05 April 2017

Marco Maccio article picMarco Macciò, Infineum Corporate HSSE Manager, talks to Marco Patucchi of the daily Italian newspaper “La Repubblica and explains how injury prevention is achieved by investing in Safety and avoiding instinctive reactions.

Last month, Marco Macciò was approached by journalist Marco Patucchi of the daily Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” to talk about a strong safety record in the Italian chemical industry looking at the additives industry as a good example. The interview was arranged by Federchimica (Italian Chemical Industry Association) Communication department who were keen for Infineum to share some best practice from our industry.

How has Infineum Italia achieved such excellent safety results?

Marco said:

“With the Unions’ cooperation, Infineum Italia has achieved excellent results in preventing injuries. In an emergency, we need to prevent first instinctive reactions. Think first, then take action. We have seen several cases(1) where incorrect behaviour driven by complacency has led to accidents in rail tankers and in the holds of ships.”
“Our finished products, such as additives, are not hazardous chemicals, unlike some of the raw materials we use in their production process. These may be corrosive, toxic or flammable substances. We also have to manage the potential risks for contractors, linked with the construction and maintenance of the plant: when moving equipment, suspended loads or working from heights ... in both cases we achieved excellent results. The last serious injury specific to site production activities occurred more than 30 years ago.”

You talk about workers instinctive reactions, but safety in the workplace cannot be just a matter of workers’ behaviour. Major events as experienced in Thyssen(2) confirm it. What does management have to do to ensure a manufacturing plant is safe?

“Adopt and rigorously follow an integrated Health-Safety-Environment (HSE) management system. Exxon introduced their Operational Integrated Management System during the 1980’s. A HSE management system is also the heart of Responsible Care® – the Industry’s global volunteer program where companies commit to excellence in HSE values and behaviour. In Italy, 165 companies associated to Federchimica adopt Responsible Care® with remarkable results. Nowadays the Italian Chemical Industry boasts a ratio between reportable injuries and working hours, 35% better than the country manufacturing industry average. The Total recordable Injury Rate (TRIR)(3) moved from 13.6 in 2010 to 9.2 in 2015. Similar results have been achieved by contractors working in the Chemical Industry.”

We all understand numbers, but what actions do they imply?

“It means investing in facilities, equipment, a culture of prevention and continuous training. Designing and maintaining state of the art equipment in accordance with best practice. Setting up adequate management and control procedures while focusing on complete and concise information by avoiding lengthy manuals - and making them easily available for all workers. Finally, investing in training to increase awareness and drive the correct behaviour when facing an emergency. In summary: think first, then take action.”

I can imagine that these results have been achieved with the collaboration of workers and their representatives…

“Trade Unions, as well as regulators, played a key role. In the Safety area, constructive relationships with Unions produced valuable results, particularly for the Italian Chemical Industry. It is no coincidence that for many years Federchimica and the Unions sign the national collective labour agreement, which does contain several references to HSE in the workplace, in advance of its expiration date, without strikes. It’s not by chance that the first Italian industry sector pension and health funds were adopted by the Chemical Industry.”

The interview in Italian can be read here.

Notes:
(1) Reference made to press reports of serious events where non protected rescuers died with the first person injured.
(2) Reference made to the fire occurred in Thyssen plant in Turin December 2007 that claimed the life of several shift workers.
(3) TRIR calculated per million worked hours, own colleagues only; injuries reported according with Italian national standards (INAIL code).

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