- Maintaining focus on personal safety good practices
- Enhancing personal safety awareness
- Benchmarking of occupational safety
Maintaining focus on personal safety good practices
Personal or occupational safety should be a core focus in every aspect of operations, fostering a culture of zero injuries throughout the entire organisation. This can be buttressed by the use of safety targets for everybody within the organisation, including the Supervisory Board. Safety is the responsibility of everyone, which is why following procedures, on-the-job training, eyes on task, and looking out for the individual and fellow co-workers are important in the workplace.
At each production site, leading safety indicators should be monitored using Health, Safety, Environmental (HSE) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs consist of a set of company-wide KPIs and a set of site-specific defined KPIs. Monitoring HSE KPIs is an effective approach to achieving HSE annual targets and stimulates continuous improvement in safety at all locations.
Some examples of Occupational Safety KPIs are:
- Safety Tours and Observations – A schedule should be made with frequent and regular plant tours and observation rounds to be done by all site employees, including site management.
- Contractors – Audit the contractors on work permits and perform Last-Minute Risk Assessments (LMRA) before the contractors start their job – where possible to be done at the actual working place; perform audits at contractors’ offices for the main contractors that work on site.
- Safe Work Practices and Procedure – Review a proportion of safe work permits each month; score must be >80%.
- Learning from Incidents – One-pagers (flyers) of incidents and near misses shared with all production sites.
- Safety Training – Develop and maintain a safety training program throughout the year and train employees according to the plan.
- Incident Investigation – Incidents must be investigated, and actions must be followed up within a certain timeframe.
Continuous attention on Occupational Safety can be maintained through:
- Monthly safety incident teleconferences, in which the safety responsible people of all sites participate. All incidents are presented, and the learning points shared.
- One-pagers (flyers) of incidents and near misses sent out to the company safety community. Sharing information about incidents and near misses with all the production sites provides lessons learned to avoid the same type of incident from occurring at other locations.
- Weekly HSE news articles are published, addressing all types of HSE topics. Most are work related, but also safety outside work (at home or while driving) is addressed.
- Quarterly publishing of an HSE newsletter where more in-depth knowledge is presented on HSE themes.
- Established company best practices and corporate standards.
- Conducting Corporate HSE audits at all sites. Such HSE audits take 1-2 weeks with a team of up to five HSE experts. During the audit, the site’s HSE practices are compared to the corporate standards and with industry best practices. The audit uses interviews, documents reviews, and plant inspections to check for housekeeping and technical compliance (corrosion, escape routes, safety showers, etc.). Every site is audited on a 3-4 years basis.
- An annual Safety Award program that recognises outstanding initiatives and achievements in the area of safety performance from a site or a team. The criteria for the award are based on three key elements:
- Safety Performance of the Site.
- An exceptional achievement or an out-of-the box idea improving the safety performance.
- High potential of learning for other sites or teams.
Enhancing personal safety awareness
A safety awareness and skills development program helps people avoid the unintentional mistakes that lead to injuries, especially the difficult to tackle ‘slip, trip and fall’ incidents. Such a program should address unintentional human error and critical safety habits, thereby reducing the risk and the probability of injury.
Such a programme should consider the risk associated with people in four mind-states:
These can cause critical errors while performing a task, due to eyes not being on the task, mind not being on the task, being in the line of fire, and loss of balance, traction, and/or grip.
A useful component of such a program is storytelling, which is a key element to teaching safety habits. It is the stories that people will remember long after the training is over. Using real-life stories is an effective way to demonstrate the message and the audience will better relate to and remember these examples: what happened, what state or states were the persons in, what critical errors did they commit, what safety technique may have prevented it, and how could the injury or close call have been worse.
An example of such a system is the SafeStart programme, developed by OCI. The OCI sites that use SafeStart begin every meeting with a SafeStart story. The story can be about an observation at work, but it can also be outside the work environment. The story promotes awareness of the four states and builds hazard identification and analysis skills. It is important that all employees have the skills to understand what mind-states or which quantities of hazardous energy might be hazardous; identify close calls or patterns that increase risk; and work on habits to fight complacency. The OCI sites that have implemented SafeStart as part of their safety culture have seen strong improvements within a short period of time.
Benchmarking of occupational safety
Safety benchmarking is a process for companies to compare their processes and performance with other companies in the same global industry. This information allows companies to learn from one another which ultimately can lead to improvements in the workplace.
The International Fertilizer Association (IFA) conducts annual safety benchmarking for all IFA members to participate on a voluntary basis. Companies that participate provide their performance metrics; e.g. lost-time injuries, lost-time injury rate (LTIR), total recordable injuries, and total recordable injury rate (TRIR) in the annual survey. This information allows members to compare their safety performance.
Every year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publish their annual Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Report. There were 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers during 2018. The 2018 report indicates the Nitrogenous Fertilizer Manufacturing, Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) was 1.9 and the Lost Time Injury Rate (LTIR) was 0.3. The OSHA calculations are based on 200,000 manhours. The fertiliser industry is not performing better than the other industries in the US. The nitrogen producing fertiliser industry, which ammonia plants are part of, are performing somewhat better than the average.
This page is based on Duisters, 2020.
Links to Related IFS Proceedings
693, (2011), Strategies for Workforce Replacement in a Dynamic Business and Regulatory Environment, R Pfaff
843, (2020), Occupational and Process Safety in Ammonia Plants – Pitfalls to Avoid, H Duisters
Links to external resources
International Fertiliser Association Safety Handbook. Establishing and Maintaining Positive Safety Management Practices in the Work Place
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