Safety is INEOS’ top priority. The company knows that its businesses won’t last long if it takes the safety of their employees and those living close to its manufacturing plants for granted. For years INEOS as a group has kept very tight control on its performance, using a system it inherited from ICI. Today it is doing things differently. It wants the world to be able to judge its performance against the very best
The world will soon be able to fairly judge INEOS’ safety performance against other petrochemical companies.
Multi-national chemical giants Shell, Dow Chemical, BP, and Exxon have, for years, reported their workplace injuries and illnesses according to the rules of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a federal agency of the United States Department of Labour that was founded during Richard Nixon’s US presidency in 1970.
For years INEOS – a company that has grown from acquisition – has used a system for recording ‘classified reportable injuries’ and illnesses that it inherited from ICI.
Now, though, it has decided as a Group to report under OSHA’s Umbrella, in line with other companies.
“Although the OSHA record keeping is an American-based system, it is recognised globally,” said Stephen Yee, Business Safety Health and Environment Manager based at INEOS ChlorVinyls.
“This will make it easier for us to compare our safety performance against the likes of Exxon,” he said. “We will now be able to compare like for like.”
INEOS’ businesses in the US already fall under OSHA regulations and INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA’s two largest facilities have already earned OSHA Star and Merit ratings under the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
Companies that qualify to join this programme must operate an effective health and safety systems that meets rigorous performance-based criteria. In short, they are deemed to go above and beyond what OSHA expects of them.
The INEOS system has worked extremely well and has enabled the company to significantly improve the safety performance of its businesses. As the company has grown over the years INEOS saw no need to change it.
The decision to now switch to OSHA record-keeping guidelines is a big and bold step.
“OSHA is very different,” said Stephen.
Whereas INEOS would not log an incident as a ‘classified reportable injury’ if a member of staff were prescribed paracetomol by a company doctor, OSHA would expect it to be recorded under its recording guidelines.
“Safety remains our highest priority and by making this change we will continue to monitor and improve our safety performance but the company will be recording events in a slightly different way” said Stephen.
To make the transition easier – and so that staff know that INEOS’ safety performance has not deteriorated overnight – Stephen said he had compiled a report to show how INEOS would have fared under OSHA record-keeping guidelines since 2002.
“We wanted to give staff an indication of what the figures would have looked like, across the company,” he said.
Since October, INEOS has been running both systems to ensure continuous improvement.
“By doing that our employees can continue to see what our performance would have been like under our old system,” said Stephen.
Making this change does not alter the company’s legal compliance and INEOS will continue to meet its regulatory requirements. “In every country we have local, legal requirements,” he said. “That won’t change.”
For the past four years INEOS’ safety record has improved year on year, and 2012 would have been its best year to date, save for a process safety incident at Lavéra in France last December, during which five firefighters were exposed to higher than normal noise levels.
“Because they were off work for more than three days it became a classified reportable injury,” said Stephen.
Safety is – and has always been – INEOS’ top priority, and INEOS prides itself on being open and honest about what it does, how it does it and the impact it has on its staff and those that live and work close to its 51 manufacturing sites.
“We have always tracked and reported more than we were required to do by law,” said Stephen, “and that engrained approach will not change under the OSHA system.”
Although some in the company may be unaware of OSHA, plenty others will know about the way it operates.
“OSHA won’t be totally new to many people because over the years INEOS has acquired businesses from companies where this system would have been operated before,” said Stephen.
All staff that are required to make the determination of an OSHA injury were trained in September last year and Stephen is on hand (along with teams from its US businesses) if there are any cases of doubt.
“For us, this does not change our view of the importance of safety across every aspect of our business. It is now just a different way to do things, but it is important that we make the transition smoothly and spend our time focused on keeping safe,” said Stephen.