Use these tips to manage compliance throughout the entire chemical lifecycle.
- By Prabhu Natarajan, Julia Tsvetkova, Tamie Webber
- Jan 01, 2007
AS the number of regulations increases worldwide,
companies are being held increasingly responsible for the safety of products they
manufacture and/or use in the workplace. Not everyone is aware, however, that
EH&S compliance is required at multiple steps throughout the lifecycle of a
hazardous material or chemical, including during research and development,
testing, manufacturing, transportation, usage and disposal. If a regulatory
compliance program addresses only a portion of the lifecycle, it could be
insufficient and put companies and their personnel at risk for the dangers,
fines, and fees associated with non-compliance.
The best way to prevent these potential
fines and penalties is to develop and adhere to a comprehensive compliance management
program that addresses all phases of the chemical lifecycle, from the cradle to
Simplifying a Complex Process
Developing a comprehensive regulatory
compliance management program can be a somewhat daunting process. There are
several issues that need to be addressed prior to developing and implementing
an effective program, including:
- Do you have an accurate, up-to-date hazmat
inventory? This inventory becomes the foundation upon which the company manages
other critical data and turns those data into knowledge on the hazards present
in each of its facilities.
- Are your employees protected from
potentially hazardous materials in the workplace?
- What documents do you need for
distribution of products containing ingredients labeled as hazmat?
- What is the best way to ship hazardous
materials? How do you properly pack, classify, and label these materials?
- What is the impact on the environment?
- Are regulations consistent across the
product's target market, or must you adhere to regional regulations?
Outsourcing the distribution of MSDSs can
result in greater cost efficiencies, increased value to downstream end user
customers, and reduced risk.
OSHA, EPA, and other governmental bodies
mandate that certain standards be maintained when an organization uses, stores,
transports, or disposes of hazardous materials. For instance, OSHA's HazCom
Standard mandates that "the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported
are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is transmitted to
employers and employees. This transmittal of information is to be accomplished
by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include
container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets and
As AMR Research analyst Simon Jacobson
notes, "[EH&S compliance] goes well beyond finished product quality
testing against regulated specifications. Firms have to manage the levels of
emissions and waste created during the full spectrum of operations throughout
the entire lifecycle of their products and facilities, from R&D through
transportation to customers--and increasingly to end of life and disposal."
Defining the Compliance Focus of Each Phase
Identifying, monitoring, and complying with
these complex and ever-changing regulations and requirements can be
overwhelming, especially when combined with the tactical and administrative
tasks listed above. Identifying the individual phases of the chemical lifecycle
and examining the compliance requirements specific to each phase help to ensure
compliance requirements are met throughout the entire lifecycle.
Research and development
During the research and development
process, access to the latest regulatory data is critical. As new products are
developed and formulations are determined, it is essential to know whether
proposed ingredients are approved for use in target markets. Access to current,
accurate, comprehensive global regulatory data during this phase, therefore, is
crucial and cannot be overstated.
Manufacturers are especially challenged
with regulatory compliance because they have complex internal and external
obligations. First and foremost, manufacturers must ensure the safety of their
own employees and the safety of their products. They also are tasked with
providing accurate and reliable information to downstream customers. To
facilitate the exchange of accurate information, once a new product is
produced, the manufacturer must create a material safety data sheet (MSDS) to
help distributors support the regulatory requirements of their markets and
fulfill HazCom requirements. Manufacturers also need to ensure MSDSs are sent to
customers in accordance with the regulatory requirements for the jurisdictions
in which sales are made.
During this phase, it is recommended that
distributors consult their product lists and sales records to ensure new or
updated MSDSs are distributed appropriately among end users. New MSDSs must be
distributed (by mail, e-mail, or fax) to customers upon sale and again when any
change is made. This task can be especially time consuming and burdensome;
outsourcing the distribution of MSDSs can result in greater cost efficiencies,
increased value to downstream end user customers, improved compliance, reduced
risk, and protection of the corporate brand.
It is important to have a clear
understanding of the regulations of the countries through which each shipment
During transport, a manufacturer must
ensure shipments of its products are properly packaged, marked, and labeled
according to the mode of shipment. It is important to have a clear
understanding of the regulations of the countries through which each shipment
passes, as well. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires
that all hazardous materials or dangerous goods for transport be appropriately
classified, packaged, marked, labeled, placarded, and shipped with proper
documentation. Failing to comply can result in civil penalties and fines of up
to $32,500 per incident per day.
Once a product is received by the customer
and used on site, a different set of requirements applies. The employer must
provide MSDSs and training to its employees and report on usage to regulatory
If a company uses hazardous materials,
there is also the possibility of a chemical spill. While federal regulations
require employees to be trained to properly manage chemical spills, it is the
responsibility of an owner to keep employees safe when doing so. Companies can
better prepare for a chemical spill and increase the safety of employees during
an incident by providing potential first responders with basic information on
recognizing different types of spills and how to respond.
Outdated and spilled material must be disposed
of according to regulations. One of the critical components of a successful
hazardous waste management program is accurately and consistently identifying
and classifying items regulated as hazardous waste should they require
disposal. Once the hazardous waste items have been identified, processes can be
put in place to help ensure the proper handling, storage, and disposal of these
materials. A comprehensive review of the manufacturer MSDSs, reviewing
appropriate federal and state-specific waste codes, and reviewing descriptions
for a customer's products will help in classifying hazardous waste.
Outsourcing Aids Compliance
Most companies have limited staff resources
to dedicate to EH&S responsibilities and are unable to ensure regulatory
compliance throughout the chemical lifecycle. Working with an outsourced
solution provider can greatly simplify the process and facilitate compliance. Outsourced
services are available that address the entire lifecycle of a chemical.
This article appeared in the January 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.