Best Practices for Chemical Management – Vision 2020

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Every couple of years I am asked to renew this blog which first appeared many years ago. What have we learned since the last time? How have labs, research and educational institutions, industry and government fared now as compared to the past?

As the roaring twenties descend upon us, one key thing that is different now, and a major breakthrough for EHS is that safety and compliance have now become unquestionable priorities in just about every sector where chemicals and other hazardous materials are present. “Safety Third,” a phrase first coined by actor Mike Rowe more than ten years ago on his show Dirty Jobs where injuries seemed to be commonplace, was intended to shock workers and management to take safety more seriously. It worked there, and it seems to be working everywhere today.

Here is my 2020 vision for Chemical and EHS Management Best Practices:

  1. Don’t Wait! Cloud and mobile SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) technologies have reduced the acquisition and implementation costs of EHS software. In 2019, 80% of all our customers chose the SaaS option over licensing software.
  2. Involve as many people as you can hands-on. EHs cannot do this job alone and it has been proven unequivocally that safety, compliance and efficiency increase dramatically when individual stakeholders are involved.
  3. In relation to the item above, chose technology that is easy to learn and has mobile components for smart phones and tablets (iOS, Android and Windows 10 mobile apps) that are available and can be used by people in every area of the operation.
  4. Work with experienced vendors that have a track record with implementations that are similar to your requirements and expectations. The EHS technology sector has consolidated into a few companies that can serve you well! But beware (see below.
  5. Beware: Some companies with recognized names in the industry have been acquired by what are known as PIGs (Private Investment Groups) and though they have maintained their name, they are managed by industry outsiders that are only profit driven.
  6. As a client, you should demand that your account manager is a person whose name you know and who has measurable industry experience. Your project manager will become your biggest advocate when most needed.
  7. Use boots-on-the-ground to complement your tools-on-the cloud implementations. There are some amazing companies that have supported and continue to support onsite chemical management and worth every penny. We have worked with ThermoFIsher Scientific’s Unity Lab Services, Triumvirate Environmental, ManagedLabs and others to help clients implement technologies that support best practices, with consistently positive feedback.

Below is a copy of a Best Practices Chart that I was asked to republish:

Purchase only the chemicals and amounts required Keeping a minimum inventory makes sense if you have processes in place for updating inventories regularly and setting automated reorder points
Reduce inventories and store only what is almost immediately needed Chemicals that are sitting on shelves unused pause a variety of safety and compliance issues. Mark them as surplus so they can be shared, or dispose them
Improve inter- facility and intra- facility delivery of chemicals Good technology supports chemical distribution. Use barcodes or RFID and smartphones or tablets to streamline chemical delivery
Reduce infrastructure costs You do not (YOU DO NOT!) need servers and IT Support for EHS systems. Cloud- based systems reduce costs dramatically
Increase environmental regulatory compliance and decrease legal liability Technology allows you to keep data in real- time that can be cross- referenced with hazard and regulatory data for vastly improved regulatory compliance. Task calendars connected to your chemical inventory and ensure staying within the regulatory framework for storing, disposal and reporting of chemicals.
Facilitate data interchange to and from EHS systems and ERP/MRP systems Most Systems can connect with one another to share data. This improves accuracy, reduces labor, and supports real- time information access
Increase operational safety for workers and the community Put a Safety Data Sheet in everyone’s pocket! Smartphones are mini- computers where information can be available at all times, everywhere
Streamline environmental compliance and reporting Good data management tools results in easily created regulatory and compliance reporting
Enhance a corporate image of responsibility and safety Put EHS links on your corporate website that give your personnel, customers and visitors the clear message that safety and corporate environmental responsibility are paramount to your operations
Use Barcode or RFID labels and Smartphones or tablets for updating chemical locations and quantities With EHS mobile apps (download EMS.GHS, EMS.Inventory and/ or EMS.Waste from the Apple and Google stores ) the camera of a smartphone or tablet can be used to read barcodes and track and move containers between locations
Minimize hazardous waste disposal Reduced inventories result in reduces hazardous waste disposal
Role – Based, Personalized Group and User EHS Dashboards I am a pioneer in this area, and it is worth addressing: User or Group dashboards with specific one-click functions that focus on individual workflow process simplify and expedite software training and use. Lab chemists, for example, should only be seeing chemical inventory related functions; waste handlers should only have access to waste functions, etc.
Automate repetitive and low- value tasks With technology you can set automated actions at every step of your operations to ensure that information is current and available, deadlines are not missed, corrective actions are followed through to completion and many other tasks that will improve operations and increase efficiency
Conserve human resources for more value- added tasks Good technology frees your valuable time to monitor, manage and verify

Unlike what I’ve said previously, EHS is no longer a necessary evil in organizations. Through Best Practices, EHS has proven its worth and benefit far and wide.

As I have said before, here is the bottom line:

Through Lifecycle Chemical Management, Chemical Safety’s flagship method for implementing processes at every level in the organization, the workplace is safer, compliance is achieved easily and consistently, and operating costs are streamlined. By adopting best practices for chemical management, EHS departments bring a strategic advantage to every organization, reduce legal liability and offer measurable benefits across every department. Chemical Safety’s Environmental Management Systems (EMS),, offers a clear for achieving best practices in the industry.

I welcome your comments at or at For more information and an evaluation of how to implement best practices in your organization, pleas go to or contact me directly. May 2020 bring clear vision to your organization.

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