Safety and Health
ALTANA relies on a uniform safety culture. Various 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.
A Focus on Occupational Safety
For ALTANA, the health and safety of employees is its top priority. Various technical and organizational measures that we implement to protect employees from hazards according to the respective sites’ production conditions as well as to the laws and regulations in effect at the location. ALTANA also relies on training and other measures to achieve a uniform safety culture.
Since 2007, ALTANA has used the Work Accident Indicator (WAI) as the most important key performance indicator observing occupational safety at all sites and has been steadily improving it. The indicator provides the number of occupational accidents and lost work days and sets them in relation to the total working hours. On the basis of this data, ALTANA’s Management Board and the EH&S department define three WAI values each year as targets that apply to all of the companies in the ALTANA Group.
In 2017, as in the previous year, there were no fatal accidents. Some sites achieved remarkable results in terms of occupational safety. For instance, BYK Tongling and ELANTAS Beck India at the Ankleshwar and Pimpri sites, respectively, have not recorded any lost work time due to accidents for more than ten years. The following sites have been accident-free for more than four years: ECKART Zhuhai (seven years), ACTEGA Rhenacoat and ELANTAS Tongling (each six years), ACTEGA Foshan (five years), and ELANTAS Europe in Ascoli Piceno (four years).
In spite of this excellent development, ALTANA did not reach the safety targets it set itself for the year under review and did not improve its accident statistics. Analyses of the accidents show that there were technical and organizational causes in only a few cases, and in most cases the reasons were behavior-based.
ALTANA is using this result as an opportunity to rely even more on further training in the future. In addition to the further development of technical and organizational measures, behavior-based safety training serves to sharpen employees’ awareness of safety issues and train them to behave appropriately in any given situation. Also, ALTANA’s staff magazine regularly discusses special accident incidents and strategies for avoiding them. Moreover, all sites have established efficient processes for prompt analyses of accidents performed by employees and managers.
Incidents in Detail
Based on the definition of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), we had a total of 12 significant incidents in 2017 (previous year: 13). One employee was injured; no third parties were harmed. Nine incidents involved the release of chemicals; the other three were fires. In eight of the nine cases in which chemicals were released, the chemicals were caught by special basins or tanks installed expressly for such incidents. In one case, there was leakage but no catchment basin, but this had no adverse ecological impact.
Worldwide Safety Measures
Given the high level of technical and organizational safety measures, in the year under review only selected precautions were necessary to further improve ALTANA’s safety culture and health protection. This progress included an automation measure in the processing of solid raw materials at the Quattordio site (ELANTAS Europe), which reduces production employees’ contact with chemicals.
Further investments in health protection concerned the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the ambient air of production buildings. In this regard, ECKART made significant progress at its Schererville, Vétroz, and Zhuhai sites, and ACTEGA at its Sedan site. With the help of closed systems, optimized extractor systems and automation measures reduced the corresponding emissions considerably.
At its Vigo site, ACTEGA optimized the noise protection of its extractor systems and installed lifting devices to ensure improved ergonomic conditions. By investing in hydraulic lifts, ELANTAS decreased the use of forklifts at its site in Zhuhai.
The company suggestion scheme (CSS) continues to play a key role in the improvement of ALTANA’s safety culture. In 2017, hundreds of employees around the world took part once again. Their suggestions helped improve ergonomic conditions and occupational safety, and promoted sustainable resource consumption. In addition, some suggestions enabled costs to be cut.
A Focus on Safety Communication
To continue to sharpen safety awareness in the long term, the ALTANA Group primarily relies on targeted communication. In the year under review, some companies had their first experiences with communication-oriented safety training. Serving as an example, ELANTAS Europe organized a socalled “safety walk” at each of its Italian sites. During the walk, local managers and employees identify possible risks of accidents and together train safe behavior for these situations.
The cross-site two-day safety coaching of ACTEGA North America is geared to managers, plant managers, and foremen. With the support of external partners, the participants learn target-group-related conversation and communications strategies with which they can address the topic of safety in a team locally. On account of the extremely positive response, we will carry out this or a similar type of coaching at other sites as well to continually improve safety behavior.
Protecting the health of the workforce is a key issue for all ALTANA Group companies. In Germany, annual health days have been established at many sites. On these days, employees receive medical checkups and can obtain information about healthy nutrition. ACTEGA North America initiated a safety-focused cross-site action week focusing on health and safety, e. g. with first-aid courses.
Moreover, employees worldwide have access to a manifold sports, nutrition, fitness, and relaxation offer, which at many branches is available all year round.