Note 7: Safety

AkzoNobel strives to deliver leading performance in health, safety, environment and security (HSE&S) with a vision to deliver zero injuries, waste and harm through operational excellence.

Our strategic HSE&S priorities are aligned with the company’s Winning together: 15 by 20 strategy and are focused on driving:

  • Continuous improvement of HSE&S processes to achieve leading maturity levels
  • The implementation of an integrated HSE&S management system to drive continuous improvement and maintain best-in-class performance
  • A commitment-based HSE&S culture and embedding operational excellence to achieve our vision of zero injuries, waste and harm

People safety

In 2018, the number of reportable injuries reduced by 5% compared with 2017, while the injury rate is already at the target level set for 2020 (0.20). In total, 66% of our manufacturing locations have been reportable injury-free for more than a year. The overall downward trend in reportable injuries is in line with the increased maturity level in the implementation of our company safety programs, including the Life-Saving Rules, the continued implementation of the AkzoNobel HSE&S Common Platform programs and the drive for a commitment-based safety culture, promoting employee engagement and recognition.

However, the increased versus the 2017 performance. So although the total number of reportable injuries decreased in 2018, there was an increase in the severity of this year’s cases compared with 2017. Incident analysis of recent years has indicated that in 70% of all injuries, one of the root causes appeared to be people positioning themselves in the so-called line of fire (LoF), where either energy or substances were unexpectedly released. In response to this, a LoF awareness program was held for all employees in April. LoF was also the theme of our annual global Safety Day, when we introduced a LoF awareness game and, for the first time, used virtual reality for HSE&S training purposes.

Additional initiatives designed to further prevent injuries and reduce their severity include the implementation of Life Critical Procedures, a forklift safety “call to action” and a continued focus on embedding injury and illness case management. The objective of the latter is to proactively manage injury cases at an early stage, contribute to reducing the impact for the injured employee, promote return to work programs and, as a result, further reduce the lost time injury rate.

Employee total reportable injuries

injury rate

Safety – Employee total reportable injuries (bar chart)

The total reportable injury rate () is the number of injuries resulting in a medical treatment case, restricted work case, lost time case or fatality, per 200,000 hours worked. In line with OSHA guidelines, temporary workers are reported with employees, since day-to-day management is by AkzoNobel.

Employee lost time injuries

injury rate

Safety – Employee lost time injuries (bar chart)

The lost time injury rate (LTlR) is the number of injuries resulting in a lost time injury per 200,000 hours worked. Temporary workers are reported together with employees, since day-to-day management is by AkzoNobel.

The focus on contractor safety was further increased in 2018 with the introduction of standardized practices for safe working throughout the company, as well as standardized contractor management and evaluation procedures. Although the reportable injuries for contractors remained at the same level and lost time injuries decreased by 25%, the rates did not improve due to fewer hours being worked by contractors in 2018, compared with 2017 (-36%).

Contractors total reportable injuries

injury rate

Safety – Contractors total reportable injuries (bar chart)

The contractors total reportable rate (TRR) is the number of contractor injuries, resulting in medical treatment cases, restricted work cases, lost time injuries or fatalities, per 200,000 hours worked.

Contractors lost time injuries

injury rate

Safety – Contractors lost time injuries (bar chart)

The contractors lost time injury rate (LTlR) is the number of contractor injuries resulting in a lost time case, per 200,000 hours worked.

Process safety

We have developed a process safety management (PSM) framework for all our operations, following industry standards and best practices.

The PSM framework implementation was phased according to inherent risk, with the introduction at site level starting in 2014. In 2018, the remaining 48 sites completed their PSM improvement plans according to schedule and were validated.

A new management of change (MOC) procedure was introduced at our company globally. This process has now been digitized to allow an efficient, comprehensive approach.

Process safety performance indicators are aligned with international best practice. (LoPC) is the main process safety indicator at manufacturing sites, distinguishing between two levels of severity. As a leading indicator, sites also measure process safety events (PSEs), which are minor leaks or occurrences that could lead to more severe events.

Process safety events (PSE) pyramid

Safety – Process safety events (PSE) pyramid (graphic)
Process safety events




Loss of primary containment Level 1



Loss of primary containment Level 2



Process safety event Level 3



In 2018, we raised awareness and improved reporting of the process safety indicators. The total number of LoPC Level 1 and 2 increased by 44% in 2018, compared with 2017. The increase was partly due to increased awareness and improved reporting. During 2018, initiatives intended to improve working practices were introduced, such as a LoPC pocket card. This is also part of the Process Confirmation in the Leader Standard Work (LSW) process.

The number of LoPCs classified as Level 1 (highest severity) in 2018 slightly increased to six (2017: five). The number of PSE Level 3 (minor spills and leaks, which are readily controlled on site and have no regulatory notification requirement) increased, which demonstrates improved reporting discipline. All incidents are investigated to determine potential trends and to implement preventive controls.

Product stewardship

Product stewardship is our approach to ensure that product safety and sustainability are considered throughout the value chain – from raw material extraction, , manufacturing, transport, marketing and application all the way through to end-of-life. We aim to deliver value to AkzoNobel and our customers by ensuring regulatory compliance in every region where we operate, and to continually develop safer and more sustainable solutions for the market through our pro-active approach.

Continuous improvement

Our Product Stewardship Continuous Improvement Tool (PSCIT) is used to drive continuous improvement in product stewardship through collaboration at all levels. During 2018, we realigned the PSCIT to fit the new organization. The 2018 assessment will form the benchmark going forward for measuring the maturity of our business units on the eight key elements of product stewardship, following the principles of Coatings Care®.

Priority substance management

Our industry-leading and multiple award-winning priority substance program is a proactive approach to the review and management of hazardous substances in our products and processes. The program reached a key milestone in 2018 when we completed our review of all substances identified in the final project phase for risk assessment. We screened thousands of raw materials for review as part of the program, resulting in detailed analysis of 269 substances – 97 of which are now prohibited, while 172 have restricted use within our products.

The program is now considered to be fully embedded in the company, forming part of normal operational activities in the key functions that control raw materials used in our formulations. This was highlighted during 2018 when a prohibited substance was identified in products from a newly acquired business. In such cases, the program demands that a replacement is put in place within 12 months. Thanks to strong collaboration between our R&D and procurement teams, this was successfully achieved and the use of the prohibited substance has now ceased.


As well as ensuring a safe working environment, healthy working conditions and managing illness-related absenteeism, we also foster employee health and well-being as part of our health strategy and occupational health program. Examples include industrial hygiene (IH) programs and training at site level. During 2018, more than 130 site and regional HSE&S managers were trained on IH awareness.

The Wellness Checkpoint, our online health risk appraisal tool, is being used by an increasing number of employees and their families.

Employee health






Occupational illness frequency rate (OIFR) is the total number of reportable occupational illness cases for the reporting period, per 1,000,000 hours worked.

This parameter is reportable for employees and temporary workers.

Occupational illness rate





New Wellness Checkpoint participants






Security at AkzoNobel is focused on securing people, information, assets and critical business processes against willful security risks on-site and while traveling. The level of standardization of procedures, processes and training for employees dealing with security at all of our facilities will continue to increase.

A central security committee with functional representatives coordinates the main pillars of security: personnel security, facilities, information management (IM) security, travel security and intellectual property. The readiness of our security processes is assured via internal assessments, internal audits and security drills. In 2017, the definitions of security incidents were improved and communicated throughout the organization. In 2018, 168 security incidents were reported globally, an increase of more than 100% compared with 2017 (69). Theft and vandalism at AkzoNobel stores represented the highest event sub-type (similar to normal society).

A220-300 aircraft with a unique livery using AkzoNobel's aerospace coatings (photo)

We helped airBaltic fly the flag to celebrate Latvia’s 100th anniversary after one of its new A220-300 aircraft was given a unique livery using our aerospace coatings. The special project was carried out in Magnetic MRO’s paint hangar in Tallinn, Estonia, before the eye-catching artwork was gifted to the nation during an official ceremony at Riga Airport. It took 15 professional painters 1,000 hours to create the one-off livery, which honors Latvia’s red and white flag.

HSE&S management

AkzoNobel has a leading HSE&S management system driving continuous improvement through operational excellence in all aspects of HSE&S management. This includes procedures, regular performance reviews, training, self-assessments, annual improvement planning, independent internal audit and root cause analyses of incidents, as well as promoting learning across the organization, including best practice sharing. Our common processes require each site and business unit to develop their own safety improvement plan annually. Sites that are lagging in performance receive additional support from the central HSE&S organization.

During 2018, new supporting software for the AkzoNobel HSE&S management system was implemented: the HSE&S suite. This has been designed as an intuitive and user-friendly platform where the core HSE&S processes are digitized and through which available data can be analyzed and utilized for learning. The HSE&S suite will drive operational HSE&S excellence and will be further expanded during the coming years.

Lost time injury rate (LTIR)

The number of lost time injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Full definitions are in the Sustainability statements section.

Total reportable rate of injuries (TRR)

The number of injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Full definitions are in the Sustainability statements.

Loss of primary containment

A loss of primary containment is an unplanned release of material, product, raw material or energy to the environment (including those resulting from human error). Loss of primary containment incidents are divided into three categories, dependent on severity, from small, on-site spill/near misses up to Level 1 – a significant escape.


AkzoNobel Leading Performance System, a company-wide continuous improvement program.


Research & Development.