Safety and Health

ALTANA acts according to the “safety first” principle and relies on an effective safety culture. Technical and organizational measures as well as our training programs contribute to enhancing work safety and anchoring the issue firmly in our employees’ minds.

Occupational safety and occupational health protection have top priority at ALTANA. In 2023, we again succeeded in keeping the number of occupational accidents reported at our sites at a low level.

The year 2023 was characterized by major challenges. Most notably, the geopolitical changes and ongoing inflation led to stress and uncertainty among our employees. In this environment, we recorded an increase in behavior-based accidents. These were mostly non-chemical accidents, resulting in a slight increase in lost working days compared to the previous year. In terms of WAI 1, i. e. the number of reported occupational accidents with lost time of one day or more per one million working hours, ALTANA missed its target of a maximum of 2.3 at Group level, recording 2.8. ECKART was again able to reduce the figure significantly. BYK, ELANTAS, and ACTEGA, on the other hand, were not in the target range.

Some production sites stand out for their exemplary occupational safety records: ACTEGA in Foshan, BYK, and ELANTAS in Tongling; ECKART in Zhuhai; and ELANTAS Beck India in Pune have been accident-free for at least ten years. The ELANTAS sites in Zhuhai and Malaysia, along with ECKART Pigments in Pori, have had a spotless safety record for over five years. A further seven sites have been free from accidents for at least three years.

Further facts and figures can be found in the Group Management Report.

Maintaining Employees’ Health 

2023 was marked by the easing of the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis teams at company, division, and Group level completed their work and employees returned to the new normality. New company agreements for mobile working have helped to make working conditions even more flexible for employees – an important contribution to improving the work-life balance. Travel resumed but remained at a lower level than before the pandemic. Work meetings were conducted through both virtual and inperson formats, with a noticeable shift towards increased physical presence and the inclusion of optional hybrid participation choices. Appropriate hygiene measures were upheld for larger internal and external events, aligning with the lessons learned from the pandemic experience.

For instance, BYK coordinated a digital health week at the Wesel, Schkopau, Kempen, and Moosburg sites in collaboration with partners to prevent possible work-related stress. The initiative was highly appreciated by the employees. In Malaysia, ELANTAS has been providing routine health checks for its workforce since 2022, surpassing the mandated obligations.

Bolstering the sense of community and doing something good for others or the environment is particularly valuable when it also contributes to the wellbeing of employees. The charity walk by employees at BYK in Widnes falls into this category. A total of £ 10,000 was raised for charity in a three-day 80-mile run. At ECKART in Hartenstein, 35 people participating in the “Cycle to Work” initiative not only avoided around six tons of CO² equivalent greenhouse gases but improved their fitness.

ALTANA also continued to invest in rescue equipment in 2023. For example, multiple sites acquired defibrillators and provided training to staff on their proper usage.


Ergonomics make an important contribution to occupational health and safety. Appropriately designed workplaces and activities boost the productivity of the workforce and reduce absences due to illness. ELANTAS took steps to improve working conditions at the Ascoli site by enclosing open production areas with doors to prevent draughts. Furthermore, the installation of infrared radiant heaters efficiently heated the space, not only enhancing the workplace environment but also reducing energy consumption during winter. ELANTAS also prioritized the optimization of the ventilation system in the production area at the Hamburg site, focusing on protection against draughts and overall improvement of the workplace.

At some sites, filling processes for reactors and aggregates were redesigned in such a way that, in addition to greater automation, ergonomic aspects were also brought to the fore. In the year under review, ALTANA again invested in lifting aids. ELANTAS introduced appropriate safe lifting aids for big bags at the Quattordio site in Italy.

Structural changes also contribute to ergonomics. ECKART implemented several measures in Hartenstein. For instance, sample taking has been facilitated by creating new paths and doors. Some systems require operation by our employees despite a high degree of automation. To make this easier and reduce unnecessary walking distances, ECKART invested in operator terminals. Additionally, product feeding stations were upgraded in the internal logistics area, automating manual machine filling by employees and implementing closed filling of aluminum semolina in the downstream process.

Reducing Exposure and Avoiding Risks

As described in the “Products” chapter, ALTANA replaces critical substances with non-critical ones whenever possible. If this is not feasible, we do everything in our power to minimize the respective exposure risk.

An effective method is to use closed systems. This is understood as systems in which an unwanted exchange of substances with the environment is excluded, but an exchange of energy (for example heat) is possible between the system and the environment. In this case, as far as possible, all filling operations and reactions are designed to prevent exposure.

ELANTAS implemented this principle at the Quattordio site, where internal transfer processes are now carried out through pipelines from one plant to the other. Also, a closed storage tank for chemicals was installed at the Ascoli site in Italy to accommodate the materials delivered in drums, allowing them to be safely transferred to the storage tank to reduce exposure for employees.

Recognizing that not all processes can be completely closed, ECKART implemented a central dust collection system in Wackersdorf. This system is designed to capture and separate local dust emissions, enhancing environmental safety. Similarly, ELANTAS installed advanced dust cleaning systems in Collecchio, Italy, adhering to elevated environmental and safety standards. These systems effectively separate powdery chemicals, contributing to a heightened level of safety for employees.

The implementation of electrically driven drum sealing units has simplified processes, especially in terms of ergonomics and noise reduction. Older pneumatically driven units were replaced with quieter and more energy-efficient electrical systems.

Safety in Chemical Processes

In the year under review, safety assessments of facilities and processes were carried out at the sites using a risk-based approach to make operations safer and better. Safety assessments were also carried out regarding personal protective equipment and clothing so that employees are even better protected in the event of exposure. Personal protective equipment must be regularly replaced and made available. To ensure this, BYK installed vending machines at the Wesel site so that employees have easy access to protective equipment around the clock. Another improvement for the workforce in Wesel and at ELANTAS in Hamburg is the switch to blower helmets with a filter unit. This measure enables employees in affected areas to work ergonomically and safely, even in the event of exposure. Furthermore, a fire alarm system was modernized at ELANTAS in Hamburg.

In addition to preventing exposure to people and the environment, process safety takes center stage during filling operations. Special attention is given to adding solids, where a collaborative effort is made to carry out these operations in closed systems with an appropriate inert gas atmosphere. Additionally, if necessary, dust extraction and filtering measures are implemented. Individual companies have devised distinct safety concepts and invested in suitable equipment that considers the varied flow behavior and requirement profiles of different solids. These plant components, previously highlighted in the context of ergonomics and exposure, play a significant role in contributing to occupational safety.

Other examples of measures include the replacement of a storage container at ELANTAS in St. Louis, USA; the modernization of forklift trucks for use in explosion-protected areas at ELANTAS in Tongling, China; and the installation of traffic lights and warning signs at ELANTAS in Ascoli, Italy, to make employees aware of the vehicles in internal transport.

When working at heights, it is essential that appropriate safety ropes are available for attachment. Attachment points for work on platforms for unloading and on roofs were renewed at ELANTAS in Collechio and Quattordio. It is also important to pay attention to occupational safety when carrying out maintenance work. To this end, BYK purchased work platforms in Louisville to minimize the use of ladders.

Incidents in Detail

Based on the guidance for reporting on globally harmonized process safety key figures in accordance with the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and the definition provided by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), there were 26 significant incidents in the year under review. Twenty two incidents involved the release of chemicals. In none of the cases did chemicals escape into the environment, as they were contained by the prescribed containment systems and then disposed of properly. No employees were injured in any of these incidents.

Additionally, four fires were reported. A fire involving a measuring device at ECKART’s Schererville site in the U.S. resulted in minor damage. Also in Schererville, a fire with smoke development occurred inside a plant for thermal afterburning and exhaust gas cleaning. The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries to people or environmental damage.

At ELANTAS in Malaysia, a container ignited during the filling process. This led to a fire in the production building, which was extinguished by the local fire department. The entire workforce remained unharmed.

On August 27, 2023, a fire erupted in a tank farm at the Kempen site of BYK Chemie GmbH and was successfully extinguished within a few hours. As a precaution, residents in close proximity to the plant temporarily evacuated their homes. Ongoing measurements, however, did not indicate any elevated values or abnormalities. The extinguishing water utilized was efficiently collected by the existing retention facilities on the factory premises and disposed of as planned.