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 for Safe Operation, with specific plans implemented on both annual and multi-year cycles.
Also, as of July 11, 2022, the “Asahi Kasei Group ESH & QA Policy” has been revised into the “Asahi Kasei Group ESH & QA and Health & Productivity Management Policy.”
Based on our Group philosophy of contributing to life and living for people around the world, we give the utmost consideration to health, process safety, occupational health and safety, quality assurance, and environmental protection throughout the product life cycle, in all of our business activities from R&D to disposal, as preeminent management tasks.
Specifically, we prioritize stable and safe operation while preventing workplace accidents and securing the safety of personnel and members of the community. 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.
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, and we ensure the safety of the applicable facilities.
|High Pressure Gas Safety Controller||Asahi Kasei Corp. President|
|High Pressure Gas Process Safety Division General Manager||Asahi Kasei Corp. 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 2021 and January and April 2022) 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 2021) to check on the status of process safety at the two works. In addition, the annual on-site patrol by the High Pressure Gas Process Safety Division General Manager was conducted in December 2021 at the Kawasaki Works. Both Works recognize that continuing operations is a top priority and are taking thorough measures to prevent COVID-19 infections and secure the availability of personnel to ensure that operations do not have to be suspended due to an increase in infections.
In addition, when its high-pressure gas safety certification was renewed in September 2021, Mizushima Works applied for super certification (Specified Certified Operator), which necessitates a higher level of high-pressure gas safety management. We continued our considerations through the preparatory project we launched in fiscal 2018, and we have discussed how to address the main issues as we look to apply. The official kick-off was in fiscal 2020, and the Head Office and the Works successfully acquired super certification as a result of their collaboration.
Meanwhile, the Kawasaki Works applied for an ordinary certification renewal audit to take place in August 2022 and is currently under review. Along with other sites that have not yet acquired the certification for self-inspection, we will strive for more advanced high-pressure gas safety management.
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 2021, including Group subsidiaries and affiliates in Japan and overseas.
[Number of safety-related accidents in fiscal 2021]
- Number of serious industrial accidents: 1 (accident intensity of 18 points or more, or accident resulting in death)
- Number of industrial accidents: 0 (accident intensity of 3 points or more but less than 18 points)
- Number of minor industrial accidents: 21 (accident intensity of less than 3 points)
Note: Classification by accident intensity is based on the standards of the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association (CCPS).
In fiscal 2021, as described below, a serious safety accident occurred that resulted in the death of a Production Department operator.
March 1, 2022 Explosion (1 fatality) during production activities at the Kayaku Japan Co., Ltd. Tohmi Plant
Kayaku Japan Co., Ltd. is a 50-50 joint venture between Nippon Kayaku Co., Ltd. and Asahi Kasei Corp. The explosion occurred at 1:51 p.m. on March 1 in the No. 1 cleaning room at Kayaku Japan’s Tohmi Plant. On the morning of the accident (before work), there was a total of 2,810 kg of explosives in three storage tanks, and three people were working to dispense diethylene glycol dinitrate from the No. 3 storage tank to the next process. Two people were transferring the diethylene glycol dinitrate in two aluminum containers on a transport vehicle, and one person was staying behind to do the work, when the explosion occurred. Unfortunately, the individual who went missing after the accident was declared dead by the Nobeoka Police Station on March 15.
With regard to injuries, a total of five people were injured, three outside the plant and two inside the plant, though the injuries were minor. In terms of physical damage, windows, glass, doors, storm shutters, etc. were damaged at residences outside the plant, causing a great deal of inconvenience. Kayaku Japan and Asahi Kasei’s Nobeoka Office are responding to local residents with sincerity. Our adjacent plants were damaged as well, but production has resumed, with the exception of Kayaku Japan.
Kayak Japan has established an accident investigation committee that includes the participation of academic experts and other third parties to analyze the causes of the accident. Also, at this time, the fire department, police, and relevant government agencies are conducting investigations. As soon as these results are made public, the Group will take all necessary measures to prevent a recurrence.
While there were no security incidents, 21 minor security incidents involving small fires, scorching, and the leakage of small amounts of hazardous materials and other substances on the premises occurred. Precise primary measures at the site prevented the damage from spreading. We will continue to strengthen our efforts to reduce the severity and number of industrial accidents going forward.
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
- Step 1: Identification of hazard sources
- Step 2: Passing on through technology communication materials (summaries)
- Step 3: Analysis of factors leading to high level hazards (equipment damage, fire and explosion) and checking on appropriateness of countermeasures
- Step 4: Training of operators with ability to apply knowledge to work through troubleshooting drills
In particular, Step 4 involves training to ensure that all operators working in shifts can correctly respond to expected abnormalities (training to determine the cause of abnormalities, respond, and prevent them from spreading). In this training, time constraints are set for preventing the spread of abnormalities, and a third party, such as a section head or staff member with a daytime weekday shift, is present during the training. The individual skills of the trainees are then assessed to ensure that they are acting in the correct manner, and retraining is conducted until their skills reach the level required for their role.
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.
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 fix malfunctioning machinery and return it 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 conduct production activities at 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.
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. 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.
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.
|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|
We are also focusing on environmental and safety education at our branch offices and Works.
Since 2011, Kawasaki Works has been offering a wide range of hands-on safety courses, including the “Caught in/between something else hands-on experience” course, to educate both new and experienced workers. In recent years, we have been making efforts that include establishing courses that use VR to simulate the experience of tripping and falling on the same level. In fiscal 2021, the number of participants temporarily declined due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we were able to restore participant numbers by thoroughly implementing infection prevention measures.
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.
At the Suzuka Plant, different production departments conducted a joint disaster drill with only three-shift personnel to simulate holiday and nighttime hours. Premised on the scenario of a fire caused by a leak of flammable gas due to a large-scale earthquake, the production department where the disaster occurs sets up a local disaster prevention headquarters to conduct disaster prevention activities, while nearby production departments are responsible for ensuring evacuation and safety. We will identify issues and feedback from the training and work to improve them before the next training session.
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. In fiscal 2021, all drills were held remotely to prevent COVID-19 infections, but many participated.
[Fiscal 2021 logistics safety symposiums, joint safety meeting for hazardous products, and safety inspection for hazardous products]
- Logistics safety symposiums: 50 companies
- Joint safety meetings for hazardous products: 33 companies
- Safety inspection for hazardous products: 21 companies
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.
[Number of logistics accidents in fiscal 2021]
|Serious logistics accidents*||0 cases||0 cases|
|Logistics accidents**||0 cases||0 cases|
(Excluding some affiliates such as Asahi Kasei Homes)
- Definition of accidents:
- * Serious logistics accident: (1) One or more dead or seriously injured, (2) 100 million yen or more in damages, or (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, or (4) 5 million yen or more in damages