"The chemical management system will protect peoples health and safety, as well as the environment"

"The chemical management system will protect people's health and safety, as well as the environment"

Inspection and verification company SGS has developed a tool suppliers in the apparel industry can use to implement a chemical management system that it says will protect people's health and safety, as well as the environment.

The 4C model has four sections: Commitment, Competence, Critical Point Control and Comprehensive System. Its aim is to highlight the issue of chemical management within the apparel industry and offer a solution. 

"Every year, the apparel industry uses large amounts of chemicals – including some that are hazardous," SGS explains. "This means there is potential risk to workers during manufacturing, while the finished articles may pose risks to retailers, consumers and the environment.

"To protect people's health and safety, as well as the environment, increasingly strict laws and regulations on chemicals are being published. Complying with these laws requires investment and commitment – which not all manufacturers will find easy."

The 4C model offers guidance, as follows: 

  • Commitment - Before implementing a chemical management programme, your company should analyse the industry situation. The analysis should include an investigation into the latest trends concerning the best available chemical management techniques and practices.
  • Competence - Establish a special team, led by one person with overall responsibility for chemical management. This person must have a chemical and environmental background, knowledge of legislation, a familiarity of raw materials and the production process, an understanding of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) system of classification, and the ability to evaluate the acceptability of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
  • Critical Point Control - When launching a chemical management programme, critical point control is the priority. Based on the flow and use of each chemical in the manufacturing plant, critical points are classified as: Input (raw materials and chemicals); In Processing (product manufacturing output); and product and waste discharge.
  • Comprehensive System - Continuous improvement is an important element of any comprehensive programme. It can improve efficiency and reduce the error rate regarding hazardous chemicals. The company can refer to, or adopt, various international standards, codes of conduct, and industrial best practices to improve and perfect their system.