February’s edition of the Synergist included the article Solving the Right Problems, by SiteHawk Senior Solutions Engineer Matt Adams. In the article, Matt introduces the concept of the EHSQ Maturity Curve, a construct describing organizational progression from regulatory compliance, through proactive insight into a state of leadership and stewardship.
Matt’s argument that EHSQ activities should be viewed on a continuum from compliance to leadership has people talking. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and many requests for more information. The most common request has been “Yes! Awesome! But make this real for me; help me connect this to my real world daily operations.”
Matt heard your feedback and stepped up to answer the challenge. In this exclusive follow-up article, Matt gets down to brass tacks and provides real-world examples of essential regulatory compliance actions and then illustrates the activities organizations can implement to proactively address risk and practical challenges.
The EHSQ Maturity Curve Applied to HazCom and Beyond
The EHSQ Maturity Curve can be applied both broadly and in niche areas of a business. A great example of a niche area in which best practices would follow this curve is chemical management. Chemical management best practices can be applied along the curve to first achieve compliance, then become proactive and eventually, lead the pack.
To operate a business, you must follow a multitude of regulations from a chemical management perspective. These regulations will vary by jurisdiction and industry.
A good example of a widely applicable regulation is OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom). Among the HazCom requirements is a duty to provide all employees with access to information for substances that they may be exposed to. This is done with hazard communication programs, training, container labeling and access to Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). A solution to meet compliance in this situation is to collect all SDSs received when purchasing materials and keep them in binders that are accessible to all employees in the work space. This method is laborious and can require a lot of busy-work to maintain the binders but is still a method to provide the necessary information to employees and meet compliance.
To move beyond compliance, binders can be automated with software that provides an intuitive search engine to find SDSs as opposed to flipping through paper documents. Some services will also maintain the actual SDS versions to ensure they are continuously being updated. Another proactive method to build on HazCom compliance is the introduction of a chemical approval process before new materials are purchased. This enables any potential risk to be assessed against substitutes and any process change considerations before buying. Building upon a compliance requirement like this is a great way to be proactive and further mitigate risk.
A way to truly move beyond the usual capabilities with chemical data is to have complete SDS content available at your fingertips. If there is a robust chemical approval in place and SDSs are easily accessible by all employees, employers will often look at additional chemical data contained within the SDS. There are services that will actually index valuable information from the SDSs of all products onsite. Unlocking this information promotes a deep understanding of what is onsite and the day-to-day risks that are faced by employees. Imagine being able to pull up a report of every item that is a carcinogen and where they are located within your facility. Moving forward you can opt to run product substitutions or additional training where previously unknown threats are uncovered.
Chemical information access as part of HazCom is a just one example of moving through the EHSQ Maturity Curve with a regulatory requirement. Organizations can begin this process by meeting requirements in the most straightforward way. They can then become proactive to further mitigate risk and continue pushing forward to make decisions with as much information as possible.