Process Safety | Society | Sustainability | Asahi Kasei

Process Safety


Measures for process safety in the Asahi Kasei Group are performed in accordance with our Basic Policy for Safe Operation, which states, "We maintain the safety of employees and local communities through stable and safe operation while working to prevent workplace injuries." An ongoing and autonomous program to ensure process safety includes safety assessment and hazard identification in accordance with our Basic Policy, with specific plans implemented on both annual and multi-year cycles.
As set forth in the Asahi Kasei Group Responsible Care (RC) Principles, we give the utmost consideration to environmental protection, quality assurance, process safety, workplace safety and hygiene, and health maintenance, throughout the product life cycle from R&D to disposal, as preeminent management tasks in all operations. In addition to maintaining legal compliance, we set self-imposed targets for continuous improvement, while performing proactive information disclosure and communication to gain public understanding and trust.

  • Head Office←Auditing→Check Internal auditing safety management Rectification→Act Review by head of production site→Site-specific safety management policy→Plan Mid-term RC plan, Annual RC plan→Do Implementation and reporting→Environment/safety conferences, etc.←Head Office Basic safety management policy←Reflection←Specific requirements, Hazard identification

    Process safety management system

  • Head Office Safety management policy Asahi Kasei Group RC policy, Basic policy for safety management→Safety management targets and plan Asahi Kasei medium-term RC plan (targets)→Application and implementation Rollout of safety management activity→Investigation and evaluation Daily or periodic investigation and evaluation of state of application of safety management activities→Audit Audit, (Audit by Executive Officer for RC), (High-pressure gas audit)→Review RC Committee, Works Safety management policy→Safety management targets Safety management plan→Workplace, Safety management targets, Safety management plan→Rollout of safety management activity→Daily or periodic investigation and evaluation of state of application of safety management activities→Internal safety management audit, RC Audit by head of Works→Review by head of Works

    PDCA cycle for safety management

Safety management for high pressure gas

At the Mizushima Works and Kawasaki Works, we have received certification for self-inspection for high-pressure gas safety from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Accordingly, we perform our own "certified safety" and "conformity inspections" for equipment as part of the ongoing effort to maintain stable and safe operation. Specifically, we ensure the safety of the applicable facilities with the following roles in accordance with the High Pressure Gas Certified Safety and Conformity Inspections Implementation and Management Regulations.

High Pressure Gas Safety Controller Asahi Kasei Corp. President
High Pressure Gas Process Safety Division General Manager Asahi Kasei Corp. Executive Officer for RC (Director)
High Pressure Gas Process Safety Management Department General Manager Asahi Kasei Corp. Corporate ESH Senior General Manager

We held the High Pressure Gas Process Safety Measures Promotion Conference, chaired by the General Manager of the High Pressure Gas Process Safety Department, four times (July and October 2019 and January and April 2020) with the relevant parties from head office and the two Works in an effort to exchange information in a timely manner and develop a PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle. The High Pressure Gas Process Safety Measures Meeting, chaired by the General Manager of the High Pressure Gas Process Safety Division, was held once (July 2019) to check on the status of process safety at the two works. In addition, as in previous years, field patrols by the High Pressure Gas Process Safety Division General Manager were also carried out (September 2019 in Kawasaki and October 2019 in Mizushima).
Furthermore, at the time of its next recertification review in 2021, the Mizushima Works has decided to apply for the super certification program (designated certified business), which requires an even higher level of high pressure gas process safety management. A preparatory project was launched in fiscal 2018 to continue studies and discuss how to address key issues for the application. The official kick-off will be in fiscal 2020, and the Head Office and the Works will continue working in collaboration to acquire super certification and enhance the management of high pressure gas process safety.

Basic Policy for High Pressure Gas Safety

  • Safety is an important fundamental of management, and all of our business activities depend on safety.
  • Each one of our employees is responsible for safety, and safety is ensured by all employees together.
  • We apply a PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle to continuously improve the level of safety.
  • Measures to assess risks, and to eliminate and mitigate them, are persistent and ongoing.

Process safety management

The following safety-related accidents occurred in fiscal 2019, including Group subsidiaries and affiliates in Japan and abroad.

[Number of safety-related accidents in fiscal 2019]

  • Number of serious industrial accidents: 0(accident intensity of 18 points or more)
  • Number of industrial accidents: 2(accident intensity of 3 points or more but less than 18 points)
  • Number of minor industrial accidents: 22(accident intensity of less than 3 points)
    *Classification by accident intensity is based on the standards of the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association (CCPS).

In fiscal 2019, although we were able to keep the number of serious industrial accidents at zero, two industrial accidents occurred.
These two accidents were a gas leak (Nobeoka) and tank damage (Kawasaki), and we are taking individual corrective measures to prevent recurrence. While there were also 22 minor industrial accidents involving small flames/smoking and small leaks of hazardous materials on the premises, we were able to prevent the spread of damage by taking appropriate primary measures at the site. We will continue to strengthen our efforts to reduce the number of industrial accidents.

Activities to pass on operational safety technology

To achieve safe operations, it is essential to perform sound plant maintenance, and to operate facilities in a safe and stable manner. The Asahi Kasei Group avoids operational accidents through risk assessments prior to the construction of new plants, periodic inspections of existing plants performed by auditors specialized in fire and explosion prevention, facility and process reviews from the perspective of preventing abnormal reactions and ensuring interlock functions, and process reviews corresponding to the age of facilities.
Maintaining the activities to transmit process safety and disaster prevention techniques commenced in fiscal 2013, we identify hazards at each plant and specify the risks. When doing this, we examine risks that include abnormal reactions, suspension of services, and contamination assuming the worst-case scenario (hazard) for when safety equipment, such as interlocks, fails to function., and study the effectiveness of polymerization inhibitors and other measures to deal with abnormalities.

Details of initiatives under activities to pass on process safety technology

  • (1)Identification of hazard sources
  • (2)Passing on through technology communication materials (summaries)
  • (3)Analysis of factors leading to high level hazards (equipment damage, fire and explosion) and checking on appropriateness of countermeasures
  • (4)Training of operators with ability to apply knowledge to work through troubleshooting drills

In addition, we conduct regular visits and expert third-party verification by Corporate ESH at each plant with extensive discussions aimed at confirming and increasing progress on the content of the reviews.

Safety review system for investment plans

We perform process hazard assessment before plant construction to ensure a high level of safety, not only when establishing new plants or expanding plants but also when modifying or dismantling plants. Internal regulations require a pre-investment inspection to verify plant safety when there are plans to invest in a new plant or plant modification, etc. of a certain scale or larger. Inspection and approval prior to trial operation provides an additional confirmation of plant safety before actual operation begins. The inspection system is applied not only in Japan, but also outside of Japan.
Safety assessment is performed as part of the pre-investment inspection. Ranks are assigned based on the degree of hazard, with methods such as HAZOP* utilized in the risk assessment of high risk facilities.

  • * Abbreviation of "hazard and operability study," a method of identifying and dealing with potential problems in industrial processes by assuming deviations from design intentions. This highly exhaustive method is widely utilized throughout the process industries.

Core operating company plans new construction or plant expansion→Core operating company prepares environment/safety management plan (including examination and approval by General Managers for RC at core operating company and operating site) →Final examination and approval by Executive for RC and Senior General Manager of Corporate ESH & QA→Groundbreaking→Inspection and approval prior to trail operation→OperationSystem for inspection prior to capital investment

Measures for safe and stable operation

Given our diverse range of operations that include the Material, Homes, and Health Care business sectors, the Asahi Kasei Group has plants with a wide variety of different characteristics. No single approach to safety would be appropriate for all plants.
We employ a systematic process to tailor the safety effort to each plant's specific requirements, including the use of the PDCA cycle. One characteristic of this process is the formulation of separate maintenance standards for each individual unit of equipment to ensure the appropriateness of the method and period of maintenance.
In addition, measures that span across the Asahi Kasei Group include a Maintenance Personnel Committee and group-wide plant engineering council with 4 specialist panels: Formulation of optimum systematic maintenance programs, establishment of standards and criteria, formulation of training systems for maintenance engineers, and sharing engineering information. We will ensure safe and stable production at our plants through these maintenance activities.

Training for maintenance

We believe that maintenance means creating the condition of equipment necessary to accomplish production objectives. Although we use a PDCA cycle for the planned maintenance system, people are the most fundamental element. It is vital for each individual to gain the essential technical knowledge and contribute to the strength of the team.
The Group’s maintenance technicians should have the ability to carry out planned maintenance, to predict hazards, and to make improvements rather being purely repair personnel who repetitively restore equipment to its original state. To develop such maintenance technicians, we clarified the training principles for maintenance technicians, formulated a training curriculum for each individual based on these principles from fiscal 2009, and applied the PDCA cycle for education and training based on the curriculum for all maintenance technicians.

Training for process safety

At our petrochemical sites in Mizushima and Kawasaki, the Asahi Operation Academy (AOA) serves as the training center to cultivate the skills necessary to operate petrochemical plants. AOA teaches the principles and structures of equipment, heightening the ability to identify the cause of equipment failure and to respond appropriately. Miniature plants and simulators are used at AOA to provide hands-on experience with controls and instrumentation. Operators thereby gain the technical skills and practical understanding of chemical engineering necessary for safe and reliable plant operation, with the ability to respond appropriately in the event of any abnormality.
We carry out safety training exercises in which employees are given simulated experience of workplace dangers including being caught in/between machinery, contacting hazardous liquids, tripping and falling on the same level, suffering a burn, falling from height, etc.
In conjunction, we provide education on human behavioral characteristics and accident case studies in order to instill greater sensitivity for safety among employees and obtain strict compliance to safety rules to avoid dangers.
From fiscal 2019, we began incorporating VR experiences into our basic engineering education and safety training curriculum, and we are working to enhance training to improve risk sensitivity in equipment handling and operation.

  • Simulated experience of being caught in a rotary valve (Kawasaki Works)

  • Simulated experience of being caught in a belt (Kawasaki Works)

Regularly conducted training Basic technology courses (machinery, instruments, electricity, and chemical engineering)
Safety experience courses (being caught in/between machinery, contacting hazardous liquids, suffering a burn, stumbling, tumbling or falling, getting scalded, etc.)
Job level-based courses (problem-solving training, etc.)
Training target Manufacturing operators and facility management personnel
Number of participants (total number of participants as of fiscal 2019) Basic technology courses: 1,668
Safety experience courses: 1,465
Job level-based courses: 584

Emergency response

A comprehensive set of internal regulations guides the proper response to any industrial accidents or natural disasters which may occur.
The smooth operation of the emergency response system ensures that personal safety is secured, that effects of the situation are prevented from spreading to surrounding areas, and that damage is held to a minimum, through close communication between the plants, regional management, and the head office. The plants prepare annual plans for periodic training drills, and perform drills in coordination with the head office.

  • Fire extinguisher training (Mizushima Works)
    March 2020

  • Comprehensive disaster training (Mizushima Works)
    October 2019

Transportation and Distribution Safety

To prevent accidents in physical distribution, Asahi Kasei works closely with logistics providers contracted for storage, loading, unloading, and transportation to implement safety activities, which include logistics safety symposiums, safety liaison conferences, safety inspection, training, and many other safety measures. Specifically, in addition to annual logistics safety symposiums, which brings together all logistics providers to raise safety awareness with the participation of top management of Asahi Kasei, we also hold safety meetings to share information on accidents and other incidents in different transportation modes.

[Fiscal 2019 logistics safety symposiums and safety meetings by transportation mode]

  • Logistics safety symposiums: 47 companies, 114 participants
  • Land transport safety meetings: 17 companies, 37 participants
  • Marine transport safety meetings: 13 companies, 26 participants
  • Product safety meetings: 10 companies, 35 participants

Furthermore, individual production sites hold joint training drills together with logistics providers to prepare for accidents that may occur and to ensure that damage from such accidents is minimized.
In January 2017, we signed an agreement with the Maritime Disaster Prevention Center and introduced HAZMATers (Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Service) to further strengthen the response capability in the case of an emergency. The engagement of HAZMATers makes a highly specialized emergency response available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring swift action to prevent the spread of damage if an accident occurs.

HAZMAT emergency dispatch vehicle (example)

[Number of logistics accidents in fiscal 2019]

Target Results
Serious logistics accidents 0 cases 0 cases
Logistics accidents 0 cases 1 case

(Excluding some affiliates such as Asahi Kasei Homes)

There was one logistics accident in fiscal 2019. This accident occurred when a tanker crew member was removing a hose after unloading product to a customer's facility, and a small amount of liquid left in the hose got on his body. We have taken corrective measures and are working to prevent recurrence.

  • [Definition of an accident]
    • *Serious logistics accident : (1) One or more dead or seriously injured / (2) 100 million yen or more in damages / (3) Significant social impact (resident evacuation notice, etc.)
    • *Logistics accident : (1) Personal injury (other than a serious logistics accident) / (2) Public response (firefighting, leak prevention, etc.) / (3) Explosion, spread of fire, poisoning, or risk of such accidents / (4) 5 million yen or more in damages