Concerned About Compliance Costs? How a Chemical Inventory Management System Can Help

compliance costs
REACH has currently classified lavender oil as a chemical. Unless this is changed, farmers in France will need to consider the increasing cost of compliance.
Image source: Kved via Wikimedia.org

In the south of France, a region called Provence has captivated people for ages. Although it is near the Mediterranean Sea and has some lovely vineyards, the region is not famous for its beaches or wine. It is widely known for its beautiful and vast lavender fields.

However, the beauty of these fields has been tarnished in recent months with billboards and signs proclaiming “Lavender is not a chemical.” The signage is in response to the European Union’s REACH rules that have classified lavender as an industrial chemical because it has the potential to produce allergic reactions in some people. As such, any products containing lavender or lavender oil will now have to be labeled with various warning labels, such as “CAN BE POISONOUS IF SWALLOWED.”

The farmers who make their living growing lavender in Provence responded to this by claiming that lavender has been used by humans for centuries and it has never been know to cause a fatality. They have requested that lavender be taken off the chemical regulation list and managed instead by agricultural rules. Their biggest complaint about the regulation is not the warning label, but something that strikes closer to their pocketbooks – the cost of compliance.

Regardless of whether you are a lavender farmer in Provence or an agrichemical business in the United States, compliance costs associated with chemical management can be significant. There are regulatory reports that need to be generated, audits that need to be performed, best practices that need to be followed and internal controls that need to be managed. If handled manually, the costs can be steep. However, compliance costs can be reduced if a chemical management system is used instead.

A chemical management system can reduce compliance costs in the following ways:

  • Reduce Management Costs – When tracked on paper, managing Safety Data Sheets (SDS) can be a large component of the expense associated with chemical compliance in both the United States and Europe. It can require storage space to file each SDS and personnel to ensure that sheets are received, stored and updated. However, a chemical management system can simplify this process by allowing for the format of the SDS to shift from paper-based to digital. A digital format allows all of the SDS to be stored on a single server, reducing storage costs. It also reduces personnel costs within the compliance department since managing numerous hardcopy files are no longer necessary.
  • Reduce Tracking Costs – For certain chemicals, both the Unites States and Europe have rules regarding the quantity that can be kept on-hand. Tracking this information manually requires performing regular audits of on-hand quantities, which entails locating and counting them. In comparison, a chemical management system has the ability to reduce the cost of compliance through functionality associated with the tracking and reporting the current on-hand quantity. In addition, in the cases when visual confirmation is necessary, a chemical management system can provide specific information regarding where a chemical is stored, reducing the overall search time.
  • Reduce Disposal Costs – When compared to a paper-based system, a chemical management system can provide insight into the date of receipt as well as the date of expiration. Coupling this information with specific chemical storage location means that any purchasing manager should be able to reduce the disposal costs by ensuring that chemicals are used before they reach the end of their shelf life.
  • Reduce Reporting Costs – Government regulators frequently require the generation of reports to demonstrate that laboratories are compliant. With a chemical management system, the reports can be generated automatically based upon what is recorded and stored within the database. This functionality can save both time and money for those concerned with efficient chemical management.
  • Reduce Facility Costs – Prior to purchasing space where chemicals will be stored or used, the local government will require reports regarding the hazard classification of any chemicals to be stored at the site. Manually, this can be a very time-consuming task. However, a chemical management system can quickly generate these reports to satisfy government demands prior to the issuance of permits, thus reducing the overall cost of the facility.

 

The lavender farmers in Provence may eventually be successful in their struggle against REACH classification and have lavender oil reclassified as an agricultural product. If that happens, they will no longer need to worry about chemical compliance costs. As for the rest of us, reducing compliance costs is still something we need to consider. If implemented, a chemical management system can quickly provide savings in terms of both time and money.

Accelrys CISPro is a chemical management system designed to help laboratories reduce the cost of compliance. For more information on how this system can meet your inventory management needs, please visit our website today.

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