Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Select a Safer Alternative: Key Questions & Display Results

Decisions that thoughtfully weigh the pros and cons of safer alternatives benefit your company and your workforce. This step will help you organize information on hazard, cost, and performance, as well as evaluate potential trade-offs, in order to select alternatives that will improve worker safety and health.

Key Questions:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative with regard to hazard, performance, and cost?
  • What trade-offs exist for each alternative?
  • How should the various criteria and impacts be weighed to select alternatives that best enhance worker safety and health?
  • Are there other considerations to weigh when determining the best option (energy use, water use, environmental impacts, hazardous waste management, upstream or downstream hazards to workers, etc.)?

Display Results:

After gathering information about potential alternative chemicals, materials, products or processes, it is important to organize the data for each alternative, including information about the data sources, quality, and gaps. Thoughtfully presenting the data gathered during an alternatives assessment can help facilitate the decision-making process. The Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse provides some useful models for arraying data in ways that allow decision-makers to visualize gaps and identify tradeoffs.

Key Example

U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment Program Alternatives Assessments

After completing an alternatives assessment, the Design for the Environment Program compiles hazard data for each alternative evaluated in order to facilitate decision-making. The results are presented qualitatively by endpoint and also clarify the origin of the data (i.e., experimental, estimated values, professional judgment).
Safer Alternatives Presenting

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Assess & Compare: Assess Cost

Assess Cost

Finally, alternatives should be assessed and compared based on their cost. While a full cost-benefit analysis of all the alternative options is quite costly and not essential, it is important to thoroughly consider relevant cost impacts, both positive and negative, on your company. Completing such an economic analysis will also help you make the business case for transitioning to safer alternatives. Some costs and benefits that you might consider in your evaluation include:

Direct Costs

  • Capital expenditures
  • Operating costs
  • Material costs
  • Maintenance costs

Indirect Costs

  • Supervision and administrative costs
  • Regulatory compliance costs
  • Worker health and safety costs (PPE, lost employee time, etc.)
  • Waste management expenditures, including hazardous waste disposal costs
  • Insurance, rent, taxes

Liability Costs

  • Penalties and fines
  • Personal injury
  • Worker Compensation
  • Property damage
  • Clean-up costs
  • Natural resources damage

Less Tangible Benefits

  • Increased sales due to improved product quality, enhanced public image, consumer trust in greener products, or other effects
  • Reduced health maintenance costs due to a safer work environment
  • Improved worker productivity due to cleaner working conditions
  • Increased worker productivity due to improved employee relations

Key Example

Cost Assessment Methodology

European Commission’s Cost Assessment Methodology

The European Commission’s Guidance on Minimizing Chemical Risk to Workers’ Health and Safety Through Substitution provides a detailed table to help small and medium-sized businesses identify costs to take into account. The table includes parameters for evaluating material costs, equipment costs, safety costs, time related costs, waste costs, and the costs of risk. This table is also useful for presenting the impacts and consequences of a substitution to management.