We transport and store products and materials worldwide such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, raw materials, intermediates and waste, as well as technical materials and packaging, all of which could pose a hazard to health and the environment if handled incorrectly.
Our approach to safe transport and storage
We strive for all our shipments 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. To minimize danger to people and the environment, we therefore adhere to extremely strict safety regulations across our Group. The storage of such hazardous goods and the corresponding transport involved – whether by road, rail, plane, or ship – are governed by regulations applicable worldwide. Our standards cover all stipulated safety guidelines, and we ensure compliance through regular audits of our sites along with training for our employees and the leadership of contract warehouses.
How we achieve transport and warehouse safety
Transport and warehouse safety falls under our Group function Environment, Health, Safety, Security, Quality (EQ) (see Environmental stewardship), which sets Group-wide standards and guidelines. In addition, our individual sites are subject to various national and international regulations governing environmental stewardship and public safety, which local site directors are responsible for implementing.
Each of our sites around the world has an EHS manager and a dangerous goods manager, a position that equates to the “dangerous goods safety advisor” required by EU regulations. Both of these people advise the site director on the safe storage and transport of hazardous goods while also monitoring compliance with statutory requirements and our own internal standards.
Our EHS managers are also responsible for monitoring our contract warehouses. Before signing a contract with a third-party warehouse operator, we assess whether they properly adhere to national and international storage and transport regulations and if they are able to meet our additional requirements. The findings from this audit are summarized in a statement issued by EHS. If off-site warehouses employ additional subcontractors, these are also included in our audit.
Our commitment: Internal standards and international rules
Our Group-wide safety concepts and standards govern the safe storage of hazardous substances. Take our Warehouse Safety standard, for instance, which sets out measures to prevent materials from leaking or igniting and requires us to specify the dangers posed by any stored substance. Moreover, special rules of conduct apply to all warehouse employees.
Third-party warehouses must also adhere to our strict safety requirements. Before we sign a contract, providers must submit a statement detailing how they plan to meet our stringent safety standards, while audits are performed to ensure compliance from both our own warehouses as well as third-party facilities. To this end, in 2018 we drew up a standardized checklist that helps us assess contract warehouse risks. Furthermore, our Group standard “Warehouse Requirements for Third-party Warehouses” defines specific structural and organizational requirements.
In Germany, the Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances (TRGS 510 Storage of hazardous substances in non-stationary containers) govern the storage of packaged hazardous materials and apply across all our warehouse and distribution centers worldwide. We are currently working with the Committee on Hazardous Substances (AGS) of the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to revise these rules. Beyond complying with these requirements, all our sites fulfill the current requirements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
Our Group Transport Safety standard defines the safety levels for our facilities and is based on the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. This is especially important for sites in those countries with no local regulations covering the transport of hazardous materials. We update our Group standard to reflect current requirements every two years and support our site directors in implementing relevant changes at the local level.
Enhancing transport and warehouse safety
In addition to the inspections conducted by our EHS and dangerous goods managers, we regularly perform risk-based audits across our company to ensure that our sites are complying with warehouse and transport safety regulations. We generally conduct these every four years, performing them more frequently at facilities that pose a potentially higher risk. 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.
In 2018, we audited ten of our warehouse facilities for compliance with our Warehouse Safety and Transport Safety standards. All audit observations were assessed in terms of the areas where we can improve, with the focal points of the observations being scrutinized and addressed. In response to the deficiencies identified by these audits, we are currently reviewing and optimizing our processes for safety-related storage time limits. For instance, specific transport regulations require time limits, as does the use of stabilizers and desensitizers, while plastic packaging has a limited shelf life due to aging. Moreover, we drafted or revised training documents on load securing, safety data sheets, safety signs, and the safe use of pallet units.
Third-party warehouses and contract logistics companies are also regularly audited by our EHS managers. In 2018, we audited 15 third-party warehouses and external logistics providers, developing corrective action plans where deficiencies were identified. To optimize safety communication, we created additional informational material and distributed it to all our contract warehouses.
As a member of the SQAS Logistics & Distributors User Group, a service provided by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), we receive additional audit reports on our logistics service providers and evaluate these against our own set of criteria.
In 2018, no incidents that could have significantly impacted the environment or community were recorded at our company, our third-party warehouses or our logistics providers, nor were there any major infringements of international regulations.
Continuously evolving safety concepts
Our local EHS and dangerous goods managers regularly review and evaluate our transport and warehouse activities, informing site directors of shortcomings and opportunities for improvement. Underpinned by a strength and weakness analysis of each site, we calculate key performance indicators for transport and warehouse safety that help us determine where to institute additional improvements.
Employee training and best practice sharing
Multiple times a year, our warehouse workers and all employees involved in the transport of goods undergo training on our standards and procedures, as well as on incident management and changes to international requirements. The e-learning concept we’ve developed for basic management courses on hazardous material transport is mandatory for logistics, EHS and dangerous goods managers. By the end of 2018, the majority of eligible employees had completed such a course. To bolster this e-learning concept, we offered further classes on transport and warehouse safety. All our truck drivers hold a dangerous goods driver’s license, while in Germany they complete additional training on securing cargo, along with training required by the German Professional Driver Qualification Act (BKrFQG). Across the globe, we conduct around 1,000 internal and external seminars on transport and warehouse safety every year. In some cases, the managers of third-party warehouses also participate in these sessions.
To further best practice sharing, our EHS managers meet every three years at our EHS Conference in Darmstadt (Germany), where they have the opportunity to share lessons learned and participate in transport and warehouse safety training. These topics are also covered in the mandatory three-day orientation seminar for all new EHS managers. The next EHS conference will be held in 2019.
Ensuring correct transport
Our products are primarily delivered to our customers by means of logistics providers. In Germany, we transport the majority of our hazardous waste ourselves, but do sometimes also enlist the services of contractors if necessary. Furthermore, we participate in the German Transport Accident Reporting and Emergency Response System (TUIS) operated by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). Within this system, we exchange lessons learned and best practices on chemical transport with experts from other chemical companies and also provide hands-on assistance in the event of a chemical transportation accident. When a transportation or warehouse accident occurs, we can use our “TUIS Southern Hesse Measuring Concept” to quickly calculate the rate at which hazardous substances are spilling and spreading.
Making transport vehicles safer
The safe transportation of dangerous goods requires safe vehicles, another factor we take very seriously. Over the past few years, for instance, we have been constantly evolving our SafeServer truck body technology. Under this design, the aluminum panels integrated into the side walls of the truck render the walls extremely stable. In 2018, 14 of our trucks were already running with this technology.