Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Improving Compliance through Accurate MSDSs and Hazmat Inventory: The Challenge Today for Organizations Is to Effectively Manage Their Entire Chemical Inventory So They Can Stay in Compliance and Avoid the Dangers, Fines and Fees Associated with Not Doing So

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Improving Compliance through Accurate MSDSs and Hazmat Inventory: The Challenge Today for Organizations Is to Effectively Manage Their Entire Chemical Inventory So They Can Stay in Compliance and Avoid the Dangers, Fines and Fees Associated with Not Doing So

Article excerpt

In the hazmat world today, most large organizations follow a time-honored process for identifying critical compliance needs and spend the money necessary to make it work. It is a process that tilts the compliance board in advantage of the bigger players.

It starts with a sophisticated purchasing or procurement system, usually with a module that enables environmental health and safety (EHS) staff to review and approve all incoming hazardous items. Nothing arrives into a big company unnoticed. Next, the chemical or product is tracked through some type of bar code or RFID-tagged inventory management system, and data on its location and specific usage is recorded.

Material safety data sheets (MSDSs) are obtained and tracked, using a sophisticated document and data management The challenge today for organizations is to effectively manage their entire chemical inventory so they can stay in compliance and avoid the dangers, fines and fees associated with not doing so. system that is tied into procurement and chemical tracking. At the end of all this, compliance reports required by EPA and local agencies are generated and submitted, usually electronically. At this point, management plans are made or modified, staff are trained or retrained and the company moves forward safely until the next monthly review period.

This utopian view of compliance management has been practiced for so long in so many high-profile companies that it has become the de facto process for managing compliance. In the world most EHS managers live in, however, the tools and resources just described do not exist. Companies today are forced to manage hazardous materials with limited budgets, staff, tools and systems.

Today, organizations need to create a new framework that takes into account the whole picture of hazmat compliance and its effect on the organization. Companies need to set their sights and marshal resources in one key area - an accurate hazmat inventory.

The picture begins with an accurate, up-to-date inventory of the pure chemicals, mixtures and products within the organization. The inventory becomes the foundation upon which the company manages other critical data and turns that data into knowledge on the hazards present in each of its facilities. This knowledge, when applied on a geographical, functional and hierarchal level within an organization, helps EHS staff make better business decisions.

This increases the value of the organization by reducing risk, cost and liability. A good hazmat inventory improves the bottom line and the basics are easy to understand and implement.

The Inventory

How Often? The frequency with which an inventory should be reviewed will depend on the size of the business and number of locations/departments that contain hazardous materials, the sophistication of purchasing and approval processes and the expected turnover of chemicals and other hazardous materials.

In an ideal world, a master inventory should be taken at least annually by the person responsible for the inventory in a specific location/department. Each new purchase or disposal should be tracked and the inventory modified throughout the year. EHS supervisors at each facility should have pre-purchase review and approval rights for any new product or chemical. Inventories from separate locations within an organization should be rolled up into a corporate-level inventory for analysis and to ensure consistency in process and purchasing.

What Data to Record? At a minimum, the location of each product or chemical should be recorded as well as the container size and quantity on hand of the material, the name of the product or chemical, the name of the company that made the product or chemical and any part number or description assigned by the manufacturer. This basic data will enable EHS staff to match the item to an MSDS, which can provide all the critical data needed for reporting and exposures. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.