5 Myths About Logistics Safety

Posted by Paul Little on 25 February 2014

Logistics safety is the management of transportation compliance and the environmental, health, safety and security aspects of your supply chain. Adherence to good logistics safety principles supports safe, secure and compliant transportation, off-site storage and handling of your company’s chemical products, raw materials and waste.

All too often, shippers of hazardous materials (hazmat) will expect compliance and safe operations without making a full commitment to logistics safety. Here are some common myths about logistics safety, myths that stand in the way of raising the bar on logistics safety performance.

Common Logistics Safety Myths

myth image11. Logistics Safety Increases Supply Chain Costs

Today’s supply chains must operate efficiently and eliminate waste. However, running your shipping operation using procedures that may appear to be efficient but transfer some of the cost to a different point in your supply chain is a distraction from the real issue. Example: Using procedures that ignore best practices in loading trailers and sea containers creates opportunities for shifting and falling freight to arrive leaking and damaged. This lack of discipline when loading freight will transfer some of the cost to emergency response.

2. Logistics Safety Requires More Employees

This myth got its start from the idea that logistics safety was someone else’s job and you must hire that someone else to ensure logistics safety succeeds. The fact is logistics safety is everyone’s (everyone in your supply chain) responsibility. It’s a team commitment where the effort is a shared obligation. When logistics safety procedures are integrated into existing supply chain operations, the work is accomplished efficiently at the most appropriate stage of the supply chain.

3. Logistics Safety Starts After Your Shipment Departs

Logistics is much more than transportation and storage of hazmat, so it stands to reason that logistics safety should start well before your carrier pulls away from the loading dock with your cargo. Logistics safety starts with an understanding of the compliance requirements and then builds in the safeguards and best practices to prepare your cargo for safe, secure and compliant transportation and off-site storage. Improperly prepared cargo with missing hazmat labels on your arriving inventory will distract your warehouse supplier from providing superior service. Improperly prepared, packaged and secured hazmat may be damaged and possibly leaking on route to your customer, impacting your carrier's ability to meet your on-time delivery window. Preparing your hazmats begins with sound logistics safety processes.

4. Logistics Safety Doesn't Provide a Competitive Advantage

The value of superior logistics safety is difficult to measure, but it’s clear that product that arrives:

  • Late
  • Leaking or
  • Damaged

suggests a weak supply chain, a supply chain that will likely never meet or exceed your customer's expectations. It is the absence of logistics safety that can disrupt your supply chain. Procedural gaps such as compliance errors that cause inspections that in turn disrupt your shipping operation, the lack of load securement that quarantines ocean shipments at the port and distribution incidents that render containers unsalable are the result. These are symptoms of a disregard for logistics safety that can quickly distance you from your customer.

5. We Just Do the Best We Can

Honest efforts to understand the law are not sufficient. The public demands safe transportation of hazardous materials as evidenced by the continuing coverage of the crude-by-rail issue. No shipper wants the public scrutinizing their supply chain. With social media, everyone is a reporter with an opportunity to voice their opinion. Everyone that participates in your supply chain expects an injury-free workplace, but they are at risk if your hazmats aren't:

  • Classified correctly
  • Marked and labeled appropriately
  • Placed in an acceptable container and
  • Closed using the manufacturer’s instructions

The hazardous materials regulations were developed to insure that hazmats don’t pose an unacceptable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce and logistics safety management systems support this goal.

The best way to improve your logistics safety practices is to challenge your reasons for not:

  • Adopting a systematic approach such as a logistics safety management system
  • Appointing a leader for logistics safety in your company
  • Establishing specific logistics safety goals
  • Addressing your compliance gaps
  • Providing management oversight of the logistics safety role