At Chemours, our purpose guides and informs our unshakeable commitment to protect the environment and the health and safety of our customers, colleagues, and communities. Safety is a defining part of who we are as a company. In fact, Safety Obsession is one of our core values, expressing our bedrock belief that a safe workplace is a profitable workplace. We live that value every day at every Chemours location the world over.
Why? Because we care about one another. Chemours is committed to the well being of our co-workers, our families, and the communities in which we operate, and they have all come to rely upon us—and indeed fully expect us—to deliver the highest levels of safety performance. It is an expectation we take seriously at Chemours; safety is simply the right thing to do, always.
Whether at a manufacturing site, laboratory, or office, every Chemours employee is expected to work safely. We work together to identify risks, prevent incidents and injuries, and continually improve our safety performance. Every employee is empowered to pause or stop work at any moment to ensure the safe completion of the task. We ensure that our workforce is properly trained and that they understand our safety-performance expectations.
Should an incident occur nonetheless, we are vigorous and disciplined in our efforts to understand the key factors surrounding the situation so that we can learn and take remedial action—all with the goal of preventing future recurrences. And we share our learnings with our colleagues globally. A safe workplace requires the diligence and hard work of all of us at Chemours. Every hour. Every day.
A lot of work? Absolutely. But consider the reward—our employees, our contractors, and our communities are safe, and that makes everything we do worthwhile.
As a member of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Chemours is committed to Responsible Care®, a global initiative which began in 1988, focused on environment, health, safety and security; our U.S. sites use the Responsible Care Management System® (RCMS). The ACC approved Chemours’ membership effective July 2015, setting interim milestones for our achieving RCMS third-party certification in 2019. We are committed to that timetable and will begin reporting RCMS worker safety, transportation safety, process safety, product safety, and environmental performance measures to the ACC in February 2017. This information will be publicly available on the ACC website.
In 2016, we built upon our Safety Obsession value by creating safety principles that more deeply define the beliefs, behaviors, and actions we expect from our colleagues. We turned to a team of operators and mechanics from our manufacturing sites to help us craft our safety principles—words that guide our actions individually and as a company.
Chemours Safety Principles
Whether it is an annual safety kick-off, a weekly safety stand-up, plant-site meeting, a quarterly safety meeting at our Wilmington, Delaware headquarters, or an industrial hygiene and workplace safety audit at a laboratory, we are bound by and adhere to these safety principles.
Chemours’ 2016 employee safety rate is 0.59; the 2015 average ACC employee safety rate is 1.46, and the 2015 U.S. Chemical Manufacturing Rate is 1.90(1).
We know we can improve and are taking steps to do so. For example, hand safety incidents comprised 33% of our total employee injuries in 2016. In response, we gathered shop floor employees from sites across the company to identify actions to reverse this trend. We implemented the recommended actions and expect to see our hand safety performance, as well as our overall performance, improve in 2017. Our 2016 contractor-safety rate of 0.26 compares favorably to the average 2015 ACC contractor-safety rate of 1.28. That fact notwithstanding, in April 2016, a contractor operating heavy equipment at our Starke, Florida mine died in an incident involving the machinery the contractor was operating. We immediately commenced a full investigation and shared what we learned, in detail, throughout the company as an important preventative measure.
As with all regulated entities in the United States, data on our performance can be found at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (https://www.msha.gov/) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (https://www.osha.gov/).
Chemours recognizes that operating high-hazard processes is a big responsibility. To effectively manage our operations, we employ a rigorous process safety management model, which requires leadership commitment at its core. The 14 elements of our process safety management system appear in the graphic below.
In 2016, we transitioned from a legacy, internally focused safety metric to the American Chemistry Council’s process safety metrics. We transitioned to ACC metrics so that we could not only continue to understand our year-over-year safety performance in absolute terms, but to better assess our progress towards our goal of being best-in-class in our industry.
Our 2016 process safety event severity rate of 0.05 compares favorably to the average ACC 2015 process safety incident severity rate of 0.32. Our 2016 performance is based upon two Tier 1 incidents. In one, an operator at our Niagara, New York plant suffered a burn that resulted in a lost workday case. In another, at our Memphis, Tennessee site there was a loss of primary containment that exceeded reporting thresholds, resulting in two medical treatment cases. Affected employees have fully recovered. Following our rigorous protocols, we conducted thorough investigations, took immediate actions, and shared our learnings to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
In addition to following our own process safety standards, we regularly attend and speak at industry forums, where we learn from others and all share best practices—to one end: prevention. That is always our goal. A critical component of that prevention focus is the training and safety drills we conduct so that response to a safety incident is immediate and guided by what might be described as safety-muscle memory.
At Chemours, we believe in transparency, internally and externally; it builds trust and instills confidence. We hope you have found the information contained in this report to be helpful. As we look to 2017, we remain focused on continuous safety improvement and our commitment to every person working at Chemours anywhere in the world: your workplace will be safe…for you and for your community. At Chemours, it’s safety first, last, and always.
(1)Most recent data available from ACC and from U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics is 2015. Both reports contain information on U.S. incidents only. Rates are configured using a formula based on 100 employees working an average of 200,000 exposure hours per year.