Chemical industry achieves record-setting process safety gains

This week, June 12-18, marks the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) inaugural Safe & Sound Week, a nationwide effort to help workers and managers understand the valuable role that occupational safety and health programs can play in helping to prevent workplace accidents.

As a Safe & Sound Week Partner, ACC joins OSHA and hundreds of other event partners to showcase the benefits of successful safety and health programs that identify and manage workplace hazards before they can cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the company’s bottom line.

For nearly 30 years, Responsible Care® has embodied the U.S. chemical industry’s commitment to environmental, health, safety and security performance excellence. Under Responsible Care, ACC member companies report out their progress on a variety of process safety-related performance measures each year, and ACC makes this information available to the public.

Responsible Care companies have a long record of worker safety gains that far outstrips the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole – five times better, on average – and almost three times better than the U.S. business of chemistry overall.

But while ACC Responsible Care companies are proud of their safety performance, they also recognize that the job is never done and that they need to constantly stay focused on identifying and addressing potential workplace hazards.

Emphasizing safety at all levels, including engagement from the board room can significantly move the needle. After reviewing industry progress over the past five years and identifying a plateau in process safety performance, the ACC Board of Directors implemented a series of approaches throughout 2016 to further promote performance improvement across member facilities. This included conducting forums and enhancing regional networks to share safety information and promote new metrics that enable a deeper understanding of process and occupational safety incidences.

These new initiatives, combined with a heightened engagement, focus and commitment to process safety, has resulted in significant improvements:

  • For the 2016 calendar year, the ACC overall total recordable injury rate fell to 0.7, or less than 1 injury/illness per 100 full-time employees, an all-time low for Responsible Care companies.
  • In the same time frame, the ACC Lost Work Day Case Rate (LWDCR) also reached an all-time low of 0.17, or less than one-quarter day of lost work per 100 full-time employees.
  • In the area of process safety, member companies reported 212 process safety incidents in 2016, which is the lowest level in more than 10 years and represents approximately 50 fewer incidents than in 2015. An analysis of this data shows that only 7 process safety incidents were Category 1 (most severe), while 115 fell into either Category 4 (least severe) or the “negligible” category.

A complete summary of ACC member company occupational and process safety performance is accessible on the Responsible Care section of the ACC website.

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