraZeneca’s workers safe for over 10 years.

Michelle Burnett, Acting Executive Director of the council stated, “The HUBZone Contractors National Council was proud to present Sam Yadav of Quest Safety Products the HUBZone Champion Award at the 2018 National HUBZone Conference.  Reading how Mr. Yadav and the Quest team banded together to secure over 210,000 dollars in supplies and gear for the first respondents during Hurricane Harvey is beyond amazing.

Quest Safety Products moved from Fishers IN to the southside of Indianapolis in January of 2017. That move started nine months earlier with a $750,000 investment that included renovating offices and warehouse space built in the 1950s to meet food-grade clean specifications, moving resources and product, as well as hiring/training additional employees. It also included a year-long process of becoming HUBZone Certified as well as being Certified MBE by the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.

The motivators behind the move to downtown Indianapolis were numerous;

• Strengthening the Indianapolis community through hiring opportunities, promoting from within, and providing internships to nearby students.
• Participating in community outreach and supporting organizations who help others. Some of these efforts include;

o In 2017 Quest donated safety products and assisted Radians, a safety manufacturer and key partner, in donating safety supplies to Indiana Task Force One just after Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
o 19 years of sponsoring Indianapolis families through United Christmas Service.
o Flanner House of Indianapolis
o 2018 Evansville Police Department Foundation
o Donating safety equipment and supplies to Indiana Sea Cadet Unit

• Working closer to its key customers.
• Helping our customers achieve their SBA business goals.
• Collaborating with other diversified, small businesses to strengthen each business as well as the community as a whole.

When accepting the award, Sam Yadav, CEO of Quest Safety Products thanked AstraZeneca “for the opportunity to prove ourselves, let us in, share ideas, and give us a platform to succeed. It is the employees of Quest Safety, along with our customers, who show how HUBZones work to make local communities and America stronger.”

Click here to view Quest’s Capability Statement.

If you have any questions or need additional information please contact your Quest Territory Manager or email us!

Construction workers caution sign in the snow.

Winter Will Be Here Before We Know It!
Check Out Our Winter Safety Tips Page.

Back when we were kids, winter was great! Building snowmen, snowball fights, possible snow-days off, and holidays around the corner. When you are an adult working outside every day there is a lot more to consider. At Quest, we want to do everything possible to help you protect yourself and your workers.

Our goal is to provide you with articles, videos, checklists, toolbox talk worksheets, and infographics to make your work easier. Winter considerations are more than just making your workers more comfortable outside. We know you want your workers to be comfortable but there are also business considerations at play here also. By implementing smart winter safety practices you also

  • Adhere to OSHA regulations
  • Keep productivity up (who can be productive when dressed like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story?)
  • Reduce sick time and incident reports

Our Winter Safety Page provides you with five weeks of checklists, assessments, infographics, videos,
toolbox talks, and articles to ensure you and your workers stay safe, healthy, and productive this winter.

If you have any questions or need additional information please contact your Quest Territory Manager or email us!

Stay safe!

 

27 Sep 2017
Construction workers looking over the blue print wearing PPE.

It’s here!

Many safety professionals wait anxiously for OSHA to release their annual top ten cited standards. If you are a seasoned safety focused person, I bet you can guess the #1 most cited standard…. You got it! – Fall Protection, 1926.501. It seems every year fall hazards top the charts. The complete list was released to a crowd at the 2017 National Safety Council Expo in Indianapolis, IN.

For the full list of most cited standards, check out OH&S Magazine’s OSHA Unveils FY2017 Top Most-Cited Standards article.

What should you do?

Contact Quest Safety to talk with a trained sales professional about best practices, new products, and resources to reduce citations and prevent your next fall. There have been advancements in the industry by 3M Capital Fall Protection and Honeywell Miller Fall Protection. We want to connect you with the right product for the application.

 

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05 Aug 2016
Two hard hats at a worksite with cranes and a sunset in the background.

Safety in the workplace is a goal that all companies strive to reach. One way to ensure safety in a job that involves physical hazards is the use of hard hats. The hard shell alleviates blows directly to the head and helps to prevent a range of head injuries from concussions to brain damage. OSHA 1926.100 stipulates that employers must supply hard hats in work environments where there is a possibility of head injuries from impact, objects, or electrical shock/burns. There are hard hats to fit every job, environment, and personality. The top brands today are MSA, Bullard, 3M, Fibre-Metal, and Honeywell. With so many hard hats on the market, how do you find the right one for your needs?

Types of Hard Hats

ANSI Z89.1-2014 dictates that there are two types of hard hats, Type I and Type II. Type I hard hats are constructed to shield workers from objects and blows that come from above and pummel the top of the helmet, while Type II hard hats are constructed to protect against lateral blows and objects. Evaluate the work environment and the location of potential hazards to determine which type would be most suitable for your site.

Classes of Hard Hats

ANSI Z89.1-2014 also separates hard hats into three different classes: E, G and C, indicating their electrical insulation rating.

Class E (Electrical) Hard Hats

Defined as electrical hard hats, these are designed to reduce exposure to high voltage conductors and offer dielectric protection up to 20,000 volts. This protection does not extend past the head, however, so additional PPE must be worn to protect the rest of the body from electrical hazards.

Class G (General) Hard Hats

These are general hard hats constructed to lessen exposure to low voltage conductors and offer dielectric protection up to 2,200 volts. The same goes for Class G hard hats as Class E hard hats: additional PPE must be worn to protect the worker below the head.

Class C (Conductive) Hard Hats

This class of hard hat differs from the other two classes because they are not designed to provide protection against contact with electrical conductors. These hard hats protect the wearer only from impact blows to the head.
Most hard hats come with an interior sticker indicating the hat’s type, class, and the year it was manufactured.

Hard Hat Suspension and Style

The two most popular styles of hard hat suspension are ratchet and pin lock. A ratchet suspension adjusts with a ratchet at the back of the hard hat, while a pin lock suspension adjusts with pins and holes, also at the back of the hat. The suspension is the backbone of your hard hat, making it an important factor when considering which one to choose.

Hard hats may also be classified another step further by being vented or non-vented. A vented hard hat is one with small slots at the crown of the hat to encourage air flow, while a non-vented hard hat has no slots. A vented hard hat is especially helpful for people working outside in the sun. Overheating is a serious thing; preventing it in any way you can is important.

Additional Features Available

There are hard hats and accessories to fit every job, environment, and personality. Here are some of the ways you can customize your safety, fit, and look.

  • Standard brim or cap style vs Full brim, for additional 360 degree protection from objects, the sun, and rain
  • Logos and Hi-Vis striping
  • Fiberglass for higher temperatures
  • Face shield/visors to protect from flying debris, chemical splashes, radiant heat, infrared radiation, and arc flashes
  • Accessory slots for hearing protection
  • Sweatbands, shades, and liners
  • Personalization: cowboy style hats, sports teams, patriotic, and camo just to name a few
  • Bump Caps: These lightweight helmets look more like industrial baseball caps. They are not ANSI certified and are only provided for workers who might occasionally bump or scrape their heads

Now that you understand the different types, classes and styles of hard hats, let’s talk about a tool that can actually help you select the best hard hat to fit your workplace needs!

Customize Your Very Own Hard Hat!

3M, Honeywell, and MSA offer hard hat customization tools that allow you to choose your hard hat model, color, quantity, suspension and style making it as easy as 1, 2, 3 (no really, it’s a three step process). You are able to preview, save and share your designs. Check it out!

When to Replace Your Hard Hat

Just like other types of PPE, hard hats need to be replaced over time to ensure workers receive maximum protection. Damage—such as dents, cracks, penetrations or fatigue due to rough treatment—is a sign that a hard hat needs to be replaced. Heat and rays from the sun are very harsh on hard hats and can cause them to become brittle over time. It is crucial to inspect your hard hat before each use. Another way to evaluate a hard hat, other than by simply looking at it, is to hold it in both hands and administer force by squeezing it. If creaking or other unusual sounds are heard, it’s probably time to replace your hard hat. Some manufacturers recommend replacing hard hats every 12 months. Industry standards recommend that, at a minimum, hard hats are replaced every five years even if no damage is found.

There you have it; you’re now on your way to selecting the right hard hat for your workplace needs! Remember to think about the two types of hard hats, then take things a step further and consider which class of hat is best suited to the work environment. Be sure to choose the appropriate suspension and style type also. Now that you understand the different options that hard hats have to offer, your responsibility to select the proper one should be a bit easier. Your head is an important part of your body so keep it properly protected!

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04 Jul 2016
Using DEET based bug sprays/insect repellents on FR (Flame Resistant) PPE or clothing is very dangerous.

Summer is great, but with it comes mosquitoes and ticks. While many people rely on DEET-based insect repellents, workers in electrical and similarly hazardous environments must look for alternate solutions. People who work in environments that may include flash fires, electrical arcs, or combustible dust are required to wear flame resistant (FR) clothing at all times. Unfortunately DEET and the chemicals that make up FR clothing do not mix well.

DEET, the active ingredient in most popular insect repellents, is highly flammable and should not be used in hazardous environments. This leaves people working in these electrical environments three options; work without insect repellent, use common insect repellent on exposed skin only, or use repellent specifically made for FR clothing. This last option is the safest and best choice. Several manufacturers make non-DEET insect repellent that uses Permethin to repel and kill bugs without endangering the wearer. Permethin is non-flammable and adheres to FR material for up to six weeks in many cases. Contact Quest Safety for more information.

22 Jun 2016
GHS HazCom pictograms. The symbols are used to identify workplace dangers.

In 2009, OSHA began aligning their Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 1994) also known as HazCom, with the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) adopted in 2003 by the United Nations. With HCS 1994, OSHA intent was to give workers knowledge of health, physical, and environmental hazards they may encounter in the workplace. The goal of what became HCS 2012 was to standardize hazardous information to make it easier for workers to understand quickly, especially in emergency situations.

The key changes to HazCom and GHS are hazard classification; standardization of labels with signal words, pictograms, and hazard information; converting previously used Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to a new standardized format, Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  Compliance with the new standard (HCS 2012/29 CFR 1910.1200) began in 2012 with a final deadline of June 2016. At that time all chemical users and producers must adhere to the new regulations.

For additional information see:
OHSA’s Hazard Communication Page
Free OSHA Training Tutorial – Understanding the GHS Labeling System
Free OSHA Training Tutorial – Understanding GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s)
GHS Training: Passing Deadlines Don’t Mean the Work is Over from Occupational Health and Safety Magazine