Managing Health, Safety, Environmental and Security (HSE&S) issues is a cornerstone of a successful coatings and chemicals industry. We have global HSE&S standards in place to ensure our sites protect people, assets, the environment, the business and society at large.
Our HSE&S management system drives improvement on underlying issues that are important for future success. At company level, we have HSE&S Key Performance Indicators included in the strategy dashboard, with improvement targets and reporting requirements. There are also additional HSE&S metrics to monitor performance. The individual businesses and sites are responsible for developing, executing and monitoring improvement objectives and programs to achieve the required performance.
Following the 2008 integration activities, in 2009 we focused on implementing and embedding the changes to standards and systems. The main areas have been:
- Implementing the new standards for process safety and occupational health
- Embedding new KPIs and reporting
- Piloting the new HSE&S audit process
- Strengthening safety leadership and crisis management processes
- Incident investigation and shared learning.
The crisis management processes have been strengthened and detailed guidance on notification and handling of potential crises have been implemented at our operating sites. Several simulation exercises, which tested the full response and communications chains from site to business unit to corporate level, have been chaired by a Board member.
We have developed a Safety Leadership Program targeted at senior business leaders. The first sessions, held in the Netherlands, involved all members of the Board of Management and the Corporate Directors. The program is being rolled out across business management teams.
Two regional HSE&S managers have been appointed in the Americas and Asia Pacific to improve cross-business learning and sharing of best practices. They have supported businesses in the setting up of regional/country networks and the organization of workshops to build HSE&S capability and improve awareness and compliance with HSE&S legal and internal requirements.
An HSE&S alert system, to share learning on serious incidents and near misses, is now fully operational and reaches our HSE&S professionals worldwide. Where appropriate, they develop local language versions for onward transmission. A global incident reporting system will be rolled out during 2010.
HSE&S capability building and career development
Following a company-wide HSE&S risk assessment, we have started a project to strengthen and formalize our HSE&S capability standards and development processes. This will cover both HSE&S professionals and management roles with critical HSE&S functions, including production managers, responsible engineers and site managers. The competency framework will be built into the annual performance assessment and development planning activity during 2010.
Operational management systems at our sites are integrated on quality and HSE&S. They are risk-based and follow the Responsible Care® and Coatings Care® principles. Our management standards are set up and updated in accordance with international standards such as ISO-9000, ISO-14001, RC-14001 and OHSAS-18001.
The new HSE&S audit process combines a continuous improvement tool for sites with a periodic audit managed by our auditing department. During 2009, we carried out 60 corporate HSE&S audits and six re-assurance audits. The first group of audits was used to test, calibrate and fine-tune the new process. Sites and auditors have been positive about the depth of analysis available and the focus on priority improvement actions and follow-up. Based on the outcome of these audits, we have successfully calibrated and further improved our new auditing method. Improvements and adjustments have been made and internal auditor training is planned for the start of 2010. The new process will be fully implemented across all our sites.
Major warehouses and all manufacturing sites undergo periodic audit by multidisciplinary teams of HSE&S specialists. Larger sites also have external insurance audits. The HSE&S audit intervals are risk-based and are determined by the inherent hazards present on site and the outcome of the periodic audit. All sites are audited at least once every five years. During 2010 we will introduce a modified audit protocol for offices.
There were nine serious incidents (Level 3) during 2009. In order to improve management focus and learning from serious incidents, we have extended the corporate requirements for incident reporting. There are now three categories, ranging from local impact to serious incident. These incidents are investigated to identify root causes, take remedial action and share learning as appropriate across our other sites.
We regret that three contractors died while working for AkzoNobel during 2009. In May, an AkzoNobel contractor was among the fatalities in a terrorist bomb attack on a government building in Lahore (Pakistan). Two months later, a contract operator died as a result of an equipment incident at a plant in Tunisia, while in November, a contract painter suffered a fatal head injury at a customer site in Singapore when he was hit by falling debris from a wall being prepared for painting. Although not under our control, three incidents involved fatalities to truck drivers in Colombia, China and India, while they were distributing our products. Finally, three members of the public died in Equador, Egypt and Russia following motor vehicle incidents involving our employees. All these incidents have renewed our focus on contractor management and adequate equipment isolation.
number of incidents
We have defined three categories of regulatory action, from self-reported issues (Level 1) to formal legal notifications (Level 3), and are reporting on these for the first time. There were three Level 3 incidents during 2009 – a waste water consent exceedance in Rotterdam; a cubic meter paint spill to the rain water sewer in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary; and a serious injury in Barcelona which resulted in a legal investigation.
Security of assets, people and information is an integral part of our HSE&S management system. Security assessments help our sites to identify risks and put in place appropriate security protection, as well as meeting the demands of increasingly strict legislation in the US and Europe.
Our business travelers and employees in some parts of the world are subject to less controllable risks. Since 2009, we have been using an external provider to supply in-depth global information, real time updates on potential security threats and health risks, and expert support during any crisis situation.