Our safety management systems comply with globally applicable requirements and standards, and we are constantly developing our safety management along with our corporate culture. In doing so, we focus not only on the safety and health of our employees at work every day, but also on preventing potential environmental and health impacts as a result of leaks from production facilities or accidents while transporting hazardous goods and other materials. Our integrated HSEQ management system plays a key part in achieving these goals.
Occupational health and safety
Protecting the health and safety of our employees at work and during work-related activities is among our top goals. This aligns with our social and ethical responsibility as an employer and our business responsibility as a company.
In terms of prevention, potential risks are evaluated based on uniform Group-wide criteria to prevent workplace accidents and work-related illnesses as effectively as possible. Nonetheless, should an incident occur, we investigate the root cause. For this purpose we introduced a methodology that enables us to reach conclusions after objectively investigating incidents. Recommendations for further action are derived from these findings and implemented to prevent similar risks from arising again.
In this context, in 2018 we decided to focus on the hand safety of employees while at work and on human–machine interaction. Our long-term goal with these programs is to prevent all accidents that require medical treatment. To make our workforce more aware of this issue and generally increase their attentiveness during their daily work, a “Team Resources Management” training program will be rolled out – initially as a pilot project. This focuses on behavior-oriented interactions in a team in order to prevent interactions in risk situations becoming triggers for an incident. Moreover, rigorous implementation of safety standards when employing contractors led to a significant reduction in the contractor accident rate in 2018. Through the implementation of the “SafeGuard” program, we envisage injecting further impetus into the company to improve overall safety levels and consequently reduce the number of accidents.
In 2018, a total of 74 recordable incidents occurred involving our employees and those of third-party companies (contractors). The workplace accidents recorded were those resulting in days missed, alternative work or medical treatment (accidents requiring treatment beyond first aid).
Accident rates are regularly analyzed by site, by region and by workplace accident hotspots. Fluctuations provide an indication of the structural differences that need to be discussed with the sites and business units when analyzing, then deciding on and adapting measures to local requirements.
Process and plant safety
Safe, reliable operation of our production facilities is an essential prerequisite for protecting people and the environment and for achieving economic success. All work performed at a plant must be carried out with the requisite technical expertise and great care throughout its entire life cycle.
The foundation for safe operation is laid already during the planning and construction phases, e.g. by the selection of processes, the layout of machinery and equipment, and the use of suitable materials. All process conditions are systematically analyzed in multi-stage risk assessments, potential deviations or disruptions are identified, and appropriate safety plans are developed with the aim of effectively avoiding or mitigating their possible effects. This proven approach was a significant reason why new world-scale plants and additional capacity could be commissioned without problems.
In addition, existing facilities are continuously monitored and maintained. As well as keeping pace with technological advances, this also improves the efficiency and sustainability of plants and processes on an ongoing basis. Our products are also continually optimized. In turn this necessitates changes to our professionally designed and built plants and processes. These are implemented using a management of change (MOC) approach. This entails compliance with internal and external regulations and the applicable HSEQ laws when realizing technical changes.
Maintenance and inspections as well as technical alterations frequently necessitate potentially dangerous work. Such work is carried out during planned system downtimes – either individually or as a bundle of changes – and is organized using work permits. In addition to a detailed description of the work to be done, the permit includes an assessment of the hazards and an outline of the required safety and protective measures. Everyone involved in the work is informed of this and must sign to confirm they have received this information. The responsible plant and technical operatives involved – plus additional safety officers if necessary – monitor compliance with the measures and the safe performance of the work.
To provide integrated information security management, Corporate Security continually develops and improves processes and protective measures. The types of knowledge to be protected, availability and integrity are also addressed. The integrity of transmitted data and manipulation-free operation of the systems controlling our plants are essential for the security of our facilities. In the ongoing expansion of information security management, disruption-free operation of our plants is a goal we continually pursue. All relevant plant safety incidents are always recorded and investigated. The findings from investigations in previous years are evaluated in a company-wide program called “SafeGuard”.
Environmental and transportation safety
Covestro is committed to maintaining uniformly high global HSEQ standards along its entire value chain and to optimizing these on an ongoing basis in a continuous improvement process (CIP).
Transportation safety, as well as the safe handling and safe storage of intermediates and finished products (“transportation and logistics activities”), are critical for ensuring the safety of humans and protecting the environment.
All types of transportation and logistics activities pose potential risks for people and the environment. Identifying such risks, and defining and implementing safe procedures and processes at Covestro, forms the foundation for ensuring safety in transportation and logistics activities.
As all transportation activities and nearly all associated logistics activities, such as warehousing and transshipment, are performed by transportation and logistics service providers contracted by Covestro, it is imperative for Covestro to exercise a high level of control over the services provided by these numerous companies.
In order to minimize the risks associated with these transportation and logistics activities, compliance is strictly monitored on the basis of industry-specific statutory requirements and Covestro’s own specific requirements with the help of a series of systematic control points. For instance, risk assessments must be carried out for all hazardous goods to identify risks in a timely manner and then mitigate or completely eliminate them by implementing appropriate measures. To improve the practicality and productivity of efficiency analyses, a methodology was developed in 2018. Implementation in all regions is scheduled for the beginning of 2019. The corresponding description is intended to be incorporated into our corporate regulations.
- TDI plants from 300 kilotons per year
- MDI plants from 400 kilotons per year
- Polyether polyol plants from 300 kilotons per year
- Polycarbonate plants from 240 kilotons per year
- HDI plants from 40 kilotons per year