Safety & Health 2020
Safety & Health
Safety and health
Safety – both for us and for our customers – when handling our gases, safety in the workplace, be it on the shop floor or in the office, and plant safety, as well as safe logistics and vehicles – all these elements are of fundamental importance to our customers, partners and employees. This is clearly reflected in our materiality matrix. Health and safety at work are firmly established in our company as well as our industry as a fundamental element. In our mission statement, our internal guidelines and our organizational approach, safety is a central feature for all business units, enabling our employees to implement individual measures aimed at continuous improvement.
Our handling of the coronavirus pandemic
The general managers of each subsidiary along with the SHEQ and HSEQ officers at Messer Group and Messer Americas make sure that appropriate emergency and crisis plans are in place. These plans establish an organizational and communications structure that can deliver a rapid, decisive and coordinated response to all kinds of emergencies and crises. In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, that means convening pandemic teams in accordance with the existing pandemic plans: teams that, partly in consultation with public health authorities, provide protection and therefore safety for the employees. The measures taken have been very successful so far: a low infection rate across a worldwide workforce of about 10,800 people speaks for effective coordination – and outstanding discipline on the part of the employees.
UN Goals Safety & Health
Safety of our customers
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of regularly disinfecting hands and surfaces and complying with hygiene measures. In 2020, Messer worked with Heraeus Noblelight to develop a mobile UV-C disinfection system for decontaminating surfaces and shapes of all kinds. To make it as versatile as possible to use, the system is designed as a hand-held device. The system from Heraeus’ Soluva product range can be used to sterilize not only production machinery and vehicles, but also public buildings and offices, as well as numerous fabrics, motor vehicle interiors, and control panels, along with many other surfaces.
Messer itself is relying on the mobile UV-C disinfection system throughout Europe to disinfect gas cylinders for medical oxygen when hospitals or patients return them for refilling. Disinfection with UV-C light offers many advantages over the chemical approach: it considerably reduces the amount of effort required; it minimizes risks for operators, consumers and the environment; and it lowers the risk of material damage to pressure tanks and their accessories.
Safety of our logistics and vehicles
The road transport of gases carries many risks. For that reason, the Messer Group signed the Road Safety Charter and has committed itself to placing special focus on transportation safety. In addition to the statutory regulations governing the operation of a fleet of vehicles, Messer’s own transportation safety concept has proven effective.
Logistics develops safety measures at the national and international level and logistics and safety personnel continuously exchange information about their experience relative to improving our safety performance.
For the most part, Messer employs external carriers to transport our gases. Legally required driver training courses fall under the responsibility of the carriers and are supplemented with a driver training program developed by Messer Corporate Logistics.
An on-board computer system installed in the trucks since 2019 records safety-related driving data that contribute to specifically targeted instruction. The system evaluates the vehicle’s driving data and the system’s own sensors, displaying warnings when necessary to encourage more defensive driving while out on the road. That makes transport operations safer and – through lower fuel consumption – also more eco-friendly.
At Messer, the number of preventable accidents worldwide during the transport of our cylinder gases in 2020 was 64 – that means 3.05 accidents per million kilometers driven (4.91 accidents/million miles driven). The number of preventable accidents during the transport of liquefied gases was 194; accordingly, the frequency rate per million kilometers driven during the same period was 0.89 (1.43 accidents/million miles driven).
This relatively high number is attributable to the fact that some of Messer’s statistics also include reported near misses, which constitute a non-negligible share of the incidents. Part of Messer’s safety strategy involves learning not only from accidents, but also from unsafe behavior. Logistics encourages the proactive reporting of these near misses.
Appropriate supplier management and the previously mentioned driver training courses – including ones supported by the new on-board computing system – will help to reduce the number of incidents further. In addition, all drivers receive a driver’s manual specific to their work (bulk, cylinders or service vehicles). This ensures that all important information relating to their job is readily accessible.