Nicolette Dalpino and Calleene Egan  |  03/31/2009

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News Digest

HEADLINES

 

E-Waste and the Standard That Loves It

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is considered the fastest-growing component of the municipal waste stream worldwide. Unfortunately, those discarded computers, cell phones, and televisions, among other items, contain hazardous materials such as mercury, chromium, lead, and cadmium, to name a few. These chemicals not only have an enormous environmental effect, but also cause physical problems such as brain damage, kidney disease, reproductive disorders, and cancers. Growing legislation and standards surrounding e-waste disposal globally touch on issues such as illegal dumping, and the effect that recycling these hazardous materials has on the poor in countries such as Ghana, China, and India.

A recent report on National Public Radio (NPR), “E-Waste Law: Manufacturers Pay for Recycling” ( www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100131277 ), highlighted the issue of e-waste management in Washington state. There, a new initiative called Producer Responsibility makes companies such as Sony, Apple, HP, and others responsible for their products from cradle to grave.

By implementing the Producer Responsibility initiative, proponents hope to push companies to design more environmentally friendly products. Also, the initiative aims to prevent deadly chemicals from entering regular waste sites by rerouting e-waste to specific recycling centers.

However, according to Stanley H. Salot, president of the Electronic Components Certification Board (ECCB), “Recycling is not a solution. It is at best a short-term fix for our mismanagement of the waste that has been created by our local industrial revolution.”

If you’ve been following our video reports on hazardous substance process management (HSPM), viewed online at www.qualitydigest.com/inside/fda-compliance-video/special-report-hazardous-substance-process-management-part-1.html  , you know that Salot is a key figure in developing IECQ HSPM QC 080000, the HSPM standard. “Unlike anything else available to industry today, QC 080000, also known as the USA EIA/ECCB-954 standard, requires that a company analyze its entire operation for hazardous substance use and management,” says Salot.

The development of EIA/ECCB-954 was based on a common-sense approach to finding a way for millions of companies around the world to demonstrate that they comply with regulatory, statutory, and customer requirements. Once the concept was agreed to by the ECCB, Salot and his staff created EIA/ECCB-954 in March 2005. During the next seven months, the ECCB ran a pilot IECQ HSPM company certification program and included the development and deployment of a certified training program. By October, the first organization was registered to the standard by NSAI Inc. Since then more than 1,600 companies worldwide have achieved registration.

Currently, these is no requirement that a company be audited to prove that its products are free from hazardous substances. In a kind of honor system, companies self-declare their compliance with local or national hazardous substance laws.

“If self-declaration worked we would not have toys with lead paint in them years after the United States banned lead paint,” says Salot. “Without a set of defined, international standards, the problems of e-waste and hazardous material contamination will continue. There must be confidence in the attestation of a company, and this can only be achieved if all companies are working to an equal set of requirements. In the case of hazardous substance management, we want products made in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, or anywhere else to be of the same standards as those built in the United States.”

In Salot’s view consumers and retailers need to demand that companies show third-party certification, such as IECQ HSPM certification for HSPM. “The entire supply chain would eventually be required to demonstrate compliance,” says Salot. “This is possible because QC 080000 requires that the supply chain management system be understood and managed accordingly.”

The crux of supply chain management in QC 080000 is in the design of the product. QC 080000 requires that a company be able to demonstrate that its suppliers comply with hazardous-substance-free (HSF) requirements. There are many ways to do this, including self-declaration, but today manufacturers choose to require suppliers to obtain third-party certification. As for Washington and several other states that have implemented Producer Responsibility or similar programs, it’s a step in the right direction. With the right standards, and international compliance, it’s hoped that in years to come the world might see better management of hazardous waste.

 

Do the Math

Last month’s “Do the Math” was a video challenge. We sent you to an ABC Nightline episode where co-anchor Cynthia McFadden made a common mistake. She starts out by quoting the average price for a gallon of gasoline, $3.51 (this was mid-2008). As a comparison, she points out that when George W. Bush was elected, the price of gas was $1.47 per gallon.

She then says this: “Even accounting for inflation, that’s almost a 200-percent increase.”

We’ve run into this type of error before, but it bears repeating: This is not a 200-percent increase, but a 100-percent increase.

Here’s the formula for percent increase or decrease, and we hope we get it right this time because the last time we ran this we botched it. That was embarrassing.

 

(New value-old value)/old value ×100

 

Percent increase example, assuming gas was $1.75 and then went to $3.50:

(3.50-1.75) /1.75 × 100

= 1.75/1.75 × 100

= 100%

 

Percent decrease example, if prices had gone the other way:

(1.75-3.50) /3.50 × 100

= -1.75/3.50 × 100

= -50% (The minus denotes a decrease.)

 

This month’s “Do the Math” winner is Laura Halper, who wins a lovely prize from woot.com.

 

Need more puzzles
It had to happen. We’ve run out of puzzles.

Read the newspaper, watch television, listen to the radio, and let us know about any math errors. Send your suggestions to http://www.qualitydigest.com/contact?category=Comments.

 

Internal Auditing Improves Risk Management

In the wake of a recession brought on in part by poor enterprise risk management (ERM) at leading banks and financial institutions, the “2008 ERM Benchmarking Survey” conducted by The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation (IIARF) confirms that few organizations are formally prepared to manage their risk. Of the 240 organizations polled, only 40 percent had implemented a formal program. In fact, 13.8 percent of chief audit executives who responded to the survey said that they’ve actually recommended to their management that a risk management process be implemented, and yet they still lack a program.

“There’s such an opportunity for internal auditing in this post-financial meltdown environment,” says Richard Chambers, president of The Institute of Internal Auditors. “The good news coming out of this survey is that some are already playing an active role in helping improve their organization’s risk management. They’re providing services like evaluating the risk management process or even coordinating the risk management program. And this is right in line with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.”

Further, the survey found that the majority of organizations actively document and communicate the board’s and management’s risk-management roles and responsibilities, as well as the organization’s risk appetite or tolerance level. “Internal auditors should encourage senior management to support the efforts of the organization’s designated risk manager,” added Chambers. “Senior management needs to understand the added value of the program and how it will impact each business area. This will ensure that the right tone at the top is established, which will then create a business culture where risk management is valued and understood by all levels of the organization.”

Key risk management practices that maximize the use of internal resources and ensure the program’s success include, developing a risk-management process that fits the organization’s needs, defining and using the same risk-management language throughout the entire organization, incorporating risk-monitoring activities into all business action plans, and using a formalized and standardized risk- mitigation process.

For further information, visit www.theiia.org/theiia/newsroom/news-releases/index.cfm?i=8870 .

 

Quality Health Care Conference

Improving health care delivery performance is the theme of the 2009 Quality Institute for Healthcare (QIHC) conference. The three-day conference, hosted by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), May 18-20, at the Minneapolis Convention Center, will focus on developing adoptable and sustainable improvement models for application in care-delivery business units at the organizational and community level.

The conference will offer hands-on workshops presented by health care quality leaders and experts from around the country who will teach the latest quality improvement methods to reduce errors in health care, such as infrastructures for improving care, and Six Sigma for outpatient medicine.

For further information, visit www.asq.org/media-room/press-releases/2009/20090203-qihc.html.

 

Book Review:

Why New Systems Fail: Theory and Practice Collide

Why do organizations continue to struggle when activating new enterprisewide software systems, often exceeding timelines? Even for those that meet their basic time and calendar objectives, many do not provide end-users with the benefits and features initially anticipated.

“Organizations routinely fail while attempting to implement and upgrade enterprise systems,” says Phil Simon, independent software consultant and author of the recently released book Why New Systems Fail: Theory and Practice Collide (AuthorHouse, 2009). “Senior executives expect their organizations to activate new systems on time and under budget. More often than not, their expectations are unfulfilled. Given the current economic climate, more than ever organizations need to minimize system-related risks.”

Why New Systems Fail focuses on new systems as well as mature enterprise systems. With regard to the latter, many organizations’ existing systems are failures waiting to happen, vulnerable to employee turnover or sudden disasters.

Simon examines detailed examples and case studies to illuminate the true causes of systems failures, including the dynamic nature of systems and technology, and accounting for recent developments in the field. Simon also offers advice regarding systems in all phases: before, during, and after system activations. Specific topics include:

Determining if an organization is ready to implement a new system

Overcoming data, technology, and human obstacles

Identifying the root causes of system failures

Selecting and effectively utilizing consultants

Ensuring the greatest chance of success

“The book debunks a number of myths,” adds Simon. “Software vendors like to trumpet the ease of implementing different solutions. Senior executives, project managers, implementation team members, and consultants stand to benefit from the book’s insights well before embarking on large, enterprisewide projects.”

For further information, visit www.philsimonsystems.com/whynewsystemsfail.html.

 

U.S.-India Form Alliance on Standards

With an exchange of nearly $34 billion dollars of goods in 2007 alone, trade between the United States and India is active and growing. The U.S.-India Standards and Conformance Cooperation Program (SCCP) was created to facilitate this relationship and promote further growth.

Joe Bhatia of ANSI addresses members of the U.S.-India Standards and Conformance Cooperation Program.

The initiative, which will be carried out by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) with funding from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and in coordination with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), is designed to improve access for U.S. companies to the Indian market by boosting cooperation on standards and conformance issues. Participants will have the opportunity to increase their individual engagement with Indian stakeholders.

“Time and again, we have seen that those who understand how to effectively influence and address standardization and compliance issues have the greatest success in the international marketplace,” says S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI’s president and CEO. “Whether we are talking about information technology, manufacturing, or services, the SCCP has been designed to facilitate trade and offer U.S. and Indian companies an additional path to success in a foreign market.”

Leaders in the U.S. and Indian trade community spoke at the launch ceremony this past February on trade perspectives, the standards community outlook, and the Indian conformity assessment scenario. Events surrounding the launch of the SCCP continued with a ceremony at USTDA in Washington, D.C., in March.

“This program is built upon a strong foundation of collaboration and mutual understanding,” says Bhatia. “Together, ANSI, USTDA, CII, and the Bureau of Indian Standards are making a commitment to empower U.S. and Indian stakeholders with the standards and conformity assessment information resources they need.”

For further information, visit www.ansi.org/news_ publications/news_story.aspx?menuid=7&articleid=2117 .

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About The Author

Nicolette Dalpino and Calleene Egan’s default image

Nicolette Dalpino and Calleene Egan

Nicolette Dalpino is Quality Digest's news editor. Calleene Egan is Quality Digest's editorial intern.