How Can a Chemical Management System Help Specialty Chemicals Firms Avoid Costly Losses?

Chemical Inventory Management

chemical management
While companies may be able to tolerate fines for safety violations, the cost to their reputation and public image may be unsalvageable. How can a chemical management system prevent this from happening?
Image source: Flickr CC user Jorge Franganillo

The state of Texas has been having a bad run of luck with major chemical plants located within its borders lately. In fact, you could even say that “bad luck” is understating the severity of the situation. In 2013, a fertilizer plant located in West caught on fire. A La Porte DuPont pesticide plant suffered from a toxic chemical leak late last year. Both incidents resulted in deaths. In addition, the West facility explosion caused damage to hundreds of surrounding buildings. And as if those two incidents weren’t tragic enough, yet another fire and explosion took place at a gas processing plant located in Reeves County in early December.1

With three incidents in as many years, it’s no surprise that Texas legislators are facing pressure to change current regulatory guidelines. In the case of the West fertilizer plant, lawmakers passed new legislation intended to address the issues that led up to the 2013 explosion. But is this truly enough? The DuPont plant had a history of safety violations and environmental citations.2 More to the point, further investigation into the three incidents revealed that all of the facilities had a record of infractions. If this is true, why weren’t these oversights previously corrected?

The Costs of Poor Chemical Management

While the fines handed down by regulatory agencies in cases of violations may appear tolerable at first glance, the reality paints a different picture. The West fertilizer explosion led to several lawsuits. That’s in addition to the cost of the structural damage caused by the accident. Potentially millions of dollars could be involved in settling these issues. Can a company handle the economic impact?

Financial losses aren’t the only thing companies have to worry about either. The DuPont pesticide factory closed and has yet to reopen. To make matters worse, the U.S. Department of Labor placed DuPont on its “severe violator” list. The program devotes extra resources to inspect companies that have failed to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.3 More inspections mean more opportunities to uncover violations, which could lead to more fines. As a result, the company will need to invest resources of its own to address those infractions. Never mind the black mark this leaves upon DuPont’s public image. Not only does it affect the public’s trust in the company, it influences employee morale. No company should have to deal with this situation, especially since it can be easily avoided with the use of an effective chemical management system.

A Chemical Management System Can Prevent Costly Accidents

Even though we’ve been focusing on the three Texas incidents, chemical accidents as the result of safety violations are happening nationwide. The Texas legislature has begun the process of changing present safety regulations and more states are sure to follow. Given the recent December explosion, the pressure to close gaps in regulatory oversight across the United States is certain to increase.

To prevent accidents that could attract the negative attention of regulatory agencies and the public, chemical companies need to ensure that they have a robust chemical management system in place. The benefits of such a system include:

  • Easily accessible safety information that includes how to properly store, handle and dispose of chemicals
  • An inventory system that informs users how much of a specific chemical is available on-site and where it is located
  • Highlighting crucial details such as date of receipt and date of expiration

All of the above are important in promoting a safe working environment, but they especially make preparing for regulatory inspections easier. For example, expired chemicals can be identified and located within minutes and then disposed of correctly, without harming employees or the environment. Companies that are prepared for inspections will pass with fewer violations, thus minimizing fines, increased scrutiny and tarnished reputations.

Is your chemical company interested in avoiding costly losses through preventing accidents and maintaining a safe workplace? Do you want to prepare yourself for tighter regulatory guidelines? BIOVIA CISPro is a digital chemical management system that comes equipped with several tools that can help accomplish your goals. Its cloud-based platform allows users to track chemical inventory in real time, meet regulatory standards, and access safety data sheets from one centralized location. Please contact us today to learn more.

  1. “OSHA Investigating Explosion at Orla Gas Plant Previously Fined for Violations,” December 5, 2015, http://www.newswest9.com/story/30673957/osha-investigating-explosion-at-orla-gas-plant-previously-fined-for-violations
  2. “Editorial: Accidents waiting to happen at major chemical plants?” November 24, 2015, http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20151124-editorial-accidents-waiting-to-happen-at-major-chemical-plants.ece
  3. “US labels DuPont as ‘severe’ safety violator after chemical plant accidents,” July 10, 2015, http://www.hydrocarbonprocessing.com/Article/3469975/US-labels-DuPont-as-severe-safety-violator-after-chemical-plant-accidents.html?ArticleId=3469975

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