For example, in Europe, companies will be required to follow a harmonized (mandatory) classification of specific substances. That may differ from South Korea and Japan, which also have official lists of recommended GHS classifications for substances.
Though the harmonized system is often disjointed, the intention is to encourage participation through flexibility with the goal of continuous movement toward a true GHS. The challenge for risk professionals and supply chain managers is to decipher how the various global adaptations and implementations of GHS will impact their businesses from a risk management perspective.
Preparing for HazComm 2012
Managing the standard’s classification requirements will be particularly challenging for risk professionals and supply chain managers. Manufacturers and importers will need to reclassify their hazardous materials and capture additional data for publication on labels and safety data sheets (SDS’). New criteria for classifying human health and physical hazards as well as OSHA-defined hazards and hazards not otherwise classified (HNOC) have far-reaching implications for the data contained within SDS’ and product labels. In many instances, SDS’ and shipping labels will need to be re-authored to comply with the new guidelines set forth in HazComm 2012.
Key components to enact for a successful risk management strategy include:
Analyze SDS management initiatives—Encouraging risk and supply chain managers to conduct a thorough analysis of SDS management initiatives is an excellent starting point. This reassessment includes reviewing the source of relevant SDS’ for all hazardous products on site. Accurate inventory management is the cornerstone of any comprehensive SDS management program. Managers should know exactly which products are on the shelves and ensure each one has a corresponding SDS.
Ensure access to SDS’—Another critical component of HazComm 2012 is enabling access to the relevant information when it is most needed. To ensure compliance with this requirement, new SDS’ should be effectively distributed throughout the company, especially to employees who work with hazardous chemicals. Store SDS’ in paper and/or electronic repositories so they are easily accessible by employees.
Understand the changes—Following the receipt of an SDS with GHS information, managers should review the new SDS and compare it with the previous version to evaluate changes. For the comparison and evaluation of the SDS information, put in place a structured, streamlined process to extract and view old and new information. Once this process is in place, evaluate each SDS to see whether the reclassified product has any business ramifications. Impacts can range from purchasing decisions—such as increased cost of handling a hazardous product on site through storage, personal protective equipment (PPE) and disposal—to a formula evaluation if the classification changes for a raw material.
Use new GHS information—One of the intents of GHS is to improve the understanding of hazard information available to employees. Employee comprehensibility helps prevent accidents through proper understanding of the hazards and the required precautionary measures.
Prepare and train—It’s vital for risk and supply chain managers to become familiar with both the upstream and downstream responsibilities under HazComm 2012. Employees should know where to find information on new GHS-formatted SDS’ and labels and how to interpret GHS information. Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers may also play a voluntary role in educating customers as they navigate new information filtering through the supply chain. Different parties may need to explain classifications for the products purchased by consumers.
Achieving compliance with GHS across global supply chains can indeed feel like being hit by a tidal wave. Nevertheless, risk professionals and supply chain managers are taking action and conforming to this complex new initiative. Strong processes, applications, systems and service providers can support the various aspects of compliance management for GHS. By recognizing their obligations, companies can help promote chemical safety while at the same time, boost compliance, minimize corporate risk and protect their brands.