Reducing Chemical Management Risk with Trusted Chemical Property and Safety Data

January 8, 2020 Alan L. Johnson

Chemical management is a never-ending process fueled by the evolution of new European, international and U.S. policies designed to address potential harm to people and the environment caused by toxic chemicals. As new research around hazardous substances in products such as vaporizers, meat, plastics, and textiles is shared with the public, it is critical that global organizations manage the use of chemicals in their products and across their supply chains.

The use of chemicals with manufactured substances to replace natural materials is accelerating, especially in consumer products and building materials. Chemicals are used in an estimated 96% of manufactured materials and products according to the American Chemistry Council. A chart provided by Wilson and Schwarzman depicts the following growth of chemicals over the next 25 years:

 

Companies have relied upon a variety of voluntary and mandatory manual processes to control the flow of chemical risk into their operations. Tracking, monitoring and accurately reporting on chemicals and their locations is highly contingent upon using valid data.      

Unforeseen issues arise from the use of incomplete or missing data, misclassified products, language and version controls or an antiquated system of records. Not only does this misinformation lead to increased safety risk within the organization, but it also creates liability throughout the downstream value chain and exposes companies to regulatory and reputation risks. 

So how big is this issue? According to a recent report from the European Chemical Agency, the European National Enforcement Authorities (NEAs) controlling compliance with REACH requirements and ECHA’s Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement (Forum) found serious issues with the quality of the information provided in Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).

The quality of SDSs was addressed in the Forum’s coordinated REACH-EN-FORCE (REF) 2 project on the Obligation of downstream users - formulators of mixtures. In fact, 29 Member States undertook inspections addressing the quality and management of the downstream users’ own SDSs. Results from the evaluation of 4,500 SDSs demonstrated that 50% of the checked SDSs had defects in the information provided.

When aggregating results, the worst errors were specific to the content of sections 1, 2, 3, 8 and 15. Information deficiency rates across these sections ranged between 10-20%.

If 50% of SDSs submitted under REACH are defective, can you trust the accuracy of the rest of the information provided by the company authoring these SDSs?  This fundamental breakdown in chemical information is caused by many factors in an organization, but it can be linked to:

  • Dated systems
  • Lack of control over the procurement process
  • Data authored in other countries
  • Suppliers’ lack of disclosure
  • Rush to compliance
  • Automating errors
  • Structural incongruencies
  • Lack of internal expertise
  • Human error

As companies continue to grow their product portfolio domestically and internationally, it’s critical to examine how chemical data is sourced, aggregated, integrated and distributed throughout the organization or value chain. Unfortunately, in this complex global business environment we find ourselves in, there is little time to focus on the quality of such data and few resources available to actually cross-check it. Consequently, the need arises to have a trusted source for chemical and safety data that can be used in tandem with core business processes. 

A strategic data partner is a requirement for most companies that seek sustainable efficiency. Thankfully, Verisk 3E has been in the business of chemical and safety data for over 30 years. It's the only company that has the ability to source, maintain, normalize and distribute global chemical and safety data into core business processes and systems that are vital to the source, manufacturing, use, and sale of market-leading chemical products. 

One such integration is with Cority's Chemical Management solution. This integration provides trusted chemical property & safety data from Verisk 3E into a robust interface that allows companies to easily:

  • Maintain an inventory of the chemical and SDS information
  • Link and store current manufacturer SDS with product records and track chemical usage
  • Ensure SDS data is always accurate and up to date
  • Archive historical SDS when a newer SDS is attached to a product record
  • Maintain chemical approval status and history with the Management of Change module
  • Track and search products by trade name, chemical name or ingredient
  • Record detailed product information including manufacturer, SDS expiration period and date, physical description, and NFPA hazard classifications
  • Attach standard phrases and symbols to the product
  • Print labels for the product including GHS, WHMIS and NFPA symbols

Additionally, the solution provides controlled views and access privileges for Chemical Managers, Designates (responsible for a product in inventory) and Public Users. 

  • Chemical Managers have full access and can add, update both products and SDSs. They also have the ability to manage and assign chemical inventories and processes and approve/reject chemical requests
  • Designates can view and add products to their inventory but cannot modify product records. Designates can also view SDSs, print labels, and reports, and submit requests to add or update an SDS or purchase a chemical
  • Public Users can search and view manufacturer SDSs. They cannot view the inventory locations where a product is located nor can they access or edit product records.

 

Wrapping Up

Whether you are a chemical manufacturer, a cosmetics company, food or beverage conglomerate or simply a retail outfit, consumer goods chemical management can be difficult, to say the least. The burden of keeping up with constantly changing regulations, processes, product lines, customer inquiries, and even OSHA relations is overwhelming. Instead of trying to navigate all these risks alone, consider engaging with a trusted provider of chemical property and safety data to help expedite and streamline your chemical risk profile. When partnering with a leading EHSQ platform, such as Cority, the time savings, traceability, and overall value-added results are easily recognized as key components of a successful chemical management plan.

About the Author

Alan L. Johnson

As Director of Strategic Alliances at Verisk 3E. Mr. Johnson is responsible for devising and executing 3E’s Global Strategic Alliance Program, which play a critical role in its global business development strategy. Since joining 3E in 2015, he has negotiated alliances with a wide range of industry-leading companies, including Cority, increasing 3E’s global footprint through the development of integrated technologies. Mr. Johnson has more than ten years of business development and product management experience in the software industry, spearheading many successful B2B & B2C partnership programs. Prior to joining 3E Company, he held senior business development and product positions with market-leading software companies including Turning Technologies, BlueTie Inc. & The NASVF. Mr. Johnson holds a B.A. in Political Science/World Languages & Cultures from Mercyhurst College, a certificate from L’Université Laval in Français Langue Étrangère (FLE), and a dual MBA in Sales & Marketing Management/International Business from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s E. Phillip Saunders College of Business.

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