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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

MSDS Sheets: 4 Ways Senior Leaders May Be Sabotaging Compliance

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

MSDS SheetsFor companies in the chemical/manufacturing space, safety data sheet (SDS) compliance is the most pressing objective right now. Or at least it should be…

Because in order to comply with the UN’s Globally Harmonized System requirements before the June 1, 2015 deadline, manufacturers must draft SDSs or re-author MSDS sheets that meet a whole new set of criteria. And although different methodologies for hazard communication might have made sense in the past, the GHS doesn’t leave room for manual authoring and old-school spreadsheets—not without significant risks and major inefficiencies, anyway.

Still, some senior leaders in the business of chemicals, finishing, blending, paint manufacturing, etc. have yet to implement a transition plan. If you are one of those leaders, or if you work with one of those leaders, the following list offers some must-read insights… along with an MSDS sheets solution you can start exploring today.

View Guide on GHS Business Risks & Opportunities

  1. Failing to Hear and Empower Key People

Some of the world’s smartest business leaders credit success to empowerment and conversation. They conduct regular “listening sessions,” so they can hear from different departments without dictating the agenda. For chemical companies, this kind of dialogue is especially important in the current GHS transition context.

Even though many senior leaders in manufacturing have a background in chemistry or engineering, they aren’t as close to their facilities’ EH&S challenges as full-time environmental managers, safety managers, or plant engineers. Without open conversation, leaders are left waiting for concerns to bubble up through the ranks. More than ever, it’s time to trust your experts and (if necessary) expand their roles in the GHS transition process. Task them with gathering comparables on SDS authoring/management solutions. Then listen to their findings.

  1. Focusing on Programs, Rather than Long-Term Cultural Changes

In plant management, the mindset is often about “getting things done.” Leaders introduce programs with a list of productivity benefits, and expect results to follow. From an operations perspective, we get that. But from an organizational psychology perspective, it doesn’t pan out. Because employees aren’t motivated by the latest and greatest process you introduce.

Instead, they are motivated by their relationship with managers and with the company itself—by the sense of autonomy or competence they get from their role. Leaders who foster employee engagement and positive cultural changes see real returns. In fact, a recent case study on safety and quality in chemical manufacturing revealed that boosts in employee engagement correlated with major improvements in production quality and an astounding decrease in reportable safety incidents.  

  1. Preaching Values, without Actively Supporting Them

Every business leader talks up the importance of productivity and quality end products. But not every leader actually gives his/her team the tools needed to deliver on these goals. Far from it, unfortunately.

In the case of today’s Globally Harmonized System requirements, it’s not surprising that some executives are leery of new tool investments. We’ve seen many cases where companies buy complex software, only to find they must hire someone else to implement and troubleshoot the platform. Many have burned through their budgets and come away with unworkable systems.  

(We could promise you this is never an issue with our SDS authoring and SDS management tools, which are fully supported by an award-winning group of environmental, chemical, and compliance management experts. But that would undercut our next point. So keep reading…)

  1. Not Making Time to Compare Solutions for SDS and MSDS Sheets

There’s nothing wrong with being hands-on—especially for the leaders of small chemical/manufacturing companies, who might also be owners and cofounders—as long as you make the time to compare different SDS authoring and management solutions. Avoiding the issue, or assuming your teams can use the same manual authoring processes they’ve used in the past, will only open the door to business risks.

See exactly what those risks are, by reading the guide below.

 

View Guide on GHS Business Risks & Opportunities

 

Topics: SDS, Sustainability