Managing Hidden Logistics Safety Risks

Posted by Paul Little on 13 January 2014

One of the hidden logistics safety risks associated with the distribution of chemicals is transport vehicles that enter your manufacturing facility to:

  • deliver raw materials and supplies (e.g., supplier deliveries) 
  • pickup customer product purchases (e.g., customer arranged transportation)

The risk associated with supplier deliveries and customer arranged transportation can often go unnoticed because the choice of carriers is not always visible to someone in your company. This lack of visibility doesn’t necessarily lessen your obligation to ensure a capable and qualified carrier is involved. Left unmanaged, a variety of incidents including chemical exposures, product releases and security breaches can occur if an unqualified carrier were to transport your raw materials and products. With a documented procedure and participation by your suppliers and customers, the transportation associated with supplier deliveries and customer arranged transportation can be safe, secure and compliant.

A4 is a practical 4-step process to guide you through the steps necessary to manage supplier deliveries and customer arranged transportation. The strength of this process is that it is a shared responsibility between suppliers, customers and your company to ensure safe, secure and compliant transportation of your inbound raw materials and outbound products.

a4v2The 4-step A4 process is as follows:

1. Assess: Step #1 is to ensure that carriers entering your facility have been assessed to determine if they are safe, compliant and technically capable of transporting your raw materials or products. This obligation is best placed with your suppliers and customers. Suppliers should understand the qualifications necessary to transport their chemicals, but you may need to provide your customers with some technical support and any minimum requirements you may have for the transportation of your products to help them evaluate their carriers.

2. Approve: Step #2 requires that suppliers and customers provide proof of their assessment and an approval of their selected carriers. Best to check with your Law Department for some recommended contract language. Some of the important conditions that you’ll want to include in a supplier/customer approval statement are that their carriers have:

  • The appropriate government licenses, permits and approvals
  • A satisfactory government safety rating
  • Insurance as specified by the applicable regulations and 
  • A satisfactory environmental, health, safety, security, regulatory compliance, emergency response and logistics safety performance. 

The supplier/customer should also notify you immediately if there is a change in the status of any of their approved carriers regarding these required conditions.

istock 000001586031xsmall truck at door3. Appoint: After receiving the approval, your logistics safety function should review the approval statements for completeness before posting the information internally. Your Procurement and Customer Service groups will need to confirm that an approved carrier is on file for each supplier delivery and customer pickup. Logistics safety may also choose to verify some of the performance conditions listed above by reviewing the motor carrier’s Safety Measurement System profile (e.g., for US-based carriers). A decision will also need to be made as to the frequency that suppliers and customers must recertify their carriers.

4. Appraise: The final step is to have your delivery and shipping locations confirm that an approved carrier has arrived for a delivery or pickup using the same on-line list posted for Procurement and Customer Service. This final step allows the site to appraise or verify that the carrier is indeed capable through a visual assessment of the vehicle and driver. This shared responsibility includes reviewing the driver’s credentials, providing a site safety orientation as well as accurate shipping papers and emergency response information for drivers picking up cargo.

For the A4 process to be successful, it must be flexible enough to accommodate your supply chain practices. This flexibility must be evident in the initial carrier assessments, the verification of the supplier/customer provided information and the appraisal of the arriving drivers. An additional opportunity to streamline this risk management initiative is to allow carriers that are certified under a safety management system, such as the Responsible Care® Partnership Program, to forgo the supplier/customer assessment phase. The site appraisal still provides the opportunity to assess the driver and their vehicle.

By sharing the responsibility with suppliers and customers, this hidden logistics safety risk can be managed and your logistics safety management system can be strengthened.