Testing of residues in products, chemicals or waste water is one instrument, but cannot replace the preventive management system. Failures of test results can result in negative cost intensive impacts such as claims, reproduction or disposal of produced goods.
Depending on the size of organisation responsible persons for chemical management with specific tasks have to be defined in different departments. E.g. in procurement, production, chemical storage, waste water treatment, product development, waste disposal and occupational health & safety.
Some certificates covering the site and chemical management practices can help, but plain product related certificates based on testing residues are not sufficient.
A chemical inventory is a list either digital or as hard copy where all chemical preparations and chemicals available on site are properly listed. As a minimum the trade name, supplier, quantity on stock, usage and hazardous classifications should be recorded. The documentation of additional data as recommended by ZDHC or the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is useful.
Knowing where chemicals are stored, provided in production and how surpluses or leftovers are handled is a crucial part of chemical management. In order to implement such a tracking system, barcodes or QR codes can help to identify the exact location in your facilities. If no sophisticated system is installed, at least a site map with places where chemicals are used and stored have to be in place.
The chemical inventory needs an update with every new purchase of a chemical product or amendments of regulations such as REACH, GHS labelling or Persistent Organic Pollutants POP etc..
The first point of contact is your chemical supplier or if you are participating in a certification scheme, the standard organization. Search for chemicals with bluesign, GOTS or ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX approval and compare the criteria with your customer MRSLs/RSLs. Some laboratories provide assistance for testing. ZDHC provides the Gateway Chemical Module to search compliant chemical preparations. gsm is offering you consultancy and technical evaluation of chemical preparations based on SDS and supporting documents from chemical manufacturers.
Facilities that store, transport, handle or process chemicals have a great responsibility when it comes to housekeeping and safety. Due to the nature of the materials being processed, industrial hygiene and safety practices must be at top level because they protect employees, communities and the environment from the substances used onsite. It is important to install housekeeping practices, such as spill protection and clean up, necessary engineering controls, maintenance of equipment and machinery, dust and fume collection, waste water drainage and treatment, waste collection and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Knowing the source where materials or chemicals are manufactured makes the management of chemicals easier to handle. Reliable and qualified suppliers are a key element for as successfully running chemical management system. Long-lasting relations with suppliers providing chemicals or materials of good and stable quality plus the required data transparency allow the selection of compliant chemicals and materials.
The first step is to know the hazards and risks related to chemicals used, stored and transported in your facility. Risk assessments help to implement the adequate measures to achieve the maximum workplace safety. E.g. health and safety policies, instructions for handling, storage and transportation of chemicals, displayed warning signs and posters, workers training, protective equipment, first aid, accident and illness reporting, qualified safety persons, safety checks, emergency plans and drills and right workplace facilities.
Standards or audit results such as BSCI, SA 8000, bluesign, STeP by OEKO-TEX, OHSAS 18001, BEPI or ZDHC can support you efforts to achieve the maximum occupational safety, but does not relieve you from the responsibility.