Occupational Safety and Health / Industrial Safety and Disaster Prevention

Basic Stance

Reflecting the core principle of “Making safety our first priority,” Sumitomo Chemical has formulated five fundamental and personal safety principles that each employee is expected to follow as well as guidelines based on the core principle. All Sumitomo Chemical employees and all involved parties, including partner companies, are thus united in promoting safety activities with the goal of eliminating all accidents. Furthermore, the Company undertakes stringent process risk assessments of the entire product life cycle (development, manufacture, distribution, use, disposal), and takes appropriate safety measures based on its evaluation of risks. The aim of these efforts is to prevent unforeseen industrial accidents, including fires, explosions, and the leakage of hazardous substances; to minimize damage in the event of a natural disaster such as a major earthquake; and to secure the safety and peace of mind of employees and local communities.

Sumitomo Chemical has acquired OSHMS*1 certification at its worksites. In addition, the Company implements PDCA cycles that support a host of measures on the path to realizing improvements based on risk assessments. These safety-related measures and their results are reviewed at the end of each fiscal year by the Responsible Care Committee, which is headed by the President. The reviews ensure a continuous connection to future fiscal years’ cycles, thereby strengthening safety and health activities that prevent accidents.

  1. By introducing and deploying ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 45001 and JISHA (Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association) OSHMS (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series) Standards equivalent to OHSAS 18001, the Company conducts sound corporate management and risk management from the perspective of occupational safety and health.

Core Principle: Making Safety Our First Priority

Raison D’être for the Core Principle

  1. Line management is fundamental to Safety and Health.
  2. Each person is responsible for Safety and Health.
  3. Sumitomo Chemical is united with partner companies on Safety and Health.

Five Fundamental and Personal Safety Principles that Each Employee is Expected to Follow.

  • I will give safety and health the top priority in every aspect of business.
  • I will identify and resolve safety and health issues at the source.
  • I will comply with rules and instructions.
  • I will act with safety in mind 24 hours a day, not just during working hours.
  • I will cooperate with all involved parties, including partner companies, to ensure safety and health.

Management System

The president serves as the chief coordinator and the executive officer in charge of Responsible Care serves as the coordinator of the Safety Group of the Responsible Care Department. This group is responsible for matters related to safety, health, industrial safety, and disaster prevention of the Company as a whole and supports the safety, health, industrial safety, and disaster prevention activities of Group companies. To assess the safety, health, and industrial safety management status and to consider measures for improvement, the safety, health, industrial safety, and disaster prevention departments of each worksite and Group company regularly meet and exchange information. In these and other ways, relevant departments work together to steadily enhance the level of safety, health, industrial safety, and disaster prevention activities.

In addition, Safety and Health Committees comprising labor and management representatives are convened every month at each worksite. The committees investigate and deliberate matters related to safety and health risks to all employees at worksites and promotes specific measures in unison with labor and management.

Goals and Results

Occupational Safety and Health

The Sumitomo Chemical Group*2 targets a frequency rate of lost-workday injuries of under 0.1, but its rate was 0.42 in fiscal 2019, down 0.16 year on year, failing to meet the target. Moreover, while the Group has set a goal of zero severe accidents,*3 it recorded one in fiscal 2019, one less than the previous fiscal year, failing to meet the target. In fiscal 2019, the number of lost-workday injuries was 27, a decrease of 8 year on year.

Frequency Rate of Lost-workday Injuries

Lost-workday Injuries (Sumitomo Chemical Group*2)

Number of lost-workday injuries 17 9 17 35 27

Industrial Safety and Disaster Prevention

The Sumitomo Chemical Group*2 achieved the target of “no severe industrial accidents”*4 in fiscal 2019 (zero severe industrial accidents in the five consecutive years since fiscal 2015). We see this as evidence of the success of our straightforward daily activities on the frontlines as well as the steady enhancement of our industrial safety management level.

However, there was one industrial accident, which is a minor accident whose scale does not reach that of a severe industrial accident, in fiscal 2019. We will work to enhance industrial safety management and quickly share the causes of the minor industrial accident and the lessons learned across the entire Sumitomo Chemical Group.

  1. The Sumitomo Chemical Group as defined for occupational safety and health, industrial safety, and disaster prevention: Sumitomo Chemical (including contractors) and consolidated Group companies in Japan and overseas.
  2. Severe accidents are defined as those that result in a fatality or those that result in severe lost-workday injuries, including blindness and loss of a limb.
  3. “Severe industrial accidents” refers to any of the following workplace incidents:
    • Accidents that cause injuries to local residents requiring outpatient/hospital treatment
    • Accidents that result in lost-workday injuries to workers on the site
    • Accidents that result in equipment and facility damage exceeding ¥10 million

Examples of Initiatives

Occupational Safety and Health

Sumitomo Chemical thoroughly investigates the causes of each accident and works to prevent accidents by taking such measures as ensuring strict adherence to safety rules, providing hazard prediction training, also known as Kiken Yochi Training (KYT), and sharing accident information. In addition, we are working to raise safety awareness among construction partner companies that enter our Works by distributing pocket-size booklets and entrance certificates that feature the ground rules and core principles of safety as we promote our initiative of “Making safety our first priority.”

Ensuring Thorough Compliance with the Sumitomo Chemical Group’s Basic Safety Rules (Ground Rules)

In light of trends in the causes of accidents, the Group has established the following ground rules and is working to ingrain safe behavior.

  1. Think Before You Act!
  2. Help each other to be more aware of unsafe actions
  3. Do not place hands in or around areas of working machinery/equipment

Improving Hazard Prediction Abilities

We are working to improve employees’ hazard prevention ability—their ability to perceive and avoid danger—through, for example, behavior-based safety training and workplace discussions using illustrations.

Sharing and Using Accident Data

The Group shares information about all accidents mainly for use in safety education and comprehensive on-site investigations. When an accident occurs, we conduct a thorough examination of the causes and organize studies on how to prevent recurrences through on-site inspections with the top management of the affected workplace and safety managers.

Awards for Safety

Safety awards are given to workplaces that achieve zero lost-workday injuries. The President’s Award for workplace safety is presented to workplaces with both a solid safety track record and good practices for safety and health, which could be an example to other workplaces. The President’s Award was given to eight workplaces in fiscal 2019.

Safety Promotion through In-house Magazine, Slogan and Poster

In our in-house magazine entitled “Raising the Level of Safety!” (entitled “Learn through Manga! Promoting a culture of safety” since fiscal 2019), we have introduced examples of accidents that tend to happen at work and their preventive measures in a series of articles on enhancing safety since fiscal 2013. We also collect ideas each year for a slogan and a poster for safety and health, and make a poster using the best ideas and display it at each workplace to raise safety awareness.

Preventing Severe Accidents in Subcontracted Operations and Construction Operations

Sumitomo Chemical is taking action across the Company to ensure the safety and health of all involved parties, including partner companies. For example, one of the key initiatives outlined in the “Fiscal 2019 to Fiscal 2021 Medium-Term Plan for Responsible Care Activities” and “Fiscal 2020 Annual Responsible Care Policy” is to respond to changes in employment structure, work to establish a foundation of safety ensure work safety and health, and promote measures to prevent severe accidents in subcontracted operations and construction operations. We also conduct thorough risk assessments.

Industrial Safety and Disaster Prevention

Risk Management Initiatives

Sumitomo Chemical manages risks related mainly to process safety, chemical (raw materials, products) safety, and occupational safety and health at each stage from new chemical process R&D through the commercialization process to plant design, construction, operation, maintenance, and even demolition. The items and procedures essential to risk management are specifically outlined in the Development and Commercialization Regulations, the Safety Management Guidelines, the Chemical Safety Management Regulations, and other similar documents that provide the standards for the Company. In addition, we introduced this system to major consolidated subsidiaries as part of efforts to enhance safety management across the entire Group.

Risk Management (Three Routes)

  1. Evaluation of New Processes
    The Process Safety Review Meeting (levels 1 to 5) convenes at every step, from R&D through to industrial-scale production. These meetings are held to identify risks related mainly to process safety and chemical safety, to review risk assessment results as well as to determine whether safety countermeasures are appropriate. This mechanism ensures that processes do not proceed to the next step unless adequate safety has been confirmed. Furthermore, before starting operations, the meeting conducts safety reviews to assess responses to risks related to occupational safety and health. For example, the meeting confirms the absence of problems in the operational environment (including temperature, noise, vibration, etc.), if safety signs are appropriately displayed, if necessary personal protective equipment and ample equipment and materials for emergency have been secured, and whether there is sufficient preparation of and education regarding instruction manuals.
  2. Management of Changes
    When certain changes are made to, for example, improve plant facilities or modify operating conditions, the Company conducts all necessary safety assessments before such changes are made to confirm whether there are new risks related mainly to process safety, chemical safety, and occupational safety and health following the changes and to, as needed, consider additional safety measures.
  3. Regular Review of Existing Processes
    Even when there is no change in the process, Sumitomo Chemical conducts regular process hazard reviews (no more than every five years, as a general rule) to catch up with the latest information on industrial safety technologies and to check whether there will be a significant impact from the long-term use of a plant. In addition, in our internal audits conducted every year for each workplace, we check whether or not safety management systems are functioning appropriately.

Preparation for Large-Scale Natural Disasters

Sumitomo Chemical drew up a basic plan on earthquake countermeasures in 2004, taking the initiative to improve the earthquake resistance features of equipment that was especially susceptible to the risk of damage. Furthermore, in accordance with recent directives by government authorities to improve the seismic adequacy of existing facilities, we made a plan to obtain required earthquake-resistant features of critical high-pressure gas equipment and are carrying out reinforcements and reconstruction in line with the plan. Before carrying out this work, we took measures to reduce risk and ensure safety, such as reducing the volume of gas held in equipment in order to decrease its weight and meet the earthquake resistance criteria.

In addition, as natural disasters continue to grow more extreme, including the typhoons and torrential rains seen in recent years, we continually review the current status of our safety measures to ensure they are adequate and take measures aimed at securing facilities and personnel as necessary. Furthermore, we confirmed that even in the event of flooding inside a Sumitomo Chemical plant due to a typhoon or torrential rain, the risk of the following is low: a loss of power to the plant’s cooling facilities or water-reactive substances inside the warehouse coming into contact with water causing large-scale fires and explosions that could cause trouble for neighboring residents.

Occupational Safety and Health / Industrial Safety and Disaster Prevention Education and Drills

Sumitomo Chemical has a variety of industrial safety educational programs that reflect the operational roles of employees throughout the Company. The programs are aimed at bolstering the ability of employees to acquire knowledge and skills in order to ensure process safety. In addition, we provide safety education to Group companies in Japan suited to each company’s needs.

FY2019 Main Safety Education Programs (Companywide Education)

NameTypePurposeBoundary participants

In-house Safety Management System Education


Fostering a deep understanding of the basic rules of safety management (the “Safety Management Guidelines”)

Sumitomo Chemical
(all worksites)


Disaster Prevention Theory

Group training

Promoting the acquisition of basic knowledge regarding safety and disaster prevention for fires, explosions, reaction hazards, static electricity, etc.

Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)

Group companies in Japan 5

Fire and Explosion Training

Group training and self-study

Promoting the acquisition of knowledge to prevent accidents and perceive hidden dangers in the workplace through hands-on training related to fires and explosions

Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)

Group companies in Japan 45

Company-wide Safety Education

Group training

Training that covers the latest topics each fiscal year (The training in fiscal 2019 involved defining process hazard scenarios and static electricity safety.)

Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)


Group companies and partner companies within Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)

HAZOP*5 Training Group training

Training personnel to learn the basics of HAZOP and to be able to conduct HAZOP

Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)

Group companies in Japan 0

Safety Engineer Training Course

Group training and self-study

Training personnel who have central roles in uncovering process hazard sources, carrying out appropriate risk assessments, crafting safety measures, and effectively reducing risks

Sumitomo Chemical (Works)

  1. HAZOP:
    A method of assessing process hazards that was developed with the aim of uncovering all latent hazards in chemical processes, assessing those impacts and results, and considering necessary safety measures.
  2. Training was postponed at some worksites to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

At each of their worksites, Sumitomo Chemical and Group companies conduct education when necessary regarding operational details, substances handled, and the setup of protective equipment for operators who need to consider occupational health and safety in situations such as operations in high places, operations in hazardous places with poor oxygen, operations in high or low temperature environments, operations in high-noise environments, and operations handling specified chemical substances and organic solvents. In addition, special health assessments are made, operational environments are monitored, and workplace patrols are regularly conducted by occupational physicians and health inspectors as we strive to upgrade and maintain operational environments.

Examples of Safety Education and Drills at Sumitomo Chemical Worksites

Safety Education Examples

Safety and health training for new employees, newly appointed supervisors, and newly appointed managers; briefings on laws and regulations (Industrial Safety and Health Act, High Pressure Gas Safety Act, Fire Service Act, etc.), health management system education, safety and health seminars (protective equipment, etc.), hazard experience training (exposure to liquids, squeezing, falling, etc., includes VR training materials.), hazard prediction training, also known as Kiken Yochi Training (KYT), training in accident analysis methods (why and what analysis, etc.) safety and health education in officers, traffic safety education, etc.

Safety Drill Examples

Petrochemical complex integrated emergency response drills (municipalities, companies in petrochemical complex districts), earthquake and tsunami evacuation drills, joint firefighting drills with specialized firefighting teams and workplace firefighting teams, drills using fire extinguishers and fire hydrants, drills on lifesaving procedures (AEDs, etc.), drills on emergency contacts at night and on holidays, etc.

In addition, for everyone at partner companies conducting operations within our worksites, we provide safety education for
entering worksites (basic policy on safety, basic rules inside worksites, etc.), construction supervisor training (supervisor obligations, risk assessments, etc.), hazard experience training, and more.

Industrial Safety Action Plan

Industry organizations came together with the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association and drew up an industrial safety action plan in July 2013 in a bid to step up efforts aimed at promoting industrial safety. Here we introduce the Company’s initiatives based on the action plan.

  1. Commitment by Top Management to Industrial Safety
    • Sumitomo Chemical has identified efforts to ensure full and strict compliance and maintain safe and stable operations as one of the Group’s priority management issues under its Corporate Business Plan.
    • The president issues a safety week message to all employees and Group companies in Japan and overseas to coincide with National Safety Week, which begins on July 1 each year.
    • We have held the President’s Awards for workplace safety on a continuous basis since fiscal 2012.
  2. Setting Industrial Safety Targets
    • Each year, Sumitomo Chemical sets targets for a variety of key parameters, including the elimination of all accidents resulting in lost workdays as well as all severe industrial accidents. The Company engages in a broad spectrum of activities aimed at achieving these targets.
  3. Drawing Up an Action Plan to Secure Industrial Safety
    • Sumitomo Chemical pursues activities aimed at thoroughly identifying industrial safety risks that encompass regular and irregular operations.
  4. Checking and Evaluating Progress toward Achieving Targets and Implementing Measures
    • The Responsible Care Committee reviews progress toward the achievement of targets and the implementation of measures. Findings under this review are reflected in the plan for the next fiscal year.
  5. Initiatives Aimed at Promoting Voluntary Safety Activities
    • The Sumitomo Chemical Group established the ground rules related to safety and strives to foster a culture of safety.
    • Sumitomo Chemical designates one day each month as a “safety day” in an effort to continuously focus the attention of the entire Group on the importance of industrial safety.
    • Academic experts conduct seminars and undertake an evaluation of safety assurance capabilities by the Process Safety Competency Center of Japan Society for Safety Engineering.

Logostics Initiatives

The Sumitomo Chemical Logistics Partnership Council was formed by Sumitomo Chemical and the logistics subcontractors (84 companies at 116 locations) for Sumitomo Chemical and its Group companies in Japan with the core principle of “Making Logistics Safety the First Priority.” The Council maintains committees for Works in each area as well as for logistical centers (transport and storage) and marine transport-related operations nationwide. The Council is expanding the Logistics Department’s Responsible Care activities.

In fiscal 2019, there were five lost-workday injuries related to safety and health. Fortunately, none of these injuries could possibly have led to a severe accident, but we will continue striving to uncover risks and further enhance our safety and health management level going forward.

In addition, as for industrial safety and disaster prevention, we present our logistics subcontractors with transport standards to ensure safety, such as safety management rules related to land and marine transport of hazardous substances, and strictly ensure the rules are followed. We built a system where we can cooperate with logistics subcontractors even during critical times when an accident occurs to quickly arrive at the crisis site and address the situation. Moreover, we strengthened the system from July 2019 by joining the Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Service of the Maritime Disaster Prevention Center.

Lost-workday Injuries in Logistics

Number of cases 3 0 0 1 5

Lost-workday accidents caused by logistics subcontractors on the premises of Sumitomo Chemical workplaces and lost-workday accidents caused by major logistics subcontractors outside the premises of Sumitomo Chemical workplaces.

Looking Ahead

Although activities to enhance a culture of safety have taken root, we currently have not entirely eliminated severe accidents, including those resulting in fatalities. To bring these accidents down to zero, we measure the level of the safety culture of each workplace and constantly strive to make improvements as we strive to foster a culture where safety is a given. In addition, we promote safety and health activities based on international standards (occupational safety management systems, machinery safety, etc.) and will continue adapting as we work toward realizing a society where people can choose from a diverse range of flexible working styles.

In addition, we will further strengthen our safety infrastructure by carefully managing our facilities and construction projects, providing advanced training for safety-related personnel, and introducing sophisticated risk assessment methods and cuttingedge technologies, including IoT, to bolster our employee safety and industrial safety management technologies. We will also reinforce our responses to new threats, such as intensifying natural disasters and terrorism.

Illustration of How We Ensure Safety through Safety Infrastructure and Safety Culture