ALTANA relies on a uniform safety culture. Technical and organizational measures as well as training programs contribute to enhancing work safety and anchoring the issue firmly in our employees’ minds. Our top priority is to reduce the number of accidents. We are constantly working on minimizing hazards and improving the protection of our employees’ health.
Continual Improvement of Occupational Safety
As an employer, it is ALTANA’s duty to offer all its employees safe workplaces and protect them from potential hazards. The basis are the various technical and organizational measures we gear to the respective site’s production conditions as well as to the laws and regulations in effect where the site is located. Furthermore, ALTANA relies on a uniform safety culture with training programs and additional measures.
Group-wide, the Work Accident Indicator (WAI) has since 2007 been the most important means of observing occupational safety at the sites and has been steadily improving it. It provides information about the number of occupational accidents and the number of lost work days, and sets them in relation to the total working hours.
The top priority of our safety culture is to reduce the number of occupational accidents. Consequently, ALTANA’s Management Board and the EH&S department define upper limits each year based on our WAI data that apply to all of our companies.
In the year under review, ALTANA made further progress. In all three categories, the WAI indicators decreased compared to the previous year. In total, ALTANA registered fewer accident-related lost work days. This shows that the technical and organizational measures are bearing fruit and our safety record has further improved in all of our companies and at all of our sites. As in the previous years, there were no fatal accidents in the company in 2016.
Some sites have had no lost work time due to accidents for more than six years. Among them are BYK’s and ECKART’s sites in Tongling and Zhuhai (China), respectively, and ELANTAS’ site in Pimpri (India). ECKART in Pori (Finland), ACTEGA Rhenacoat (France), and ACTEGA Foshan (China) have been accident‑free for more than three years.
On the other hand, an analysis of the circumstances of the accidents shows that further efforts are needed. They have to help raise employees’ awareness of safety further and to train situation-related behavior. The upper limits that ALTANA set itself could not be kept for two of the three indicators. This applies to WAI 1 (number of occupational accidents with lost work time of one day or more per million working hours) and for WAI 2 (number of occupational accidents with lost work time of more than three days per million working hours). The indicator that refers to the total number of lost work days due to occupational accidents (WAI 3) is below the upper limit (see graphics).
Based on the definition of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), we had a total of 13 significant incidents in 2016 (previous year: 17). No employees or residents were harmed. In ten cases, released chemicals were caught by special basins or tanks installed expressly for such incidents. Only in three incidents was this not the case. At ECKART, white spirit that leaked out at our U.S. site in Louisville (a total of approximately 130 liters) led twice to soil contamination that was remedied in a professional way. In a third case at the site, white spirit leaked out without a second catch basin but did not lead to soil contamination.
Worldwide Safety Measures
Improvement of safety is a continuous process and concerns manufacturing plants and warehouses as well as employees’ safety gear. It also includes training measures that sharpen our employees’ safety awareness and continuous monitoring of the safety level. The Group made important progress in all areas in the year under review.
The safety level of the sites meets the legal regulations valid in their region and the manufacturing plants correspond to the current state of technology. In addition, the companies consider the specific geographical conditions in their region as well as international safety classifications. This is the reason for a number of investments which, for example, ELANTAS made in the year under review. Among them are an earthquake-resistant warehouse building for liquid raw materials at its Collecchio site in Italy; the aboveground laying of a pipeline for extinguishing water at its Chinese site in Zhuhai (it prevents water from percolating through the ground in the case of pipeline damage, as the region is threatened by land subsidence); as well as a warehouse building at its Italian site in Ascoli, which is equipped expressly for raw materials subject to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
All of ALTANA’s companies implement their occupational safety measures on the basis of the laws valid in the respective region and the international OHSAS 18001 guideline. As a result, the Group guarantees a uniform safety level worldwide. Depending on the site, moreover, sensor-supported motion detectors supplement the safety equipment. They are particularly suitable for situations in which individual employees work alone for a longer period to set off an alarm in emergencies. In 2016, such motion detectors were introduced at all three Italian ELANTAS sites.
In addition to technical equipment, mindful safety behavior adapted to the situation is playing an ever-greater role in occupational safety. With special training, campaigns, and other measures our companies have developed individual models to heighten their employees’ safety awareness.
In the U.S., the EH&S managers of the three ECKART America sites perform audits jointly with the safety teams in order to establish a cross-site understanding of safety. In India, ELANTAS changed its training program such that instead of foremen specially qualified employees give their colleagues further training, and explicitly in their respective local language. In addition to this new concept, individual employees act as “safety hunters” in the company at irregular intervals and report any grievances immediately to the management. In Brazil, a safety specialist advises and supports the three ACTEGA sites there in matters pertaining to occupational and environmental protection.
Health Management Expanded Further
The health of employees is being promoted by means of preventive action at an ever-increasing number of sites. A new measure, for instance, is the internal fitness offer of ACTEGA and ELANTAS in Spain and China.
At our Wesel site, the wide-ranging course program focusing on sports, relaxation, and nutrition was supplemented by comprehensive health checks for staff members over 40. For this workplace health promotion, BYK received an award from the Lower Rhine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) in Duisburg that is granted by the Health Minister of the North Rhine-Westphalian state government.
At many sites in Germany, annual health days have become a matter of course. The events, which employees can attend during their workday, offer medical checkups as well as information on sports and nutrition.