Industries have made considerable progress in identifying, characterizing, prioritizing, reducing, and eliminating many harmful chemicals from consumer products. Industries are also implementing responsible business and due diligence practices to address environment, health and safety risks posed by manufacturing process chemicals. The RBA is leading the development of responsible process chemical management practices across supply chains to protect the health of workers, their communities, and the environment. Advancing the sustainability of our chemical consumption activities requires holistic and systematic management of chemical safety risks, including facility-level environmental, health and safety practices with a strong focus on hazard identification, worker engagement, and occupational health.
Chemical Management Workgroup
To further address the ongoing challenge of reducing risks and protecting workers across supply chains, the RBA has made chemical management a priority issue. RBA members are working in partnership to collaborate on solutions to reduce chemical risks through the Chemical Management Workgroup. The Workgroup promotes the adoption of proven quality management systems to reduce chemical risks and strives to improve visibility and communication within supply chains and among stakeholders to bring attention to each process chemical’s potential hazards and requirements for safe use, handling and disposal. The Chemical Management Workgroup has worked to:
- Increase member awareness and involvement in the safe use of chemicals
- Develop training and capability-building resources to reduce harmful worker exposures, including online training courses and fact sheets for workers and managers on chemical management best practices
- Define adequate and effective practices for conducting chemical risk assessments, tracking and reporting of process chemicals, and engaging workers.
- Explore how to phase out hazardous chemicals of concern and pursue safer alternatives, where feasible
Our chemical management work has benefited from significant feedback from well-respected NGOs and is being conducted in collaboration with civil society organizations. We recognize there is still much work to do around the safe use and sustainable consumption of chemicals. The RBA and its members are committed to staying the course, working with partners, and making meaningful progress on this important issue.
Industry Focus Process Chemical Policy
The RBA introduced a new chemical policy in 2021, including an Industry Focus Process Chemical List (IFPCL), which outlines greater industry scrutiny and the need for the most protective levels of control to be utilized for the most hazardous chemicals.
The policy became effective January 1, 2022 and is operationalized through the Validated Assessment Program (VAP) and Specialty VAP (SVAP) on Chemical Management to prioritize more advanced, permanent, and protective levels of control in accordance with the Hierarchy of Controls. Learn more about the IFPCL Policy here.
SVAP on Chemical Management
The RBA SVAP on Chemical Management (SVAP-CM) is an assessment process used to evaluate and address chemical safety risks, including hazardous occupational exposures and chemical emergencies. SVAP-CM assessments are conducted by specialized auditors that have unique expertise in industrial hygiene and occupational safety. The elements of the SVAP-CM were carefully developed by the RBA with input from stakeholders, members, and third-party subject matter experts to create a specialized assessment program.
The SVAP-CM's scope focuses on RBA Code of Conduct provisions related to chemical management to provide a unique assessment program for better evaluation of facilities’ chemical safety risks.
The SVAP-CM isn't designed to expand upon RBA Code of Conduct requirements, but it provides a deeper dive on these provisions through additional complementary audit criteria that more acutely assess occupational safety, industrial hygiene, emergency preparedness, hazard communication, and the management of hazardous substances. The SVAP-CM is simply designed to better evaluate chemical management risks.
Learn more about the SVAP on Chemical Management here.
Chemical Leadership Recognition Program
The sound management of chemicals and hazardous substances is at the crossroads between environmental sustainability and human health. Many RBA members have prioritized chemical management as a key sustainability issue. The RBA is currently exploring the development of a program to credibly identify and commend industry leaders that are advancing chemical management due diligence practices across supply chains. In addition to promoting awareness, adoption, and dissemination of more sustainable chemical management principles, the RBA’s Chemical Leadership Recognition Program will drive collective action, increased transparency, and harmonization of supply chain chemical management standards.