CIC Discusses Forthcoming Changes to Standards Effort and MSDS

CIC Discusses Forthcoming Changes to Standards Effort and MSDS

It was announced at the latest Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting in Phoenix that CIC’s multi-year discussion of “industry standards” may be coming to a close later this year.

Chairman George Avery announced that after “two months of talking to many individuals” about the issue, he plans to sunset the committee focused on the topic at the end of this year.

Avery said some people expressed concern that CIC was “over-reaching,” particularly when it began to suggest a structure for a new organization to oversee the final development and implementation of standards.

He said he wants to guide CIC by its published mission statement, which states CIC is to serve solely as a forum where “industry stakeholders come together to discuss issues, build broad understanding, find common ground and communicate…findings and possible solutions.”

That mission statement, he said, “is not going to change on my shift (as chairman) unless we do that in January.”

“I need something that’s stable and that we’ve used and has been in place, and I’m going to use it the rest of this year,” Avery said. “If the body would like to revisit how it’s written, that can occur in January.”

Avery laid out a two-pronged approach to the standards issue at CIC for the rest of the year. First, he said, the CIC Definitions Committee will conclude its work on updating the list of shop equipment and capabilities currently used as CIC’s definition of a “Class A” repair facility. Though that committee continues to discuss whether that document will be renamed, it has been used in a variety of ways over the years by insurers, associations, government agencies and other organizations looking to establish a list of the equipment, training and other items that distinguish professional repair facilities.

Meanwhile, Avery will give the committee focused on standards time at the July and November CIC meetings for final presentations on “findings and possible solutions” related to two aspects of standards.

In July in Boston, the committee will seek to address six specific questions Avery said he heard from those he spoke with regarding how OEM repair procedures can serve as a standard. Those questions include whether OEM “recommendations” should also be considered “standards,” and how to address situations for which there are no OEM-established procedures.

In November, Avery said, the committee will address the “inspection and verification of shop compliance” aspect of the topic, given that at a CIC meeting earlier this year, 79% of attendees thought shops should be inspected for compliance.

“Then I’m closing that committee,” Avery said. “We’re not going to saw sawdust any more with the topic. Because CIC comes up to a point and stops. Then if companies want to take it from there and create inspections and verifications and programs, that’s for them to figure out and offer to the repair industry. They’ll find out whether it flies or not. That’s someone else’s bailiwick.”

Avery said he believes his decision “is in the best interests based on the feedback I’ve gathered as CIC chair.”

In addition, participants at the most recent CIC meeting overwhelmingly said it’s time for information providers and others accessing shop estimate data to convert from using the old EMS data exchange standard to the newer BMS standard.

The fact that a poll of more than 200 CIC attendees at the meeting in Phoenix, AZ, found that 84% supported such a move was perhaps more surprising given that a similar poll at the CIC meeting in January found that only one in three CIC attendees said they even understood the key difference between the two standards.

The education effort about the two standards has been led at CIC by Data Privacy Committee chairman Tony Passwater, who once again in Phoenix said the change could have significant impact for shops, insurers, parts suppliers and other industry vendors.

Without going into to much technical detail, Passwater reiterated that while the EMS standard transfers all data from the estimate—including customer, vehicle, parts and labor information—the newer BMS standard provides shops with more control over what data gets shared, thus making it easier for them to protect the privacy of data for customers, business partners and themselves.

A parts vendor, for example, can be sent just the vehicle information and parts list—not the customer’s name, address and phone number. A rental car company or CSI provider doesn’t need every line item of the estimate.

“There’s just unnecessary personal and business data that is being transmitted and captured by other parties that’s not necessary,” Passwater said of the industry’s continued use of EMS.

He also pointed out that EMS, which was developed in 1994 and not updated in over a decade, lacks standardized transfer of email addresses or cell phone numbers, which weren’t as ubiquitous back then.

While some information providers have moved to BMS for some or all data transfer, the vast majority of transactions are still handled through EMS, Passwater said.

By the end of Passwater’s presentation, 84% of CIC attendees said they had a better understanding of the key differences between EMS and BMS— and that same percentage said information providers should move to BMS and eliminate EMS.

That change, and the elimination of EMS entirely should happen quickly, according to CIC attendees; one-third said it should happen in the next six months, another third said it should happen in a year, and 22% said within two years seems reasonable. Only 10% said EMS should never be eliminated.

MSDS to change

Another coming change previewed at CIC in Phoenix involves an overhaul of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations regarding hazard communications. Part of the change: “Material Safety Data Sheets,” or MSDS, will become just “Safety Data Sheets” (SDS) over the next three years.

That may sound like little more than a semantic change, but it will have real repercussions, beginning this year, for collision repair shops (and virtually all employers), according to Brandon Thomas of GMG Envirosafe, a regulatory compliance consulting firm.

Thomas said the change is designed to make the warnings and other information provided through the sheets more consistent among products and manufacturers.

He said the 3-year phase-in includes requirements for shops this year. Primarily, all employees must by December of this year complete a training course on the new hazard communication requirements.

Thomas also recommended that shops designate a “SDS library manager” to replace the old MSDS with the new SDS as they arrive between now and December 2015. That person, Thomas said, must compare the new sheet to the old to see if the defined hazards posed by the chemical have changed under the new OSHA guidelines (and some will, according to Thomas); if so, the employer must communicate that to employees and provide any additional personal protection equipment needed.

Manufacturers have until the end of 2015 to convert over to SDS, and shops will have until mid-2016 to have their libraries completely converted. But with many manufacturers already issuing SDS, and with most shops using 500 to 600 chemicals each with its multi-page SDS, Thomas said it makes sense for shops to get a system in place now to begin to organize the transition.

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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