[ID] => 10300
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2018-11-01 08:44:06
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-01 08:44:06
[post_content] => It is now more than 25 years since the European chemical industry, through its trade association the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), decided that safety could be improved throughout the supply chain by the introduction of a standardised system of auditing logistics service providers (LSPs) against safety and quality benchmarks.
The resulting Safety and Quality Assessment System (SQAS) – now expanded and renamed Safety and Quality Assessment for Sustainability – has become a cornerstone of industry’s efforts to improve safety in its logistics operations and, more recently, to make sustainability an integral element of those operations.
However, as Cefic prepares to introduce revisions to some of the SQAS questionnaires in 2019, the European Chemical Transport Association (ECTA), which has been involved in the development and improvement of SQAS for the past 20 years, has raised serious concerns about the way in which the system is increasingly being used by the chemical industry.
ECTA says that its members have reported rising numbers of instances where SQAS is being misused by chemical companies, particularly in the last two years. The issue has been raised by ECTA with chemical industry representatives, although this does not seem to have improved matters.
As a result, at its annual board meeting on 28 September, ECTA decided to prepare a Position Paper on the implementation of SQAS 2019, making its concerns clear. That Paper also stressed ECTA’s willingness to work together with Cefic to ensure that SQAS remains the best audit system for the logistics sector and continues to be a vital part of ECTA members’ commitment to Responsible Care.
WHERE IT’S GOING WRONG
ECTA explains the current position thus: “During the last few years a steadily growing number of complaints has been communicated to ECTA by its members (and others). We believe that this deterioration has further continued during 2017 and particularly during 2018 where our ECTA members are witnessing observations and company behaviours which undermine SQAS as a best practice.”
In particular, ECTA says, there has been “a steady decline in the willingness of chemical industry representatives to use SQAS as it is intended”. Comments added to the completed assessments by the assessed companies are often ignored, users perhaps having forgotten that the point of these comments is to allow assessed companies to provide a status report on the implementation of measures to address areas where low scores were recorded. It appears that these comments are now being used primarily as a tool for evaluating assessors.
ECTA also says that the perennial problem of SQAS scores being used to give an impression of overall safety and quality compliance. The original intention was that chemical companies – the users of the system – would create their own templates to focus on those areas of assessment of relevance to their operations. Recently it seems that the ‘SQAS scoring percentages’ have become relied upon as the single norm on which to take business decisions, to the extent that some chemical logistics companies now consider the SQAS
score as more important than the content.
Perhaps most worryingly, ECTA says that some chemical companies have started undertaking their own assessments, on top of the SQAS audit. This is taking LSPs to the situation that obtained back in the early 1990s, with too much time spent dealing with safety audits ordered by their customers. ECTA also urges chemical companies to engage with those LSPs that have not yet been audited according to SQAS to spread the message and ensure that SQAS is regarded as widely as possible as the industry benchmark.
Worse still, some chemical companies have been promoting or developing completely different assessment systems or versions of SQAS that are out of Cefic’s control. The first is
a repetition of work and thus an increase in costs. ECTA strongly doubts the added
value of additional assessment systems covering the same subjects. The improper practices added to the SQAS implementation by individual chemical companies (such as the imposition by the chemical company of the choice of assessor) may not be in compliance with European legislation.
In recent years, ECTA members have seen a change in the ‘enforcement’ of SQAS by Cefic, particularly towards its own members. It is not transparent how this control has slipped away. While each individual chemical company can and will make its own choices, the SQAS rules have been decided together and deviations or misuse of the system should be addressed more strongly, more aggressively and more transparently, ECTA says. While there is nothing to stop any particular chemical company from designing its own assessment system, it should do so openly and discontinue use of SQAS.
BACK TO BASICS
ECTA’s Board of Directors say they are “gravely concerned” about the deteriorating stature
of SQAS and urge the chemical industry to remember the reasons for the establishment of the system in the first place. Correct and more professional use of the SQAS audit system can contribute to securing the safe and compliant movement of chemicals throughout Europe.
ECTA confirms its commitment to maintaining the strength of the system and pleads for an open dialogue to use SQAS as it was originally intended. At the same time ECTA has made an offer to meet with high level representatives of Cefic to further understand the business drivers behind the above observations, to discuss the current situation and consider possible steps to be taken to improve that situation during the launch of the new SQAS 2019 version.
ECTA is keen to hear from more companies with their experience of the misuse of SQAS, while also stressing that its concerns should not be taken as a criticism of SQAS itself or of those chemical companies that use it appropriately.
SQAS 2019 will be used from 1 January 2019; the revised questionnaires and other documentation can be found on the SQAS website. This also identifies where changes have been made to the previous, 2015 questionnaires. ECTA notes that the revision is the result of great effort by a range of industry interests, in which it has taken a leading part, and recognises the work of Cefic’s Victor Trapani, who coordinated those efforts.
[post_title] => SQAS: We can work it out
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => sqas-can-work
[post_modified] => 2018-10-31 15:03:33
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-31 15:03:33
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10300
[menu_order] => 0
[post_type] => post
[comment_count] => 0
[filter] => raw
Logistics service providers are alarmed by the way their chemical customers are misusing their jointly agreed audit system. ECTA wants change