Note 6: Health and safety

At AkzoNobel, we strive to achieve leading performance in health, safety, environment and security (). Our vision is to deliver zero injuries and harm through operational excellence.

Our strategic HSE&S priorities are aligned with the company’s Winning together: 15 by 20 ambition and are focused on driving:

  • Continuous improvement of HSE&S processes to achieve leading maturity levels
  • The implementation of an integrated HSE&S management system to drive continuous improvement and maintain best-in-class performance
  • A commitment-based culture and embedding operational excellence to achieve our vision of zero injuries and harm

People safety

In 2019, the total reportable rate () was 0.24, an increase compared with 2018 (0.20). This is slightly above the target level set for 2020 (0.20). In total, 65% of our manufacturing locations have been reportable injury-free for more than a year.

The most frequent causes for reportable injuries remain “struck by/against” or “caught in between” objects, and “slips, trips and falls”. The most frequent injuries sustained are cuts/lacerations, fractures and strains/sprains.

Although the TRR was up in 2019, the severity of injuries has decreased. The for employees was 0.08 (2018: 0.09).

Some of the most severe incidents, including a fatality, were related to off-site motorcycle incidents that occurred in India. This prompted us to create a region-wide motorcycle safety program. It aims to reduce the use of motorcycles for company business and ensure that relevant safety measures, including training, are in place.

Investing in visible safety leadership and employee involvement initiatives is critical to strengthen our safety culture and deliver continuous improvement in safety performance.

Additional measures are also being introduced. These include the implementation of Life Critical Procedures, forklift safety and machine safety “calls to action” (including cross-site validation audits). The continued embedding of injury and illness case management should also help to further prevent injuries or reduce their severity. The objective of the latter is to proactively manage injury cases at an early stage, contribute to reducing the impact for the injured employee, promote return to work programs and, as a result, further reduce the lost time injury rate.

Total reportable injury rate employees/temporary workers

Health and safety – Total reportable injury rate employees/temporary workers (bar chart)

The total reportable injury rate (TRR) is the number of injuries resulting in a medical treatment case, restricted work case, lost time case or fatality, per 200,000 hours worked. In line with OSHA guidelines, temporary workers are reported with employees, since day-to-day management is by AkzoNobel.

Lost time injury rate employees/temporary workers

Health and safety – Lost time injury rate employees/temporary workers (bar chart)

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

The number of contractor reportable injuries increased slightly compared with 2018, leading to a reportable injury rate of 0.19 (2018: 0.18). The contractors lost time injury rate also went up from 0.07 in 2018 to 0.09 in 2019.

Analysis revealed that inadequate/poor adherence to procedures were the main cause of contractor incidents. To help counter this trend, a contractor safety procedure and self-assessment process were introduced to target the quality of (and adherence to) key procedures, with benefits for our own employees, as well as contractors.

Total reportable rate contractors

injury rate

Health and safety – Total reportable rate contractors (bar chart)

The contractors total reportable rate (TRR) is the number of contractor injuries resulting in medical treatment cases, restricted work cases, lost time injuries or fatalities, per 200,000 hours worked.

Lost time injuries contractors

injury rate

Health and safety – Lost time injuries contractors (bar chart)

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

Process safety

We have developed and implemented a process safety management (PSM) framework for all our operations, which follows industry standards and best practices. A new management of change (MOC) procedure has also been introduced globally. This process has now been digitized to allow an efficient, comprehensive approach.

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

Process safety events (PSE) pyramid

Health and safety – Process safety events (PSE) pyramid (graphic)
Process safety events




Loss of primary containment – Level 1



Loss of primary containment – Level 2



Process safety event – Level 3



Following the sale of our Specialty Chemicals business, resin manufacturing represents the highest remaining PSM risk in the company. To ensure these risks are properly managed and mitigated to acceptable levels across the company, a special project has been launched. It’s designed to review the reliability and integrity of all safety layers of protection and develop standards for minimum layers of protection, in particular for all our resin plants.

In 2019, the number of LoPC Level 1 incidents (highest severity) decreased to 3 (2018: 6). Reporting discipline for PSE Level 3 incidents (minor spills and leaks, which are readily controlled on site and have no regulatory notification requirement) remained at a high level, clearly illustrating the drive for improvement at our manufacturing sites. All incidents are investigated to increase our focus on learning and continuous improvement.

Product stewardship

Product stewardship is our approach to ensuring that product safety and sustainability are considered throughout the value chain – from raw material extraction, , manufacturing, transport, marketing and application, all the way through to end-of-life. We aim to deliver value to AkzoNobel and our customers by ensuring regulatory compliance in every region where we operate. We’re also committed to continually developing safer and more sustainable solutions for the market while staying ahead of legislation through our proactive approach.

Our Powder Coatings business extended its range of Interpon Low-E products during 2019 (photo)

A research project which aims to harness the wasted solar energy absorbed by buildings was launched in 2019 by a consortium of 13 partners – including AkzoNobel. The ENVISION initiative is attempting to harvest energy from all building surfaces, both transparent and opaque. A solution for absorbing near-infrared light (NIR) via special panels already exists, but these panels are only available in one color – black. So our coatings experts are developing technology which can capture heat using lighter and brighter colors.

Continuous improvement

We use our Product Stewardship Continuous Improvement Tool (PSCIT) to drive continuous improvement in product stewardship through collaboration at all levels. After realigning the PSCIT to better meet the needs of a focused paints and coatings organization, a new benchmark was introduced. It measures the maturity of how product stewardship has been incorporated into each of our businesses, and within AkzoNobel as a whole. As expected, the results show that most businesses and departments are continuously improving on the key areas.

Priority substance management

Our industry-leading and multiple award-winning priority substance program is a proactive approach to the review and management of hazardous substances in our products and processes. The program continues to review substances as the regulatory status of substances change, while processes are in place to prevent the introduction of hazardous substances in our businesses. A further five substances were (re)assessed in 2019, and the program has been embedded into a new Sustainable Product Portfolio Assessment process (See Note 1).


At AkzoNobel, we’re committed to providing a safe working environment and healthy work conditions for all our employees. Health and well-being are part of our occupational health strategy and we actively manage illness-related absenteeism. A new, company-wide Industrial Hygiene (IH) framework was established in 2018. Based on this framework, we launched an IH baseline survey during the first quarter of 2019 at 144 locations. It aims to inventorize the current status of IH program implementation at our workplaces. The established baseline will be the basis for further improvement.

We continue to build the IH competencies of our HSE&S professionals at local and regional level through online training courses. In 2019, online training on chemical exposure assessments and ergonomic assessments were developed and delivered.

Employee health

occupational illness rate

Health and safety – Employee health (bar chart)

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 temporary workers.


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 employees dealing with security at all our facilities will continue to increase.

A central security committee with functional representatives coordinates the main pillars of security: personnel security, facilities, information management security, travel security and intellectual property. The readiness of our security processes is assured via internal assessments, internal audits and security drills. In 2019, 184 security incidents were reported globally, broadly in line with 2018 (177). Theft and vandalism at our stores represented the highest event sub-type (similar to normal society). Based on the incident trends and security assessment analysis, the top three security priorities to be resolved are: lone working arrangements; use of CCTV; and training on how to deal with aggressive members of the public.

The ENVISION initiative is attempting to harvest energy from all building surfaces, both transparent and opaque (photo)

Our Powder Coatings business extended its range of Interpon Low-E products during 2019. Having first introduced a selection of coarse texture products in 2018, a complete range of smooth finishes in Interpon 610 was added to the Low-E portfolio. Specially engineered for curing at temperatures lower than the current standard of 180-190°C, the new offering can save energy and help customers to improve their efficiency.

HSE&S management

Our leading HSE&S management system drives continuous improvement through operational excellence in all aspects of HSE&S management. This includes procedures, regular performance reviews, training, self-assessments, annual improvement planning, independent internal audit and root cause analyses of incidents. It also incorporates promoting learning across the organization, including best practice sharing. 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 though a road map process.

During 2019, our state-of-the-art digitized platform for supporting core HSE&S processes (known as the HSE&S suite), was further developed and embedded. Our corporate HSE&S management system was also globally certified to ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards.

The indicators that fall within the scope of limited assurance of our external auditor are marked with this symbol


Health, safety, environment and security.


Health, safety, environment and security.

Total reportable rate of injuries (TRR)

The number of injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Full definitions are in the Sustainability statements.

Lost time injury rate (LTIR)

The number of lost time injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Full definitions are in the Sustainability statements section.

Lost time injury rate (LTIR)

The number of lost time injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Full definitions are in the Sustainability statements section.

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.


Research & Development.