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SQAS & ESAD - What you need to know about the European Single Assessment Document

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 23/02/2017


The SQAS - Safety and Quality Assessment System is an evaluation method for logistics service providers working with hazardous materials. It was developed by the european chemical association CEFIC and the european chemical trade association FECC. There are different versions of this questionnaires based system depending on the domain it applies such as transport service, rail, warehouse, tank cleaning or ESAD.

We will today discuss about the SQAS/ESAD directed to chemical traders. The European Single Assessment Document serves in the chemicals industry as monitoring instrument for a standard service evaluation of traders.

What is the ESAD?

The ESAD is not a certification but a document certifying the current status. It is an evaluation system monitoring the quality, the safety and the environmental standards of chemical traders. It establishes a standard evaluation method and is a voluntary examination of the systems and processes. It creates a standard evaluation method and is a voluntary examination of their system and process. Based on the ESAD questionnaire, this method supports suppliers by checking their traders services and to compare them with their own standards.

The four ESAD questionnaire sections

The questionnaire is divided into four questionnaires:

  • Standard activities of the distributors (Di)
  • Evaluation on Site (S)
  • Chlorinated Solvents (Cs)
  • Food, Cosmetics and Pharma products (F&G)

Content of the ESAD questionnaire

The questionnaire contains more than 800 questions divided into four different sections. The questionnaires also contains a commented guideline and question specific explanation.

Content of the Di Questionnaire

  1. Legal requirements
  2. Management of risk
  3. Policies and documentation
  4. Provision of information
  5. Training
  6. Emergency response
  7. Ongoing improvements
  8. Community interaction
Question example Guideline
4.3.2 - Do you have a marking or transport information card scheme for non dangerous good if this is part of a voluntary scheme? In some countries, Trade Associations or Competent Authorities run voluntary schemes for non-dangerous goods that may have the potential to harm the environment. These can take the form of marking of bulk tankers and / or the driver carrying transport information cards. If there are no national voluntary schemes, the question is not applicable.

Content of the S Questionnaire

  1. The site in general
  2. Bulk handling and storage
  3. IBC, drum, small pack filling and blending operations
  4. Packet product handling and storage
Question example Guideline
3.18. Are dedicated hoses in use, capped immediately after use and stored in dedicated containments? It is recommended to have dedicated hoses. But at least it is acceptable to have a hose per family of product in terms of risk of reaction and in terms of product quality.


Content of the Cs Questionnaire

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Stewardship
  3. General Characteristics of the distribution chain
  4. Legal requirements and important guidelines
  5. Storage
  6. Repackaging / Handling
  7. Bulk transport and Loading / Unloading
  8. Packed products transport and delivery
  9. Waste Management
Question example Guideline
2.1.11. Is a procedure in place to ensure advice to customers regarding the specific requirements of chlorinated solvents and their proper use and application? Distributors are responsible to advise their customers on proper end uses and applications of chlorinated solvents as defined by legislation, guidelines, product safety, health, and environmental information literature, and as defined by the supplier. In this respect, distributors have to make users aware about the use of the “state of the art technologies” which help to ensure safe handling of chlorinated solvent at an end-use level (i.e. closed loop safety handling systems, appropriate hard piped solvent distribution systems, transfer over secured ground with minimise emissions). Procedures in place shall give evidence of above.


Content of the F&G Questionnaire

  1. General
  2. Storage in tanks / silo
  3. Loading and unloading of unpacked products
  4. Transportation of unpacked products
  5. Packaging
  6. Warehousing and shipments of packed products
  7. Product stewardship

Sub-section GTDP: Good Trade and Distribution Practices for pharmaceutical excipients

  1. Quality management
  2. Organization and personnel
  3. Premises
  4. Warehousing and storage
  5. Equipment (general)
  6. Documentation
  7. Repackaging and relabelling
  8. Complaints
  9. Recalls
  10. Returned goods
  11. Handling of non-conforming goods
  12. Dispatch and transportation
  13. Contract activities
Question example Guideline
6.1.2. Are containers stored subject to a shelf life control system? “First in/First out” inventory management or equivalent should be applied for the control of shelf life.


You can download every questionnaires on the official website of the SQAS.

The ESAD is a supplier document meant to be an instrument to facilitate the risks management of the introduction and compliance with the quality standards. Companies receive a certificate once an independent certification body reviewed the situation of the traders based on the ESAD questionnaire and established a report.

You can find an overview of every accredited monitoring bodies sorted by country on the SQAS official website.

You would like to request the ESA document along with further quality documents from your suppliers and traders? You also need to collect and keep your Master Data up-to-date? Learn more about our web based SRM platform to make your supplier management more efficient and be 365 audit ready.

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Tags: Certifications, tips