Where Should the Logistics Safety Function be Positioned?

Posted by Paul Little on 28 April 2014

With the goal of a high functioning logistics safety program, the strategy to achieve it must include a discussion of where the logistics safety program must be lead from in order to ensure success. Logistics safety involves compliance with transportation regulations and trade organization initiatives such Responsible Care®, during the inbound and outbound transportation and storage of your raw materials, waste and chemical products.

Any initiative that has strong leadership is more likely to succeed. Effective leadership and leading from a position of strength and influence are two characteristics that should be built into an organization’s logistics safety commitment in order to ensure success. An effective logistics safety program requires committed employees with the following collective knowledge:

  • istock 000019410171small monitor on a deskRegulatory compliance
  • Behavioral safety
  • Chemical handling
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental science
  • Planning & management systems
  • Product stewardship
  • Risk management
  • Toxicology
  • Training
  • Transportation safety
  • Asset management
  • Vision and leadership

This lengthy list of skills must obviously reside in a team, not in an individual, which further underscores the need for a strong logistics safety leader, someone to move the team toward its goals. Given this suggestion, here are several considerations when determining the location of the logistics safety function and its leader.

Considerations When Positioning Logistics Safety

1. Where supply chain decisions are made

When positioning the logistics safety function, the first consideration is to ensure it has access to the company’s supply chain decision makers. Successful management of change is an important criteria that leads to an effective logistics safety program. Learning firsthand about upcoming supply chain changes, such as new products and raw materials, new containers and modes of transportation or new logistics service providers is instrumental in developing safe, secure and compliant logistics safety practices. The discovery of these changes after the fact will relegate the logistics safety leader to a reactionary problem solver rather than a proactive hazmat solution provider.  

2. Access to functions that influence hazmat activities

In addition to supply chain access, the logistics safety function must also have working access to the virtual team of employees that can influence safe, secure and compliant logistics. The logistics safety function must effectively interact with the following company functions to manage and improve logistics safety practices:

  • Health & Safety (classification & shipping descriptions for SDS)
  • Procurement (raw material & supplier risk assessments)
  • Product Stewards (product risk reviews)
  • Corporate Security (logistics security)
  • Supply Chain (management of change)
  • Shipping/Receiving (training & implementing regulations)
  • Logistics (service provider selection & performance management)
  • Trade Compliance (import security)
  • Emergency Response and Crisis Management (response coordination)
  • Asset Management (IBC and tank car maintenance)

3. Access to Logistics Service Providers

An additional consideration when positioning the logistics safety function is access to logistics service providers (LSP). Once a hazardous material is classified, described, marked, labeled and is in proper condition for transportation as determined by the shipper, it is the LSP that takes possession of the hazmat. The LSP directly manages the storage, transloading/unloading and transportation of the hazmat. By being involved in the selection and management of LSPs, the logistics safety leader can ensure that the company's hazmats are being handled appropriately, from loading through to delivery to the consignee. Not all hazmats can or should be handled in the same manner and the logistics safety function can ensure the appropriate handling practices are implemented. By ensuring that the company’s logistics safety practices are consistently implemented throughout the supply chain, a high level of performance can be achieved.

In conclusion, the success of a logistics safety program is reliant on a logistics safety leader that is well positioned within the company to work with internal and external stakeholders. No specific department is the correct home for the logistics safety function and its leadership. Each organization must identify where the logistics safety stakeholders reside and then consider the best position within the company for the logistics safety function.

Comments: Where does the logistics safety function reside in your company and why?