Safety and Health

ALTANA relies on an effective 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 health protection of our staff.

The Top Priority is Occupational Safety

Occupational safety and occupational health protection are top priorities at ALTANA.

Through various technical and organizational measures, which are adapted to the production conditions at the sites and to the laws and regulations applicable there, we ensure continuous improvement in the health and safety of our employees. To achieve a uniform safety culture, ALTANA also relies on targeted training programs for employees.

Since 2007, the Work Accident Indicator (WAI) has been used throughout the Group as the most important key figure for monitoring and continuously improving the development of occupational safety at all sites. The indicator shows the number of accidents at work and lost work days, and sets them in relation to the total number of hours worked. On the basis of this data, ALTANA’s Management Board together with the EH&S department sets three WAI values as targets for each year, which apply equally to all companies in the ALTANA Group.

As in previous years, there were no fatal accidents in 2019.

In the year under review, certain sites again achieved remarkable results in terms of their occupational safety. The BYK Tongling and ELANTAS Beck India sites, which have been accident-free for more than eleven years, deserve special mention. ECKART Zhuhai (nine years), ACTEGA Rhenacoat and ELANTAS Tongling (eight years each), and ACTEGA Foshan (seven years) have been accident-free for more than six years. ACTEGA do Brasil (Santana de Parnaíba), ECKART Suisse, and ELANTAS Zhuhai have been free of accidents for more than three years.

Furthermore, ALTANA was able to improve all three accident indicators (WAI 1, WAI 2, and WAI 3) in the year under review. Compared to the previous year, the WAI indicators decreased in all three categories. Thanks to this encouraging development, it was also possible to meet the targets the company had set itself for the year under review.

ALTANA achieved these results through various measures to further improve the safety awareness of employees and the safety culture as a whole. In addition to the further development and implementation of technical and organizational measures and the detailed analysis of “near misses,” behavior-based safety training enables staff to practice safe behavior in every situation.

The SAFETY@ALTANA newsletter, which was successfully launched in 2018, will continue to be published regularly, but in an improved and more attractive format. It is available to all employees via the ALTANA Intranet. Accidents with significant frequency and relevance are presented in the ALTANA staff magazine together with strategies for their prevention. In addition, all sites worldwide have established their own safety organization, which is responsible among others for complying with all local occupational safety regulations, for training and education measures, and for recording and evaluating accidents and near misses.

Incidents in Detail

Based on the instructions for reporting on globally harmonized process safety key figures in accordance with the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and on the definition provided by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), we had a total of 18 significant incidents in the year under review. A comparison with previous years is not meaningful, as the criteria for reportable events changed during the period under review.

16 of the incidents were chemical spills and the other two were fires. In one of the cases there was minor release of a chemical with soil contamination. The contaminated soil was removed and disposed of properly. No employees were injured in any of the events.

Worldwide Safety Measures

In the year under review, ACTEGA Artística was one of the first companies in Spain to receive ISO 45001:2018 certification, which focuses primarily on prevention systems and the implementation of a culture of continuous improvement in occupational safety. This certification is an important milestone within the SAFETY FIRST program, through which ACTEGA Artística raises awareness of safe behavior and procedures at both management and employee level.

The safety weeks and safety days successfully introduced in previous years were again held at various locations worldwide in the year under review. In addition to firmly established events such as European Safety Week at all ELANTAS Europe locations, the Safety and Health Day at ALTANA and BYK in Wesel, or Celebration of National Safety Day at ELANTAS Beck India, ACTEGA North America launched a promising new safety campaign called What’s Your Why? In this poster campaign, employees share their personal reasons for accident-free work with their colleagues and thus motivate them to engage in safe behavior.

The company’s suggestion scheme (CSS) is actively used at seven German sites as an instrument for maintaining and improving ALTANA’s safety culture. Employees submitted around 800 ideas in the year under review, a large proportion of which were suggestions for improvement in the areas of occupational safety and environmental protection. The implemented suggestions not only contribute to improving ergonomic conditions and occupational safety, but also lead to cost savings.

A Focus on Safety Communication

In order to continue to strengthen the employees’ understanding of uniform safety in the future, the ALTANA Group relies above all on clear and direct communication. BYK continues to work closely with the employer’s liability insurance association of raw materials and the chemical industry (BG RCI) on the topic of VISION ZERO. In the year under review, the focus was on two issues: road safety and safety in general. Various campaigns were carried out in the fall. Among other things, employees at the logistics center in Wesel-Emmelsum were able to experience the consequences of an accident first hand in a truck rollover simulator. Furthermore, the general safety in teams was emphasized. In small groups, employees could discuss safety in their team with their superiors and agree on individual rules for safety.

At the ACTEGA production sites in Germany, Brazil, and France, so-called safety talks are held regularly during the different shifts. As a consequence, employees become even more aware of safety issues. New production employees receive special training in safe behavior as part of their introductory training. In addition, cooperation on the topic of “Behavior-based safety culture” was continued with an external partner at the ACTEGA site in Grevenbroich. In view of the extremely positive experiences so far, similar coaching sessions are planned at other sites.

These measures also make an important contribution to accident prevention.

Health Protection

In the year under review, ALTANA again invested in improving health protection, especially in protecting employees from critical substances (e. g., dusts and VOCs). Among other things, existing ventilation systems at ECKART in Wackersdorf and at ACTEGA Artística were optimized, and the supply of raw materials at ACTEGA Rhenacoat was fully automated.

To prevent musculoskeletal disorders, the company again improved the ergonomics of workplaces in various areas at many sites. At ECKART in Güntersthal and Pori, for example, and at ACTEGA Foshan, loading and lifting equipment for work with heavy loads was installed. Furthermore, ACTEGA Artística adapted the manual supply of raw materials in a production process such that employees are no longer stressed by heavy loads.

Due to the consistently positive response, annual health days have become a matter of course at many sites. Employees have the opportunity, for example, to undergo medical examinations and receive advice or to attend lectures on healthy eating or stress management.

In addition, employees can benefit from a multifaceted company sports, nutrition, fitness, and relaxation program, which is available all year round at many sites.