Safety

“Safety stays at the top of our agenda as reflected in our new Mid-Century Strategy. It is our goal to become a Safety Leader in the chemical industries”

Ton Manders

Technical and Safety Director

Process Incidents

Safety will remain Euro Chlor’s top priority in the coming years. In 2019, the process incidents and losses amounted to 3.15 incidents per million tonnes of chlorine production (up from 2.30 in 2018). This translates to 28 process incidents in absolute numbers (reported via the Sustainability Questionnaire).

increase in the number of process incidents and losses since last year

slight decrease in the coverage rate of incident reports

In addition to the increase in process incidents and losses, we see a decrease in incident reporting. None of these figures are alarming, due to the fact that the level of process incidents has stabilised over recent years following the improvements made during the first years of the Sustainability Programme.

Nevertheless, these latest developments do not meet our goal of continuous improvement with a zero vision. Therefore, both the Euro Chlor secretariat and membership will work hard towards a further decrease in incidents and an increase in reporting.

Euro Chlor’s MCS priority of becoming a Safety Leader in the chemical industries will only be possible if member companies consistently share experiences. Communicating and learning from each other in the fields of health and safety has always been a Euro Chlor strength and remains the only way forward to improve. Therefore, we will continue to encourage our members to invest time and effort in sending us detailed incident reports.

Occupational Safety

Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) for member company staff increased to 2.80 per million working hours in 2019 from 1.26 in 2018. On the other hand, the contractor LTI numbers showed an improvement by decreasing from 2.33 to 0.59 per million working hours.

increase in total number of LTIs (members of staff and contractors combined)

It is notable that, since 2011, the LTI frequency rate only includes incidents directly related to chlor-alkali industry specific items.

To make the figures more comparable, this year we have also looked at the total number of LTIs (combined for staff and contractors), which shows an overall rise in 2019 compared to 2018. Investigations are ongoing into how to return to the positive trend we saw during previous decades and to continue improving.

 

INTERACTIVE TRAINING GAME UPDATE

To assist our members in their efforts and help support our Safety Initiative, in June 2019 Euro Chlor began a project with the University of Delft (NL) to develop an interactive ‘game’ for use as a process safety learning tool by our members. This development work continued over the past 12 months and a prototype is now ready for testing by members. Unfortunately, this testing has been delayed due to the social distancing restrictions of the COVID-19 crisis and is now foreseen in the autumn of 2020.

The overall aim of this game is to reduce the number of incidents in chlorine plants. To achieve this, the game helps players to improve their knowledge and decision making, as well as reinforcing the importance, translation and application of this knowledge. The chosen target group is operators, shift leaders and engineers. Maintenance and plant managers should also benefit to create understanding and general awareness. The game is to be run in groups of 5 to 10 players, who sit together and discuss decisions and ‘solve’ incidents. Whilst the prototype is currently in the shape of a board game with scenarios, digital systems could be added later.

Health Working Group tackling the issues of EMFs, stress and burnout

Following on from Directive 2013/35/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on reducing occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), the medical experts in Euro Chlor’s Health Working Group (HWG) were still experiencing concern from their colleagues about these EMFs. Specific questions were fielded as to whether EMFs associated with electrolysis units could give adults cancer, harm unborn children or impact implanted medical devices.

To help address these concerns and enhance the previously launched posters and training presentations, the group has developed training videos that reassure workers that there is no link between EMFs from chlor-alkali units and cancer. The videos remind pregnant workers and people with implanted medical devices to seek further information as there may be places in the plant where they should not go. They are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch via the Health Documents library on the Euro Chlor Sharepoint or eurochlor@cefic.be.

The group is also finalising training material on how to identify and protect people from stress and burnout. Whilst not unique to chlor-alkali production, this advice is designed to help protect people from this ever-increasing issue. This will hopefully be available in the first half of 2021.

Transportation

On transportation, the total amount of chlorine carried via road or rail remained stable in 2019 compared to 2018. It represents around 4.3% of overall chlorine production. We are happy to mention that, as in previous years, no (chlorine) transport incidents were reported in 2019.

No change in the amount of chlorine transported from production sites

LOADING AND UNLOADING UPDATE

Euro Chlor members have expressed a need to focus more on improving the transport safety of all chlor-alkali related chemicals, not just chlorine. This has led to a safety commitment on the safe loading and unloading of chlorine, caustic soda, caustic potash, hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and sulfuric acid. This commitment contains a set of rules outlining how our members can enhance the safe loading and unloading of these chemicals at their own sites, customers and transport companies.

Safety communication

Euro Chlor’s Safety Initiative work over the past year has also advanced. This includes the revamping of our quarterly safety newsletter to allow members and partners to easily see the latest Incident Reports, safety discussions in every relevant meeting and the updates of several recommendations.