Note 9: Safety

AkzoNobel strives to deliver leading performance in health, safety, environment and security (HSE&S) with a vision to deliver zero injuries, waste and harm through operational excellence.

The strategic priorities set by the Executive Committee for 2017-2020 are to drive:

  • Continuous improvement of HSE&S processes to achieve leading maturity levels
  • The implementation of the HSE&S management systems to achieve zero losses of primary containment and zero
  • A commitment-based HSE&S culture and embed operational excellence to achieve our vision of zero injuries, waste and harm

During 2017, AkzoNobel made progress in delivering on each of these priorities, once again reducing the number of injuries suffered by employees and contractors, and ranking best-in-class for health and safety in the Chemicals industry on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2017, AkzoNobel received the Responsible Care® Award from the Association of International Chemical Manufacturers in China.

People safety

The number of reportable injuries reduced by 27% compared with 2016, while the injury rate is now at the target level set for 2020 (0.20). Lost time injuries and contractor injuries also continued to reduce.

Employee total reportable injuries

injury rate

Safety – Employee total reportable injuries (bar chart)

The total reportable rate (TRR) is the number of injuries, including fatalities, resulting in a lost time case, restricted work or requiring medical treatment by a competent medical practitioner per 200,000 hours worked. In line with OSHA guidelines, temporary workers are reported with employees, since day-to-day management is by AkzoNobel. Contractors are managed by their own companies.

In total, 77% of our locations have been reportable injury-free for more than a year. The overall downward trend in reportable injuries is in line with the increased maturity level in the implementation of our company safety programs, including the Life-Saving Rules, the continued implementation of the AkzoNobel HSE&S Common Platform programs and the drive for a commitment-based safety culture.

Employee lost time injuries

injury rate

Safety – Employee lost time injuries (bar chart)

The lost time injury rate (LTlR) is the number of injuries resulting in a lost time case per 200,000 hours worked. Temporary workers are reported together with employees since day-to-day management is by AkzoNobel.

Focus on contractor safety was further increased in 2017. The safety of both employees and contractors was improved by the introduction of standardized practices for safe working throughout the company, as well as standardized contractor management and evaluation procedures. The downward overall trend in TRR extended to the TRR for contractors, which also decreased 39%. The lost time injury rate was down 36%. There was one contractor fatality during the year at a construction project in India, caused by a fall from height. Prior to 2017, there had been no employee or contractor fatalities for five years.

Contractors total reportable injuries

injury rate

Safety – Contractors total reportable injuries (bar chart)

The contractor total reportable rate (TRR) is the number of contractor injuries, including fatalities, resulting in a lost time case, restricted work or requiring medical treatment by a competent medical practitioner per 200,000 hours worked.

Contractors lost time injuries

injury rate

Safety – Contractors lost time injuries (bar chart)

The contractor lost time injury rate (LTlR) is the number of contractor injuries resulting in a lost time case per 200,000 hours worked.

A maturity self-assessment has been designed and implemented in order to drive continuous improvement in behavior-based safety at all manufacturing sites.

Process safety

AkzoNobel has developed a process safety management (PSM) framework for all operations, following industry standards and best practices.

Implementation of the framework at site level is phased according to inherent risk. During 2017, a self-assessment tool and independent validation process was developed and rolled out for the first 43 sites. The next 75 sites completed implementation of their improvement plans according to schedule and will be validated in 2018. The remaining sites are on track to complete implementation of their PSM plans by the end of 2018.

Process safety performance indicators are aligned with international best practice. A (LoPC) is the main process safety indicator at manufacturing sites, with two levels of severity. As a leading indicator, we also measure process safety events (PSEs), which are minor leaks or occurrences that could lead to more severe LoPCs.

Process safety pyramid

Safety – Process safety pyramid (graphic)
Process safety events




Loss of primary containment Level 1



Loss of primary containment Level 2



Process safety event Level 3



In 2017, we raised awareness and improved reporting of the process safety indicators. The total number of LoPC 1 and 2 reduced by 7% in 2017, compared with 2016. The number of LoPCs classified as Level 1 (highest severity) in 2017 was 21. The increase is partly a result of the improved reporting. Overall Level 1 and Level 2 LoPCs were below 2016. The number of PSE Level 3 (minor spills and leaks, which are readily controlled on site and have no regulatory notification requirement) has increased, illustrating the desire to report, investigate and learn from these process safety near misses, which creates more opportunity for learning and prevention.

Product stewardship

During 2017, all businesses used the AkzoNobel Product Stewardship Continuous Improvements Tool (PSCIT) to assess the level of maturity in the eight key elements of product stewardship, following the principles of Responsible Care® and Coatings Care®. The maturity assessments showed an overall increase in level from 6.5 in 2016 to 7.6 in 2017, indicating a continuous improvement over the year.

Priority substance management

In 2017, we continued with our proactive approach to the review and management of hazardous substances in our products and processes through our priority substance process. When the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed the first ten chemicals to be fully risk assessed under the 2016 update of the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), AkzoNobel had already evaluated nine of the ten substances and taken action to prohibit or control their use. We received recognition for our approach this year when the US EPA named AkzoNobel’s Surface Chemistry business as 2017 Safer Choice Partner of the Year in the Innovators category.

In 2017, we identified, reviewed and prioritized issues for advocacy, including endocrine disrupting substances, nanomaterials, respiratory and skin sensitizers (substances causing an allergic reaction), scientifically appropriate classification for TiO2, and volatile organic compounds in China. Meanwhile, Chemical Watch’s Business Guide to Safer Chemicals (third edition), featured AkzoNobel’s Priority Substance Program in an entry entitled “Program drives safer products”.


As well as ensuring a safe working environment, healthy working conditions and managing illness-related absenteeism, AkzoNobel also fosters employee health and well-being as part of the company health strategy and occupational health program. Examples include industrial hygiene programs at site level and the promotion and use of our health risk appraisal tool, the Wellness Checkpoint. The online Wellness Checkpoint questionnaire is used by an increasing number of employees and their families. By the end of 2017, more than 18,200 people had joined the program since its launch in 2008. During 2017, a further 5% of employees joined.

Employee health






Occupational illness frequency rate (OIFR) is the total number of reportable occupational illness cases for the reporting period per 1,000,000 hours worked. This parameter is reportable for employees and supervised contractors.

Occupational illness rate





Wellness Checkpoint use






Security at AkzoNobel is focused on securing people, information, assets and critical business processes against willful security risks on-site and while traveling. The level of standardization of procedures, processes and training for personnel dealing with security at all of our facilities will continue to increase.

A central security committee with functional representatives coordinates the main pillars of security: personnel security, facilities, Information Management (IM) security, travel security and intellectual property. The readiness of our security processes is assured via internal assessments, internal audits, and security drills. In 2017, the definitions of security incidents were improved and communicated throughout the organization. In 2017, 69 security incidents were reported globally, which is the same frequency as 2016. Theft and vandalism represent the highest remaining event sub-types (similar to normal society).

HSE&S management

AkzoNobel has a leading HSE&S management system driving continuous improvement through operational excellence in all aspects of HSE&S management, including procedures, training, self-assessments, annual improvement planning and independent internal audit, as well as promoting learning across the organziation. Our common processes require each site and business unit to develop their own safety improvement plan annually. Sites that are lagging in performance receive additional support from the central HSE&S organization.

Regulatory action

We have defined four categories of regulatory action, from self-reported issues (Level 1) to formal legal notifications with fines above €100,000 (Level 4).

Loss of primary containment

A loss of primary containment is an unplanned release of material, product, raw material or energy to the environment (including those resulting from human error). Loss of primary containment incidents are divided into three categories, dependent on severity, from small, on-site spill/near misses up to Level 1 – a significant escape.