Hazardous Chemicals

A digital home for 3,000 hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals

DMK Group

7 minutes

Weaknesses, no matter how small in the management of hazardous chemicals can lead to unsafe situations and create an avoidable environmental impact. Inefficient bureaucratic processes, outdated safety data sheets, obsolete work instructions for machinery, unending search for up-to-date documents for the external auditor – are all in the past for the DMK Group. Since 2012, the dairy company has relied on the Quentic software platform and thus ensured compliance with the food industry’s strict standards in relation to sustainability, quality, and occupational safety.

“Thanks to the central register of hazardous chemicals, I always have an overview of all the chemicals used in our 19 locations. When I need information from a specific safety data sheet during an inspection, I can find it in Quentic in just a few clicks – even on the go. Our external auditors appreciate the way we use software to manage our hazardous chemicals, so they usually have only very few questions for us. They know that everything we do works well.”

Torsten Gutowski, Central Occupational Safety Specialist and Hazardous Chemicals Officer at DMK

About the DMK Group

As one of the largest dairy companies in Europe, the DMK Group has around 7,800 employees across 19 locations. From MILRAM and Oldenburger to Humana and Alete, DMK’s brands are well established in over 100 countries. Its product portfolio ranges from milk-based products and cheese to milk-based ingredients for food production, health products, baby food and ice cream. DMK focuses on high product quality, an environmentally friendly approach, as well as the satisfaction and safety of all its employees. This includes continuous efforts to improve its processes in relation to environmental protection, occupational safety and hazardous chemicals management, going beyond the requirements of laws and regulations.

  • Protecting the environment and the natural world and improving living and environmental conditions are key corporate objectives for DMK. | © DMK Group

Searching for a comprehensive overview of hazardous chemicals

Following a company merger that formed the DMK Group in 2011, the administrative work involved in occupational safety and hazardous chemicals management increased enormously. Torsten Gutowski, Central Occupational Safety Specialist and Hazardous Chemicals Officer at DMK, soon recognized that the methods used till date, would not be sufficient to handle the new challenges. Previously, hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals had been recorded in separate Excel spreadsheets for each department and each location. As a result, vast numbers of tables and lists existed that were neither comparable in terms of content nor structure. The inaccuracies ranged from incomplete records of some chemicals’ contents and missing details about application areas, to inconsistent use of abbreviations and repeat entries. A further complication was the need to revise all work instructions to comply with the EU’s CLP Regulation.

“We were faced with the task of centrally merging and standardizing the hazardous chemicals registers of 19 locations. The flood of lists created by the numerous Excel spreadsheets from different locations was no longer sustainable. Implementing a professional software solution made a real difference for us.”

Torsten Gutowski, Central Occupational Safety Specialist and Hazardous Chemicals Officer at DMK

During his search for a suitable solution, Torsten Gutowski visited a trade fair for occupational safety. Among the exhibitors at the fair was Quentic. After gaining initial insights into its functions and conducting an in-depth comparison with other providers, DMK opted to introduce the Quentic software solution in June 2012.

A sophisticated online media library for safety data sheets and work instructions

As part of the company-wide rollout of Quentic, data from 280 suppliers and about 1,900 hazardous chemicals were imported into the system. Today, after ten years in operation, the company’s database has almost doubled, with over 3,000 hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals now managed centrally in Quentic. These range from oils, greases and lab chemicals to cleaning agents, aerosol cans and varnishes. Chemicals used in kosher and halal products are also documented in Quentic, which is particularly important for the dairy company.

Each entry in the hazardous chemicals register is linked to corresponding documents, from safety data sheets and work instructions to NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certifications. Up to seven documents are usually assigned to a single chemical. In total, DMK digitally provides over 12,000 documents via Quentic. 

“In the past, we didn’t capture nearly as much data about our hazardous chemicals management as we do today. Now, everyone wants to store all their data in the Quentic software because of how convenient and straightforward it is. All information is centrally stored and easy to find – like in a sophisticated online media library.”

Torsten Gutowski, Central Occupational Safety Specialist and Hazardous Chemicals Officer at DMK

The EHSQ software’s standardized database offers numerous advantages in terms of organization and time-efficiency. Torsten Gutowski can create new work instructions or refresh outdated safety data sheets and instantaneously make them available to his colleagues across the company. Each of DMK’s 19 locations has a dedicated occupational safety specialist as well as an environmental officer and a hazardous chemicals officer. They all receive up-to-date documents and no longer must update their location’s documents separately, as used to be the case. When Torsten Gutowski edits a work instruction centrally in Quentic, the system allows him to send out email notifications to inform the hazardous chemicals officers at each location. The local officers can then examine the new information and processes before replacing the printed versions on site. Every work instruction created centrally in the software solution saves an hour’s work for each hazardous chemicals officer.

Smart cross-location chemical storage and management

Thanks to the software solution, many of the company’s processes have become more transparent in recent years. Before buying a new chemical, employees can always check whether it is already in use at other locations. Quentic’s hazardous chemical overview includes filters that allow employees to find chemicals in a matter of seconds – including complete information about their properties and areas of application. If a location discontinues its use of a chemical, it may still have large quantities of it in storage areas. In such cases, the software solution enables employees to see whether another factory uses this chemical so that it can be transported for further use rather than simply being sent for disposal. This enables DMK to conserve resources and press ahead with its 2030 Sustainability Strategy.

Quentic also precisely monitors the storage of hazardous chemicals. Hazardous chemicals storage cabinets are created as storage facilities in Quentic and a traffic-light system prevents incorrect storage.

Keeping an eye on prohibited and regulated chemicals and reacting quickly to EU regulations

Today, all the ingredients are transferred from safety data sheets into the Quentic system. Certain chemicals used in the food processing industry are subject to specific regulations, which present a particular challenge. Chemicals are repeatedly reassessed and reclassified by the national government’s committee on hazardous chemicals, the REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). If a reassessment makes it necessary to review the use of certain chemicals, DMK can use Quentic to filter the affected chemical and respond swiftly.

Always on the safe side: Effective protection for people and planet

In laboratories, it is not always possible to avoid working with carcinogenic chemicals, such as the pH indicator phenolphthalein, which is used in analytical processes. In such cases, employees must adhere to strict safety precautions. This includes wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and working with fume cupboards. Thanks to Quentic, employees always have access to complete information about how to protect themselves – ensuring that, at the end of the working day, they can return to their friends and families safe and sound.

At DMK, occupational safety and environmental protection are firmly anchored in the company’s DNA. In addition to carcinogenic hazardous chemicals, the dairy company also wants to avoid the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) due to their damaging impact on the ozone layer.

“I can manage climate-damaging chemicals centrally in Quentic and systematically ensure nobody can use them. I check all the safety data sheets on a regular basis. If I find an ingredient that we’ve prohibited – such as the refrigerant R22 – then I immediately send out a warning notice in the system.”

Torsten Gutowski, Central Occupational Safety Specialist and Hazardous Chemicals Officer at DMK

Smart authorization concept: Fast access for those in a rush, precise info for experts

As the main administrator for the software solution, Torsten Gutowski is responsible for mapping out the company’s entire organizational structure and managing authorizations. Around 1,500 employees are entered as Quentic users and have basic access to the software. Managers are given extensive rights and can also access the Health & Safety module and the Risks & Audits module.. Administrator roles have been assigned to occupational safety specialists, environmental officers, and hazardous chemicals officers, along with a handful of other staff from headquarters. They also benefit from both the necessary level of detail and a clear overview of all EHSQ processes in the company. Janitors also have access to the system so that they can print out up-to-date safety data sheets quickly for emergency services if needed.

“As a basic principle, all employees can request read permissions. However, users only ever see the information in their area of responsibility and the processes and measures in which they are directly involved. This ensures that information is only ever accessed by people who have the corresponding authorizations and who need it – which also prevents an information overload.”

Torsten Gutowski, Central Occupational Safety Specialist and Hazardous Chemicals Officer at DMK

Seven years after its implementation in Germany, the company has now deployed the software in other countries. According to Torsten Gutowski, the biggest challenge in this international cooperation is the language barrier, which is where Quentic’s automatic translation function comes in.

Support with certification: Passing audits with ease

Each of the DMK Group’s factories undergoes several audits per year, with some conducted by customers, some by certification companies like DQS GmbH, and some by internal auditors. All its locations are certified in accordance with ISO 50001 (energy management). In addition, the company looks at environmental impacts throughout the entire value chain and has already secured certification in accordance with ISO 14001 (environmental management) for 17 locations.

Torsten Gutowski supports external audits and independently conducts internal environmental audits and hazardous goods checks. He documents the quantities and locations of stored hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals in the system. At the same time, Gutowski can sort all chemicals by their water hazard classes to check where different hazardous chemicals are stored and ensure they cannot contaminate the environment. During these audits, he sometimes discovers chemicals that are not recorded in the software – and can rectify this by adding them to the system with a few taps on his tablet.

One EHSQ software solution, numerous benefits

Today, Torsten Gutowski wouldn’t want to be without Quentic in his day-to-day work. With the help of the software solution, DMK meets legal requirements and has reduced its organizational workload. Everyone involved is directly integrated into the system, which makes cross-department and cross-location cooperation and coordination far easier.

Success Story DMK Group

What DMK particularly values about Quentic

  • Improved transparency thanks to standardized database

  • Intelligent connections between modules

  • Smart authorization concept

  • Analyses can be performed at any time

  • Individual search and filter functions

  • Comprehensive application across the entire EHSQ area

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