Chemical safety statistics improve yet again

South African employers reported improved chemical safety statistics, including injuries and diseases, said Responsible Care chairman Joaquin Schoch.

None of the fatalities last year were directly related to chemicals, according to data in the Responsible Care Performance 2014 report released in Johannesburg in November 2014.

The number of fatalities had decreased from 11, to five last year, which were all related to transportation of goods by member company fleets, and none by contractors of member companies.

“Operators must pay careful attention to the root causes of fatalities and chemical safety incidents on the road, which included fatigue, speed, and reckless driving,” said Schoch.

The Chemicals and Allied Industries Association queried employers on behaviour-based safety programmes for drivers. Only 31% of members noted that a BBS programme for drivers of dangerous goods had been implemented.

SA chemicals safety statistics on injuries
Occupational injuries data in the chemicals sector, among Responsible Care members, representing the vast majority of the sector, include fatalities, diseases, and transport incidents. Recordable injuries appeared to increase due to improved reporting.

A total of 1.015 injuries per 200 000 hours worked in-house, irrespective of their nature, took place during 2013.

Chemical-related recordable injuries are primarily being caused by (in no particular order of magnitude);
[] lack of training
[] lack of discipline in terms of concentration
[] insufficient operating procedures and PPE use
[] insufficient engineering provisions
[] operator error
[] inadequate management systems.

Similar causes can be attributed to non-chemical-related recordable injuries. Provisions that chemicals customers and users may need to have in place, appear to be linked to these kinds of injuries. Such provisions include;
[] adequate housekeeping
[] space for operations
[] correct tools available.

The recordable injury incident rate for contractors of signatories, again appears lower than that of the signatories themselves, which may be attributable to differences in their hazard exposure profiles compared to in-house employees.

For both types of workers, chemical-related recordable injuries are in the minority. Increased attention should be given to safety while conducting non-chemical- related activities, said Schoch.

Chemicals industry occupational diseases statistics
The occupational disease rate in the SA chemicals industry has decreased significantly for in-house employees. More members are reporting than in previous years and confidence in the data is high.

CAIA encourages the use of PPE as per regulation but stresses, through Responsible Care, the importance of management developing strict controls to ensure that workers use the correct PPE appropriate to the circumstances.

These measures reduce workers’ exposure to daily occupational hazards that cannot be otherwise effectively controlled through more permanent engineering interventions, said Schoch.

Chemicals transport and road safety statistics
A minority of signatories use rail or pipeline transportation, so road hazards and risks loom large in the chemicals industry. In-house transportation-related incidents have decreased significantly. The transport-related incident rate for contractors who supply road logistics services has also decreased significantly year-on-year.

Chemicals storage and warehouse incident statistics
CAIA has noted that further guidance needs to be given on how storage-related incidents should be reported, as there is uncertainty surrounding the calculation of “amount stored”. This is because the chemical industry uses a variety of methods to store products and/or raw materials (for example tanks versus warehouses).

These incident reports should relate to handling, and the same material may be involved in two kinds of incident reporting.

Based on the previous cycle’s method of reporting and calculation, storage-related incidents have increased slightly, for both in-house and contractor employees.

Signatories were requested to supply information on the nature and root cause of storage-related incidents. CAIA will then inform members of the most common causes of storage incidents and how they could be prevented and their effects managed.

It seemed that operator negligence, and equipment or infrastructure or container failure, were the leading reasons for loss of containment.

Chemicals environmental incidents statistics
Per tonne of production in the South African chemicals industry, there has been a 64% reduction in the amount of effluent discharged (SA Responsible Care report 2014).

There has been better water use efficiency at new plants that do not generate effluent. signatories have reported that 600 million more litres of effluent were recycled last year. This represents a year-on-year improvement of 3.8% to bring the total to 16.5 million kilolitres of recycled effluent.

However, CAIA has noted that more than half of signatories are not measuring the effluent being recycled.

Chemicals solid waste statistics
Generation of solid hazardous waste is now shown as a component of the amount of total solid waste generated. The total of solid waste per tonne of product remains relatively stable while the total amount of solid hazardous waste which is being generated is decreasing.

Schoch noted that the risk of injury is controlled as far as possible through process safety engineering, with operational procedures and PPE as a last resort.

”The recordable injury incident rate – which includes storage incidents, injuries that resulted in fatalities, occupational diseases and other injuries – appears to be increasing and signatories need to pay attention to this.

Process safety management practice standard 2015
The draft Responsible Care Process Safety Management Practice Standard and Audit Guidance Document were reviewed last year. The new standard and audit protocol have been aligned with the content of the Responsible Care Process Safety Training modules that are based on CCPS Risk-based Process Safety.

Each of the Responsible Care management practices describes an activity or approach important in the prevention of fires, explosions and accidental releases.

Collectively, the management practices encompass all the elements of process safety – from the design stage through to operation, maintenance and training.

Implementation of the new revised Process Safety Management Practice Standard will become mandatory for RC signatories in January 2015.

Process Safety Forums continue in 2015
The SA Process Safety Forums aim to sustain a safety culture in the chemicals industry, partly by sharing information, and continuously identifying, reducing and managing process safety risks.

There are Process Safety Forums in Johannesburg (Gauteng Forum) and in Durban (KZN Forum). Technical personnel who include plant engineers, operational personnel as well as safety, health and environmental coordinators and managers support and attend the fora meetings.

The fora encouraged participation of academics from tertiary institutions and chemical engineering students.

Responsible Care Process Safety Fora agendas include;
[] root causes
[] lessons from process safety incidents
[] process safety best practice information
[] human factors in process safety performance
[] process safety tools
[] updates on the revision of the South African Major Hazard Installation Regulations
[] audit checklists for first-line supervisors

African chemicals safety interventions
Two members of the Gauteng Process Safety Forum, Carina Burger of Impala Platinum Refineries, and Ian Philander of NCP Chlorchem, represented the South African chemical sector at a training course on chemicals safety management for state authorities in Africa.

Some of the other African countries that attended the training included Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia, the DRC, The Gambia and Cameroon. The course was organised under the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Programme for Africa and by the government of Germany.

The Department of Safety Engineering at the Bergische Universität, Wuppertal, hosted the course. Topics included the OPCW, explosion and toxic gas hazards, the importance of Quantitative Risk Assessments (QRA), and hazard and operability studies (HAZOP) for process risk management as well as emergency management, human factors and safety measures.

Practical exercises were carried out in a laboratory, and at the university’s mini-plant that was built for the course, as well as visits to emergency services and chemical plants including Bayer and AXALTA.

• Source; South African Responsible Care Performance Report 2014.

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