The foremost mission of industrial safety and disaster prevention management is to prevent unforeseen industrial accidents, including fires, explosions, and the leakage of hazardous substances. At the same time, every effort must be made to minimize damage in the event of a natural disaster such as a major earthquake. Through these means, the Company is committed to securing the safety and peace of mind of employees and local communities. With this in mind, Sumitomo Chemical takes voluntary steps to put in place a safety management structure, 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 president serves as the chief officer of the Environment and Safety Group of the Responsible Care Department, and the executive officer in charge of Responsible Care serves as the officer. The group handles matters related to the Company’s overall industrial safety and disaster prevention efforts and supports Group companies’ industrial safety and disaster prevention activities. To assess the industrial safety management status and to consider measures for improvement, the 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 industrial safety and disaster prevention activities.
Note: The organization of Responsible Care activities is detailed on Responsible Care
Goals and Results
The Sumitomo Chemical Group*1 achieved the target of “no severe industrial accidents”*2 in fiscal 2018. The Sumitomo Chemical Group has not had a severe industrial accident in the four 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 construction and steady enhancement of our industrial safety management system.
However, there were four industrial accidents, which are minor accidents whose scale does not reach that of a severe industrial accident, in fiscal 2018. We will work to enhance industrial safety management and quickly share the causes of the industrial accidents 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 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
Process Safety Management Initiatives
Based on the Corporate Policy on Responsible Care (Safety, Health, the Environment and Product Quality), Sumitomo Chemical performs process safety risk assessments 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 assessment are specifically outlined in the Development and Commercialization Regulations, the Chemical Safety Management Regulations, the Safety Management Guidelines, 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 process safety management across the entire Group.
Process Risk Management (Three Routes)
- 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 review process safety 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.
- 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 ensure process safety levels are maintained after each change has been completed.
- Regular Review of Existing Processes
Even when there is no change in the process, Sumitomo Chemical conducts regular reviews 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.
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.
Industrial Safety and Disaster Prevention Education
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.
Main Safety Education Enrollment Results
|In-house Safety Management System Education||e-learning||Fostering a deep understanding of the basic rules of safety management (the “Safety Management Guidelines”)||Sumitomo Chemical (all worksites)||805|
|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)||81|
|Group companies in Japan||9|
|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)||197|
|Group companies in Japan||52|
|Company-wide Safety Education||Group training||Training that covers the latest topics each fiscal year (The training in fiscal 2018 involved points to be aware of when identifying process hazard scenarios.)||Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)||519|
|Group companies and partner companies within Sumitomo Chemical (Works, research laboratories)||67|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Initiatives for Ensuring Safety in Logistics Operations
The Sumitomo Chemical Logistics Partnership Council was formed by Sumitomo Chemical and the logistics subcontractors (82 companies at 113 locations) for Sumitomo Chemical Group companies in Japan. The Council maintains committees for Works in each area as well as for logistical centers (transport and storage) and marine transport-related operations nationwide. In line with its core principle of “Making Logistics Safety the First Priority,” the Council is expanding the Logistics Department’s Responsible Care activities. In particular, the Council has taken measures focused on eliminating accidents involving forklifts and accidents where body parts become caught or entangled in machinery. However, in fiscal 2018, there was one lost-workday injury involving a forklift. Going forward, we will continue drafting and implementing various measures to improve the situation.
Lost-workday Injuries in Logistics (in Japan)
|Number of cases||1||3||0||0||1|
Note: 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.
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 cutting-edge technologies, including IoT, to bolster our industrial safety management technologies.