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Plant, process and transport safety

We seek to minimize manufacturing process hazards wherever possible in order to prevent workplace accidents, production outages and chemical spills. To this end, we regularly review our approach to plant and process safety and continuously gauge it using our EHS key indicators.

Moreover, all our shipments are to reach our customers and sites safely, undamaged and with the required safety information. Several of the materials we store and transport are classified as hazardous. The storage of such dangerous goods and the transport thereof – whether by road, rail, air, or water – are governed by global regulations. To minimize risks to people and the environment, we apply strict safety requirements across the Group that also comply with applicable laws. We conduct regular reviews to ensure our own warehouses as well as those of third parties comply with these regulations.

Roles and responsibilities

Overriding responsibility for plant, process and transport safety lies with the Group function Corporate Sustainability, Quality and Trade Compliance (SQ), which coordinates plant and process safety for the company and defines Group-wide EHS standards and regulations.

Our commitment: Internal standards and international rules

To ensure safe operation throughout the lifetime of a plant, our Group-wide EHS standards contain specific rules for production plants and processes. These include specifications that determine how special risk analyses and hazard assessments are to be carried out. We have also defined measures for the event of accidental release of chemical substances and for fire protection.

Our Group-wide EHS standards stipulate the safety levels for the storage of hazardous materials at our sites. Along with supplementary standard operating procedures and best practice documents, these EHS standards describe the technology, equipment and organizational infrastructure needed to achieve the appropriate safety levels. Contract warehouses must also adhere to our strict safety requirements. Before we sign a contract with an operator, they must submit a statement detailing how they meet our prerequisites. Our Group-wide EHS standards also define the technical and organizational requirements for such warehouses.

Our Group Transport Safety Standard is based on the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. This guideline is especially important for sites in countries with inadequate local regulations covering the conveyance of hazardous materials.

Assessing potential risks

Before commissioning a plant, we draft a safety concept, which is subject to continuous review throughout the entire lifetime of the facility. It is updated as needed until the facility is decommissioned. This safety concept contains an overview of potential risks and specifies corresponding protective measures. In the event that alterations are made to a plant, we reassess the hazard and risk situation. Our Risk Management Process guides all our sites in identifying and assessing risks and serves to devise further measures to minimize them.

We use internal EHS audits to complement the inspections conducted by our EHS and dangerous goods managers in order to ensure that our sites comply with process, plant, transport, and storage safety regulations. Normally, these audits are conducted every three years at production sites and every four years at warehouse and distribution sites. If major shortcomings are identified, we re-audit the respective site the following year. Conversely, we may decide to extend the period between audits at facilities where, based on the findings from previous audits, we deem the potential risk to be low. Our sites are required to rectify any deficiencies discovered during the audit, with the auditor subsequently checking whether the specified corrective actions have been taken. In 2023, we conducted 34 EHS audits (2022: 41) in accordance with our Group-wide EHS standards.

Keeping a close eye on safety

We track EHS performance indicators at all production and warehouse facilities, as well as at major research sites, including both accidents and near misses. We investigate each individual incident and then devise appropriate countermeasures in an effort to reduce the likelihood of such events reoccurring in the future. EHS performance indicator data are reported once a month within each business sector, with the Executive Board receiving reports on the topic once per year. Four indicators are particularly important to us:

  • Under our EHS Incident Rate (EHS IR), we track and evaluate all major and minor accidents and incidents as well as further EHS-relevant incidents. The EHS IR covers both our own employees as well as those of contractors. To calculate it, we state the number of incidents and the severity of the event in relation to the number of hours worked. The lower the EHS Incident Rate, the safer the site is. In 2023, the ratio was 2.4 (2022: 2.8).
  • The EHS IR also contains our Loss of Primary Containment (LoPC) indicator. In 2023, we did not record any significant incident-related releases of substances (2022: two).
  • The EHS Leading Rate (EHS LR) reflects the number and the results of the analyses of near misses and hazardous conditions or behaviors, as well as other proactive safety activities such as risk assessments.
  • For the Lost Time Injury Rate (LTIR) we set ourselves the goal of lowering our Group-wide LTIR to under 1.0 by 2025 (number of accidents Group-wide resulting in at least one missed day of work per million hours worked). In 2023, our LTIR was 1.3 (2022: 1.2).

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