Summary of task 1.3/1.5 - End user survey on obstacles/user behaviour on site

Activity in Task 1.3 is coordinated with activity in Task 1.5. A web based survey and in-depth interviews are performed for chemical users and chemical suppliers respectively.

Chemical users - The survey covers 4 main areas:

  • demographic data
  • safety data sheets
  • need for information, content of a chemical information system
  • finance/confidence in a chemical information system.

As part of the input to system specification, a web based questionnaire is performed including the members of FIEC, UNIEP, GCI-UICP and EBA. In Italy and Lithuania, the survey was also distributed by RTD partners KTU and Labor respectively. The survey includes 111 respondents which is acceptable compared to the objective of 100 respondents for this web based survey.

Based on part 1; demographic data, it is fair to assume that the respondents are dominated by the larger enterprises in this industrial sector and also do represent enterprises with above average standard regarding established systems and routines for handling of chemicals.

The survey demonstrates that safety data sheet primarily is received from chemical supplier and also distributed internally in the enterprises as paper copies and the survey clearly demonstrate a potential for improvements with regards to providing safe data sheets.

The participant in the survey informs that purchase of chemicals is the most important area of focus with regards to handling of chemical products. The participants seem to request a rather extensive chemical information system. A presentation of which elements the respondents characterize as “very important” is presented on table 4 in this report. In addition to the information that is included in a safety data sheet of good quality, the respondents define that information such as as presentation of alternative products, positive environmental labelling, data regarding quality, technical information (manuals for use), information regarding chemicals used during production and included in building articles, whether or not a chemical product contains chemicals identified by the Authorities for limited use of to be evaluated for substitution and which laws and regulations that do apply during purchase, use and waste handling of products should be included.

Despite that fact that the respondents do have confidence in information provided by the supplier for chemical products, 82,4 % recommend that information from scientific and environmental organizations and 90 % recommend that a quality assurance system should be included in a chemical information system in order to increase the user confidence in such a system. Hence, the survey clearly demonstrates that such functionalities should be evaluated when developing the ChemXchange system.

With regards to financing of a chemical information system, only 7,6 % of the respondents indicate that this should be financed by the them as users of the system. However, 38 % of the respondents inform interest to participate in financing of chemical information system if this system is financed in cooperation between suppliers and users of chemical products. 70 % of the respondents are positive to financing by advertisement if advertisements are clearly separated from the chemical information. Hence, it is recommended that such methods as a possibility for partly financing of a chemical information system should be further investigated.

Chemical suppliers – The survey covers 3 main areas:

  • demographic data
  • chemical information system
  • financing/confidence in a chemical information system.

For each question in the questionnaire, several alternatives are presented. In addition, the respondents were requested to provide additional comments to the different questions. The questionnaire was prepared in English, German, French, Italian and Norwegian.

Based on part 1; demographic data, it is fair to assume that the respondents are dominated by large enterprises and that the respondents are also dominated by international company and has well established routines for quality assurance of the information in their safety data sheets. The survey demonstrates that different methods for distribution of their safety data sheets are used and distribution electronically is a possibility for most the chemical suppliers participating in this study. However, it is important to register that distribution by paper copies is still an important route of distribution for such documents.

The survey includes information regarding further documentation and information requested by the chemical users and what information is provided by the chemical suppliers respectively. Information regarding price and quality/technical data is clearly dominating and frequently requested while information and documentation such as life cycle assessment, extensive information regarding chemical composition of products or specific chemical substances in products, eco-toxicological and toxicological data are quite rarely requested.

The survey does demonstrate that the chemical suppliers seem to recommend a rather comprehensive chemical information system. Part of the information recommended to be included is available in a safety data sheet of good quality. However, a high majority (more than 75 %) of the chemical supplier recommend to include additional information such as positive environmental labelling, technical information (manuals for use), whether or not a chemical product contains chemicals identified by the Authorities for limited use of to be evaluated for substitution and which laws and regulations that do apply during purchase, use and waste handling of products.

The chemical suppliers are more positive to provide safety data sheets into a chemical information system then to actively participate and be committed to update information. Approximately 10 % of the respondents declare that they do not want to provide information or participate. This demonstrates that there is a big potential for including the chemical suppliers and their information, as approximately 90 % of the respondents do demonstrate an interest to provide data and participate in certain conditions. 82,7 % of the suppliers can supply safety data sheets electronically and “pdf” format is dominating and 31,9 % of the suppliers inform that they can provide their safety data sheets in “XML” format. A majority of the chemical suppliers indicate that such an information system should primarily be financed by the chemical users and/or by public funding and only 10,9 % of the respondents indicate that this should be financed by the them as supplier of chemical products. 26,1 % finds that financing such as system in cooperation with their user of chemical products is acceptable.

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