SafeID HazMat Solutions
AuthorHennings, Edward Joseph
Electrical & Biomedical Engineering
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A leading force in current business practice is the inclusion of safety awareness in every circumstance. Whether this is in an industrial setting, such as manufacturing, or in the service sector, such as a business office, safety often becomes a motivating source for a company, both in terms of employee retention and financial liability. In order to regulate practices in the United States, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was tasked with creating and enforcing safe work practices across all fields. This includes, particularly in terms of our product, hazardous materials awareness. According to OSHA guidelines, all employers are tasked with “preparation and distribution of safety data sheets to employees and downstream employers”.  In the past, this has been completed using Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), printed and stored in a centralized location within a given facility. One important note about MSDS is that they are normally created and written by the company making the product. Currently, there is no fully implemented international or national standard. Another note is that, according to a recent OSHA report, the second most common citation of companies nationwide was for the lack of hazard material communication.  Violation of this penalty may cause a company up to $70,000 in fines. (29 USC) Similarly, according to a recent report by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), death and injury accidents caused by hazardous materials have been nearly constant over the past 20 years, shown in Figure II-1 above.  Within the safety industry, a development has gained traction; a Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) has been implemented by the United Nations in an attempt to fully reconcile all MSDS into one singular format, hereafter referred to as a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). This system is new and has only been implemented in the United States since 2009. These policies bring up two important questions: ? How can a company streamline this process of hazard communication without sacrificing employee safety or profit? ? What is an effective and simple way to upgrade a company?s current Hazard Communication protocol to the new system? Our goal here at SafeID is to create a product that can solve both of these problems. With innovation and experience, our team has come up with a revolutionary idea in personal hazard communication. In short, SafeID has come up with a device that will have three main functions. (For a complete schematic of the product, see Appendix A). The first component of the device will be an active RFID tag. This tag will have different chemicals programmed in by the user. The tag will be attached to the outside of the container holding the hazardous material (i.e. flameproof enclosure, disposal truck). This tag will then repeatedly send out a signal looking for the next part of the device, the receiver. The second part of the device is the receiver. This part of the circuit will receive the information from the tag and alert the user to a tag presence using an audible tone and blinking LED. The user then has the option either to ignore the device or to press a button. Upon that button press, the third part of the device will be activated, the phone module. The third part of the device is the phone-receiver interface. The information from the tag will be uploaded to the nearest attached phone. This will open an app on an Android enabled phone that will bring up an SDS for the chemicals received from the original RFID tag. This product will become a safeguard for employers, as well as peace of mind for employees. To be alerted to a danger before coming into range of a potentially harmful environment, as well as knowing exactly how to deal with said danger, is a huge plus to the safety community. Not to mention, this product will allow employers to have, on hand, the most up to date SDS available for a material, especially one in the new GHS format. This is unheard of in the market today. One final component to the background of the product is the safety aspect. To help account for this, a focus group has been formed of both local and national safety professionals. Initial results have been extremely favorable. A professional who heads a safety division in a large metropolitan area states, “I think that this is an invaluable tool that can be very useful in everyone?s field, and may even save some lives, especially in the emergency response line of work. A lot of companies are going paperless now and having a computerized database and warning system in one compact device would be the way to go.” Another interviewee, who acts as the safety manager for a million-dollar nonprofit facility, “The concept of RFID tags for Hazardous Materials could be a huge benefit to the safety community. Being able to alert employees and visitors to potential dangers before exposure is a phenomenal concept. Additionally, with the change to Globally Harmonized System and the increased use of digital MSDS (SDS) storage, being able to access needed information quickly could alleviate the regulatory burden of warning all visitors and employees when they are near a particular chemical.” Many members of the test group have agreed to stay on as advisors to the company as the product moves forward. In closing, here at SafeID, we pride ourselves in creating a product that will both save lives and create a more stable work environment for companies, one product at a time.