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How A WMS Can Help You Keep Up With Industry Standards

By david.yarbrough | July 24, 2015 | Blog

New regulations and standards can be confusing and frustrating. Standards like the Hazard Communication Standards that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which went into effect this year, require visibility, traceability, and excellent record-keeping.

New laws and regulations can have significant effects on 3PLs that deal with products and materials from many different industries. A consistent, all-in-one WMS system keeps you in the know and in control of how your business handles these kinds of transitions.

The Right Technology

Having the right technology makes it much easier to keep things up-to-date and in compliance. It lets you instantly update and access your company’s records so you can not only keep up with new laws, but show compliance—without having to waste valuable manpower and labor hours digging through physical records and files.

And being able to prove compliance ensures your business won’t be hit with citations, fines, or sanctions. Accuracy and accessibility of records is also crucial in case of disruptive events like a major product recall.

New Standards

This year, the OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standards (HCS) went into effect, requiring all business that deal with the production, import, and distribution of hazardous chemical materials to keep all such materials properly classified and labeled according to the new guidelines.

As of June 1, the OSHA’s Compliance Safety and Health Officers are authorized to issue citations for businesses including chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors that are not in compliance with the new standards. (Distributors have until December 1, 2015 to replace all labels on shipped chemicals with HCA-compliant ones.)

Keep Documentation

To protect yourself from citation, document your efforts. If your business is affected and you still haven’t received classification information, keep records of what you’ve done to try and get the information you need to be in compliance with the new standards. Ask your upstream suppliers for the information directly, try to obtain it from other sources, and, if needed, classify the materials yourselves.

Even if you’re not the supplier or importer, you’re responsible for compliance so these measures succeed in improving understanding and safety in the workplace.

Things to Remember

Remember too that your state may have its own standards and enforcement policies that differ from the federal standards and policies. Make sure you know if your state has an OSHA-approved state plan and what it says.

Other recent legislation will affect those who work with and store products in the food industry and in the drug supply chain. The new Food Safety Modernization Act standards and Drug Supply Chain Security Act will become enforceable in the next few years. Like the OSHA’s new HSC standards, at their core, these new regulations are about ensuring safety by insisting on information access, tracking, and transparency from these industries.

You know that in business, change is simply reality. Markets change, industries change, products and client needs change. Improvement always means change. If you have the right tools—and the right technology—you can stay in control through it all.