How to solve your chemical and product approval problems


A solid approval and purchasing process for chemicals is the best way to avoid undocumented dangerous chemicals entering the workplace. You must have a clear understanding of the required information and the ways to collect it. Also, you need to know the departments that the product must go through.

This article will help you understand the obstacles that ERA clients have faced in their product approval processes, how a chemical approval program can provide ease and momentum, and what to consider when using software to overcome these obstacles.

It is important to determine the data type needed before exploring the challenges of the product approval flow. The type of information required to complete the product approval process can be found on the safety data sheets, environmental data sheets, and other materials that are provided by the manufacturer. These documents include critical chemical information such as physical characteristics and potential hazards.

You must define clearly the data required for each product to give the safety and environment managers enough information to evaluate the product. This will help you to determine the process flow, identify the steps required, and the types of chemicals and materials that your facility uses.

What are the challenges in the product approval process flow, and how to fix them?

Many chemical and product approval challenges lead to delays or incorrect approval procedures. The most common obstacles are:

  • Information on chemicals from the manufacturer.
  • Lack of transparency in workflow and disorganized coordination between departments.
  • Unable to flag chemicals that have already been approved
  • Notifying parties involved of data changes and correcting errors.

The manufacturer of the product is the best resource for product information. They keep all records relating to the products that they supply, and they are an important factor in the product approval process. Inability to get chemical information from manufacturers results in inaccessible product specs, which are the biggest challenge for product approval. The health and safety manager will not be able to determine what personal protective equipment is required for the floor workers without this information. OSHA’s safety standards cover all types of products that can be used in manufacturing facilities. They also include details about how employees are trained , retrained and how exposures are monitored.

A perfect platform for product approval should allow seamless communications with your manufacturers or suppliers. It is important to allow them to input data directly into the system, as they have more knowledge about their product. This will save you time by not having to manually extract information from your SDS. You can access chemical data more efficiently with seamless communications from the manufacturer.

Having multiple departments involved in the approval process can be a challenge for many organizations. Documents must be reviewed by a Health and Safety Manager, who will determine the PPE needed for working with and handling the chemical. An environmental manager will assess the impact that product usage has on compliance goals. The intended use of the chemical must be used by other parties to determine the level of risk. If a chemical was used for cleaning in a production environment, it would be necessary to determine the risk level for cleaners versus factory workers. This may require two health and safety officials to assess. Even if a product performs the same function (for example, a cleaner used for immersion cleaning or spray cleaning), it may pose different risks. This means that it needs to be approved for both uses. The approval process is complicated by this extra step.

Transparency of workflow can be a challenge for most product approval processes. It can be difficult to identify the stage in the approval process. It can be difficult to move approvals along if they are dependent on one another.

Transparency clearly defines internal company responsibilities, and everyone is held accountable. Before signing off on the introduction of a product, senior leadership must have a clear picture of how it is handled in the facility.

As shown in the ERA Process Flow example below, the ideal solution for workflow transparency and reducing the amount of correspondence between departments is to make sure that your system contains a sequence of events that address each department. Each checkpoint is notified to all parties involved, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks. This can be done manually, but ERA handles all notifications, avoiding confusing and long email chains.

The challenge is also in flagging s that have already been approved. Limiting the number of reapprovals due to the tedious nature of the process is essential. It is important to be able to identify products that have already been approved within your system immediately after they’ve been logged in, whether at the facility level or corporate.

Your system should flag products that have already been approved before they are put through the multiple-step process. If you are a company with multiple locations, and you need to endorse five products for 12 different facilities, then you will have to do the approval process 60 times. The software can store the information of the manufacturer, simplifying the process.

Correcting errors and adding information is difficult without a fluid workflow. If an error is discovered halfway through the approval procedure, such as a mistake in identifying the end use of a chemical or logging the incorrect CAS number, it can disrupt the entire process. The product must be re-routed through all previous departments in the correct order. This error must be corrected, and all previous approvers must be notified of the change. This involves manually copying all the people involved on an email chain without a sound system.

A workflow that includes additional information, error correction, and other factors is essential to this process. Everyone will receive an update, and the approval process can be completed quickly.

ERA’s Platform for Product Approval

ERA’s product approval platform addresses the above challenges using advanced technology, dynamic, brilliant, and intelligent forms. Centralize your product approval while getting accurate information from vendors and manufacturers.

Schedule a call below with a Project Analyst to learn more about ERA’s Product approval platform. 

This blog collaborated with Francesca Sajedi, Environmental Scientist at ERA, and Kundai Murfara, Science Content and Technical Writer.

Francesca Sajedi, an environmental scientist with ERA Environmental Management Solutions, is scheduled to retire on September 7, 2022. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Bioinformatics from Wheaton College. She specializes in implementing environmental software at ERA and thoroughly understands the data needed for multiple reports, including TRI. She is leading the Product Approval Module, which will standardize and digitalize every approval process step.

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