The chemical industry is hard at work contributing towards South Africa meeting the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). According to the Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA), this is based on the implementation of eight Responsible Care management practice standards (MPSs).
Management commitment, the first of the eight MPSs, is the key to achieving sustainability. Deidre Penfold, CAIA executive director, says the Responsible Care programme, launched in 1985, is the prevailing ethic that guides the health, safety and environmental performance of the global chemical industry.
CAIA considers management’s commitment to sustainable development an overarching goal. It also assists in fulfilling the following SDGs: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.
The objective of this standard is to provide guidance to member companies that commit to Responsible Care, as well as in terms of their responsibilities for crosscutting elements of the initiative. Due to the major implications and responsibility associated with a management team, the management commitment MPS is specific and based on the following seven requirements:
Responsible Care must be implemented as a key component of a company’s business strategy.
The board is to understand and support it, and must incorporate the associated performance goals, targets or objectives into employee performance evaluations.
Management must also provide opportunities for employees to participate in developing, implementing and reviewing Responsible Care within the company.
Public comments, concerns and complaints must be taken seriously with the introduction of necessary mechanisms. Management must also establish dialogue with the communities adjacent to its sites in order to address any concerns relating to operations.
This requires the provision of a written policy, as well as plans, programmes and procedures for achieving continuous improvement of performance.
It is important to measure performance and audits for achieving or maintaining compliance and the implementation of corrective actions. Timely investigation, reporting and follow-up of incidents are also crucial.
The identification and dissemination of all applicable legislation and Responsible Care requirements covering the full product lifecycle must be ensured. Compliance with all applicable legislation is also crucial as is striving for performance beyond legal compliance.
Management must also co-operate with all other interested parties, government, NGOs, and other chemical companies in creating responsible laws, regulations and standards to safeguard the workplace and environment.
Clear management accountabilities must be established for specific aspects of Responsible Care, for example: an organisational chart; clearly defined duties and the delegation of responsibilities.
Responsible Care should be integrated into all relevant training courses. Management must identify the skills and knowledge necessary to perform each job, and training must be provided.
It is also important to demonstrate and document skill proficiency prior to the assignment of independent work and periodically thereafter.
Management is required to raise the awareness of the Responsible Care ethic with all stakeholders. It must also report on its performance to employees and in an annual report.