Project description

The objective of ChemXchange is to offer the European construction sector a tailor-made, low-priced, user-friendly electronic chemical information system. ChemXchange will facilitate chemical risk assessment, chemical communication up and down the supply chain as well as chemical management.

The project addresses the challenges in the European construction and building sector regarding the lack of legal compliance with existing and new chemical legislation. The European construction sector is the largest industrial sector overwhelmingly made up of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and a major downstream user of chemicals and chemical-containing articles. Its employees are exposed to a high number of very dangerous chemicals, including carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMR).

Effective risk communication between the different actors involved in the use of dangerous substances, from manufacturer through intermediaries to end user, is crucial for the prevention of hazards and risks. The safety data sheet (SDS) is the most important tool for supplying downstream chemical users with essential information regarding health, environment and safety (HES). An SDS contains essential background information enabling companies (employers) to perform legally required chemical risk assessment and management.

The specific management structures on construction sites also intensify the problems of communicating risks towards downstream users. One particular challenge for the construction industry today, is the fact that all activity is based on projects and many different subcontractors cooperate on one project. Central management and decentralised workmanship, marginal time schedules, and pressure on delivery time and costs contribute to prevent proper risk communication. The construction industry also faces particular cultural and linguistic challenges due to the wide use of temporary workers.

Chemical safety in the workplace represents a significant management burden for construction companies in general and SMEs in particular, as many are lacking the knowledge, resources and systems for properly controlled chemical management. ChemXchange will eliminate a significant part of this management burden and lighten the financial burden of the SMEs.

ChemXchange will provide centralised collection and quality assurance of SDSs that are made available at the individual workplace. The actual use of chemicals in a project will be nicely presented, and it will be possible to easily sort out any specific hazardous chemicals. Built-in filter functionality will clearly identify the use of any chemicals of concern listed by authorities, NGOs, customers or the company itself.

Improved information for the employees that are the actual users of chemicals will be provided through tailor-made documents based on information in the SDSs. Templates will facilitate proper handling of waste etc. and built-in functionality for risk assessment and substitution evaluation will help employing risk management measures to ensure safe use and handling of chemicals. All functionality developed is based on the needs and regulatory requirements faced by the users of chemicals. User-friendliness and intuitive user interfaces are given priority.

The scientific objectives:

  • Enhanced knowledge about European and national chemical legislation, standards and policies
  • Enhanced understanding of the influence of European new chemical legislation REACH on today’s and future construction sector chemical information exchange practices
  • Gather knowledge about construction sector chemical end-user understanding of chemical risks and behaviour towards information
  • Gather knowledge about the internationalisation of European construction sites and problems related to technology use, culture and language
  • Gather knowledge about chemical suppliers’ information delivery practices and needs
  • Gather knowledge about different construction SME end users’ needs
  • Development of system framework such as user and supplier agreements, chemical procurement requirements and chemical information delivery specifications

The technological objectives:

  • Development of a chemical information exchange system that safeguards the specific needs of the construction SMEs, including the development of tools/modules:
    • A common platform integrating all art of relevant chemical information primarily dominated by SDSs (as specified by the SME-AG members)
    • Tools for electronic chemical information exchange up- and down the supply chain
    • Multi- accessible and searchable safety data sheet (SDS) database with SDS raw data (XML-format)
    • Tools for risk assessment, substitution and risk management modules as well as health, environment and safety (HES) management system modules
    • Modules for individually establishing projects/sub-projects with automatic connection to centralised SDS database, allowing automatic information update
    • Tool for logging and informing on quality assurance of SDS
    • Various automatic information routines (e.g. SDS/risk info update alert)
    • Historical logging of user information (for a period of 10 yrs),
    • Possibilities to compile various user statistics
    • Integrated system for managing agreements, fulfilling all legal obligations
    • Option to establish common and/or individual management requirements such as chemical procurement or management requirements
    • Integration with relevant external software solutions such as HES management systems
  • Development of software solution, including planning, development and testing

The dissemination objectives:

  • Development of a strategy plan for system introduction within project period and for post project pan-European implementation as well as training and dissemination procedures
  • Establishment of national system providers according to implementation strategy
  • Development of training material and tools
  • Introduce the system, project knowledge, and dissemination strategy first to members of the project SME-AGs in four countries (UK, N, Lt, It).
  • Carry out intensive training of at least one expert team from each country and facilitate training of end users participating in end user testing