Safety, health and environmental protection (SHE) form an integral part of Messer’s activities as a business. Only a universal, well-organised SHE system can ensure sound management of business risks and continuous improvement of operational processes as well as performance in the areas of safety, health and environmental protection. In January 2018, as part of a continuous improvement process, the Management of Messer Group published a new version of the SHE Manualas a binding document within the Messer Compliance Management System(CMS).
Safety – both for us and our customers – when handling gases, safety in the workplace, be it on the shop floor or in the office, as well as safe logistics and vehicles – all these elements are of fundamental importance to our customers, partners and employees. This is clearly reflected in our materiality matrix. In 2018, the new web-based INCA incident management tool was used to record and statistically analyse workplace safety and environmental protection incidents. Although the number of industrial accidents reported with loss of working hours fell slightly, there was an increase in the number of days lost due to the severity of the accidents. The majority of industrial accidents in 2018 occurred during maintenance work. This is one of the reasons why we are focusing on the safety of our suppliers. In future, the companies in the ASEAN region will also be expected to report their incidents via INCA. Our goal is zero accidents.
There were no fatalities among Messer’s workforce last year.
There were ongoing safety projects in 2018 with the repeat of our annual “Safety Day” as well as the safety campaigns at our national subsidiaries, which are transmitted via large monitors installed in heavily used parts of the buildings such as canteens or recreation rooms. Then there is also the ideas management scheme in the area of safety, which will be revitalised in the future. Every year we give a safety award to the national subsidiaries that have most effectively implemented our safety guidelines in order to encourage our employees to achieve the best possible results. In the area of logistics, we implement internationally recognised safety measures and engage in a continuous exchange of experience with a view to improving our safety performance. In future we also intend to give awards for safe behaviour in the area of logistics. In addition, our logistics safety measures will be supplemented by supplier audits.
Our series of safety pocket guides on handling and transporting our gases – designed for cylinder gas customers – will be further expanded in future.
In the area of operational safety, we have further developed our guidelines and carried out risk analyses on an ongoing basis. We will seek to further strengthen contact and communication between the works managers at our production sites and our central safety management team. At the same time we will make continued efforts to harmonise our plant safety system.
The number of industrial accidents reported with loss of working hours fell further from 15 in 2017 to 14 in 2018. The rate of loss of employee working time per million hours worked (accident frequency rate) went down from 1.4 in 2017 to 1.3 in 2018. However, the number of working days lost (industrial accident severity rate) per million hours worked increased significantly from 45.5 in 2017 to 64 in 2018. There were 23 reportable industrial accidents in 2018, a drop of 14 compared with 2017. The frequency rate of reportable industrial accidents per million hours worked decreased from 3.5 to 2.2. Most injuries or illnesses occurred as a result of carelessness, haste, disorder or taking shortcuts rather than being directly linked to our products.
Safety Award and Safety Day 2018
Safety Day information campaigns, the annual Safety Award, regular safety inspections and the sharing of information via newsletters or among members of the workforce help keep employees vigilant, because they are responsible for their health and safety. The Safety Award 2018 was given to Messer Hungarogáz, Hungary, while the runner-up award went to MG Odra Gaz, Czech Republic. Messer held its annual international Safety Day on 14 September 2018. The day’s main topic was “defensive driving”. Many Messer employees travel to work in their own car or a company vehicle. Commuting accidents were the second most common cause of injuries at Messer in 2018. No regular safety training takes place on the annual Safety Day. The purpose of this day is to promote awareness of the 14 safety rules of the EIGA, the European Industrial Gases Association.
EIGA Safety Awards
Messer received six Safety Awards for exemplary work safety from the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) on the occasion of its Summer Session, which was held in Riga, Latvia, in June 2018: Messer Technogas (Czech Republic) was given the Gold Two Star Safety Award for two million hours worked with zero industrial accidents at its Kladno cylinder gas filling plant. Messer Tehnogas (Serbia) was honoured with the Gold Safety Award for 15 years of accident-free operations at its Niš site. Messer Hungarogáz (Hungary) received a Silver Safety Award for 500,000 accident-free man-hours at its Budapest site. Messer France’s Saint-Georges-d’Espéranche site (France) and the Messer Tehnogas site in Smederevo (Serbia) were each honoured in the Bronze category for five years with zero industrial accidents. In addition, the European Industrial Gases Association honoured Messer Hungarogáz with the Road Safety Award 2017 for the lowest accident rate in the Cylinder and Bulk Vehicles category, based on an annual driving distance of 500,000 to two million kilometres.
In 2018, we operated 8,890 facilities at our customers’ sites – 82 more than in the previous year. These facilities underwent a total of 9,395 technical tests. Messer carried out 2,170 safety audits of its own facilities at customers’ sites – 588 more than in the previous year. The number of safety training events for customers decreased slightly from 1,590 in 2017 to 1,563 in 2018, but remained at a high level overall. Our safety training events were attended by a total of 5,273 participants, representing an increase of 557 customers.
Web tutorial on safe handling of MegaPack C cylinder bundle
In 2018, a tutorial with step-by-step instructions on how to correctly connect the “MegaPack C” compact cylinder gas bundle was published. The video is available in German and English on Messer’s YouTube channel. The tutorial – just under four minutes long – is complemented by information on the specific features of MegaPack C, an interview with an expert and a summary of the bundle’s advantages. This video is a continuation of Messer’s strategy of providing more service and safety in connection with cylinder gas applications. In 2017, the industrial gases manufacturer had already published four pocket guides on the safe handling and transportation of gases.
Following a fire in Dillenburg, Germany, the fire brigade had to secure gas cylinders that could no longer be identified. At the fire brigade’s training ground, these cylinders were depressurised by a special police unit firing at them. The necessary technical concept was developed by Messer Industriegase. At the end, the cylinders were disposed of properly.
The transportation of gases and equipment on the road and customer deliveries are activities which involve the most risks in the gas industry. For this reason, Messer has put its signature to the European Road Safety Charter, thus undertaking to place particular emphasis on transport safety. As well as complying with applicable laws and regulations for operating a vehicle fleet, the Messer Group’s own transport safety plan has proved invaluable.
A large proportion of the drivers working for Messer are employed by external transport firms, which are responsible for training the drivers in accordance with the ADR (European Agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road). Unfortunately, the number of avoidable accidents in connection with the transportation of our cylinder gases rose from four in 2017 to nine in 2018. Per million kilometres driven, that equates to an increase from 0.17 to 0.41.
The number of avoidable accidents in connection with the transportation of liquid gases also rose slightly from 13 in 2017 to 14 in 2018; the frequency rate per million kilometres driven thus increased from 0.15 in 2017 to 0.19 in 2018.
We aim to reduce the number of accidents by means of appropriate supplier management, load securing and information on defensive driving.
In addition to the transport companies’ training materials, Messer has also drawn up its own modular driver training package which is used to train drivers. The main themes covered by the training are:
- Laws and regulations (ADR and national provisions)
- Technical aspects (hazards arising from product, vehicle and tank technology, vehicle checks, safety technology)
- Accident avoidance
- Defensive, economical driving
In addition, all drivers receive a driver manual specific to their work (bulk, cylinders or service vehicles). This ensures that drivers have immediate access to all important information relating to their activities.
In 2018, Messer also tested the introduction of an on-board computer system with a focus on transport safety. The system provides direct optical and acoustic feedback to drivers regarding economical and safe driving so that they can immediately adjust the way they drive. It also allows limit violations and accidents to be evaluated through trip data analysis. Moreover, the data obtained is used to facilitate benchmarking of individual drivers’ ways of driving and to aid further driver-specific training in the areas of safety and economy. Following a successful test phase at two national subsidiaries, the system is to be rolled out to the majority of the fleet in 2019.
Furthermore, Messer specialists are actively involved in all relevant EIGA bodies and, to a large extent, in the national associations as well. The findings from the activities conducted within these bodies are incorporated into the driver manual and the driver training scheme on an ongoing basis with a view to enhancing transport safety. In this way, Messer is making its contribution to a steady reduction in the number of transport-related incidents.