The first stage in ensuring the safety of our plants is to systematically identify risks and assess them. This includes analyzing not only how well we control the energy present in a process (e.g. pressure, heat), but also what effect a single error might have on a chain of events that could culminate in the escape of a substance or an accident. After completing this comprehensive analysis, we specify safety measures to prevent undesired events.
Safety Training & Inspections
WACKER attaches particular importance to providing its safety experts with ongoing training. We hold regular training sessions, for example, on plant safety and explosion-damage protection. Group experts organize safety training at WACKER sites, including those outside Germany. The regional focus of sustainability management in 2017 was Asia. The Chinese sites Nanjing, Shanghai and Zhangjiagang, as well as the Kolkata site in India, underwent occupational health and safety inspections. In 2018, we audited our sites at Charleston, Adrian, Eddyville and Calvert City in the USA.
In 2017, WACKER Greater China organized Safety Days at its Shanghai, Zhangjiagang and Nanjing sites for the sixth time. The Charleston site held a Safety Day in 2018, while the Adrian site in the USA and Jandíra in Brazil held such events in both years of the current reporting period. Another Safety Day took place at the Singapore site, where WACKER employees completed a training course aimed at increasing safety awareness and improving the ability to respond correctly in the case of an emergency.
Low accident figures are a reflection of safety-conscious conduct. At WACKER, we give special recognition to facilities that operate for sustained periods of time without a reportable accident. Some of these have also been honored by institutions outside the company. The site manager of the Ulsan plant in South Korea, for example, was presented with a Safety Award from the Korean Chamber of industry and Commerce in 2018. The Ulsan site received this award to honor the fact that it had notched up 17 years without an accident.
No matter how many preventive measures are taken, accidents and environmentally relevant incidents can never be completely ruled out. At WACKER, we make sure we learn from such events to prevent their recurrence. One example of this is an incident that occurred in 2017: at the Burghausen site, trichlorosilane leaked from a defective pipe bridge, due to corrosion. The incident prompted the development of a program with which pipe bridges have since been protected even better against corrosion and checked more intensively – at all WACKER sites that have pipe bridges or long connecting pipes outside buildings.
WACKER ensures that its products are safely stored and transported. We carefully inspect vehicles before loading them, especially where hazardous goods are involved. In 2018, we had inspections carried out on some 12,000 trucks (2017: over 11,000). If a vehicle fails an inspection, we refuse to deploy it until the defects have been remedied. Failure rates have been extremely low for years now. The rate for 2018 was about 2.0 percent for hazardous goods shipments leaving Burghausen, our largest site (2017: 1.4 percent).
As elsewhere, we rely on well-trained personnel for transport safety. In 2017/2018, more than 2,700 employees in Germany alone attended classroom-training sessions on the shipment of hazardous goods, while over 1,700 participated in online courses on securing freight.
We regularly discuss the issue of transport safety with our logistics providers in Germany, for example during our annual Supplier Day. If deficiencies are found, we agree on improvements and then follow up on their implementation. WACKER uses in-house criteria and internationally recognized systems to select logistics providers and assess their performance. Via contractually defined specifications (such as a requirements profile for providers of road transport logistics), WACKER ensures that both its contractors and their subcontractors meet the company’s stringent safety requirements. As part of the annual audit plan, selected hazardous-goods shippers are audited for compliance with these requirements and, if necessary, improvement measures are agreed.
For products with a high hazard potential, we use packaging and tanks of the highest quality. In addition, we assess the route to be taken by these transports and choose the one with the lowest risk.
When monitoring the distribution of our products, we also record any transport incidents not involving hazardous goods, as well as those that have no negative impact on people or the environment. Such incidents are an important factor in the annual assessment of our logistics providers. We recorded a total of 11 transport incidents that did not involve hazardous goods in both 2017 and 2018.