A New SQAS
Logistics Assessment Tackles Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, Security and Technology
SQAS is widely recognized as a world-class system for the assessment of the safety, health, environment, quality and security performance of logistics service providers and distributors. Safety & Quality Assessment System (SQAS) was created more than 20 years ago by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and had another renewal this year.
Since the last major revision of SQAS in 2011, several new best practice guidelines have been developed and published by CEFIC in cooperation with the European Chemical Transport Association (ECTA) and the European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC). At the same time other assessment systems that cover corporate social responsibility (CSR) — such as the Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative — were created.
The new SQAS questionnaires have incorporated all of these new aspects. While those in the chemical logistics sector might be aware of some of the new guidelines in best practice, particularly regarding loading/unloading and behavior-based safety (BBS), the inclusion of CSR issues may present something of a challenge, particularly for smaller operators.
SQAS Becomes Sustainable
SQAS has incorporated several sustainability requirements. In broad terms, SQAS 2015 has been expanded in four main areas.
1. The inclusion of CSR questions looks at issues such as:
- Social aspects, including nondiscrimination, performance reviews for employees, career planning, recruitment processes, etc.
- Fair business practices, including anti-corruption and bribery, anti-competitive practices, conflict of interest and fraud.
2. References to new guidelines such as:
- Safe loading/unloading of road freight vehicles.
- BBS guidelines for drivers.
- Safety risk assessments for chemical transport operations.
- Investigation of transport accidents and incidents and root cause analysis.
- Safe working at height.
3. Greater emphasis on security risk mitigation, the reporting of nonconformities and accident investigation.
4. Additional questions look at the application and implementation of up-to-date technologies in operations and safety management.
SQAS is breaking its own records, year after year. Last year saw a record number of 930 SQAS assessments, 4% more than in 2013 (see figure). In particular, there were more assessments of transport service providers, cleaning stations and warehouses. The number of consultations by chemical companies rose to 4,490 last year, the highest level since 2007.
Growing with SQAS
Europe’s experience with SQAS — which, it should be remembered, is an initiative kicked off by the chemical industry itself — is being watched in other parts of the world. To some extent it is being taken into new territories by chemical manufacturers, as they want to be seen to be operating to the same standards of quality and safety at all their sites, wherever they may be.
CEFIC is providing assistance in several parts of the world, often in cooperation with similar local associations. It signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2013 with the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) to set up a version of SQAS for the Middle East. Gulf SQAS is now undergoing a pilot program with the participation of European assessors to supervise their local counterparts.
Another MoU was signed with the Taiwan Responsible Care Association (TRCA) to develop a SQAS scheme in this country. Representatives from the CEFIC Technical & Accreditation Committee (T&A) assisted TRCA in the organization of a SQAS training conference in Taipei in December. The event was attended by local assessors, chemical company members and logistics representatives.
CEFIC T&A representatives also assisted the Association of International Chemical Manufacturers (AICM) in China to organize a re-accreditation training of assessors. The December event in Shanghai was attended by local assessors and chemical company members.