Raw materials for the cosmetics industry, lightweight construction materials for the aerospacesector, and high-grade plastics are some of the products Evonik manufactures in the Greater China region, which includes China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Evonik operates ten production facilities in the region, including plants in Shanghai, Jilin, and Nanning. About 3,000 employees work in these facilities, which posted sales of about €1.3 billion in 2016. “Of course we’re proud of our ultramodern production facilities and the quality of our products. But we’re equally proud of our high level of occupational and plant safety,” says Yonggang Bu, Head of the region’s Environment, Safety, and Health unit.
At Evonik, safety and health are the top priority throughout the company. For years now, it has had good overall safety figures all over the world. Targeted measures in the Greater China region, as well as throughout the Group, support the continuous improvement of its levels of safety.
The Safety at Evonik initiative, which was launched in 2013, further reinforces the company’s safety culture. The basic aim of the initiative is to change the behavior of all employees, supervisors, and managers. A set of safety guidelines has established basic principles of action and standards that are binding all over the world. These principles are being embedded at Evonik through training courses that are divided into six modules. In the years ahead, all of the company’s employees will complete these modules. The Greater China region is setting a good example: 99 percent of all the employees in this region completed the fourth module of the Safety at Evonik initiative last year.
What’s more, employees, executives, and safety experts in the region are attending additional workshops that deal with near-accidents—dangerous situations in which an accident was avoided at the last minute. The aim is to ensure that all the participants are aware of possible risks in their work environment and can react appropriately in case of an emergency. “We are encouraging our employees to report every near-accident. An analysis of these situations will help us find out how we can avoid real accidents,” says Yonggang Bu. On paper, the number of reported near-accidents at the locations in the Greater China region was significantly higher in 2016 than in 2015. At first glance, that’s a setback—but at second glance it’s the desired result of the training sessions. “We’ve managed to raise our employees’ awareness of this important theme. Thanks to our systematic reporting process, we can now further expand our prevention systems,” Yonggang Bu explains.
In order to guarantee safety, he and his team conduct regular audits at the Evonik facilities. During these audits, the safety experts investigate whether Evonik’s stringent company-wide standards are being complied with. Possible problems are openly discussed. Finally, the team gives the management recommendations for future activities. In addition, Evonik’s Global Process Safety Competence Center (GPSC) offers participants opportunities to have discussions and learn from one another using examples of best practice. The experts from the interdisciplinary staff of GPSC develop safety concepts for all Evonik facilities throughout the world on the basis of the Group’s high standards. They visit the facilities and join local managers and staff members to identify and discuss potential hazards. This is how Evoniksets a good example not only in the Greater China region but also on the global level. “We will continue to forge ahead with our safety precautions at the technical and organizational levels,” says Yonggang Bu. After all, every accident is one accident too many.