Safety – both for us and our customers – when handling our gases, safety in the workplace, be it on the shop floor or in the office, plant safety 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. Health and safety at work are firmly established in our company as well as our industry as a fundamental element. In our mission statement, our internal guidelines and our organisational approach, safety is a central feature for all business units, thereby enabling our experts to implement individual measures aimed at constant improvement. The topic of workplace safety also accounts for a full section in the Messer Group Management Report where additional information can also be found. Overall, the safety figures at Messer have shown clear improvement in nearly all areas. Unfortunately, there was a death in the workforce this year.

Safety of our employees

The number of industrial accidents reported with loss of working hours fell sharply from 25 (2016) to 15 in 2017. The rate of loss of employee working time per million hours worked (accident frequency rate) fell by 1 to 1.4.

The number of employee working days lost (industrial accident severity rate) per million hours worked also fell in 2017, from 77.9 to 45.4. In 2017, there were 37 reportable industrial accidents, compared to 88 the previous year. The frequency rate of reportable industrial accidents per million hours worked decreased from 8.3 to 3.5. Unfortunately, the number of deaths rose from 0 in 2016 to 1 in 2017: while inspecting painting work on a storage tank, an employee fell from a scaffold and succumbed to his injuries.

Messer Group Safety Campaign 2017:

We want you … safe and healthy!  
The Messer Group had once again set itself the goal of improving its key performance indicators in the area of occupational safety in 2017. All of the safety measures are accompanied by a new poster campaign which was announced for early 2017 on Safety Day 2016: under the slogan “We want you... safe and healthy!”, the Management of Messer Group and the Managing Directors of the Group’s companies are making a personal appeal to their employees to comply with the safety guidelines. To this end, portrait photos were taken of all the Messer Group’s senior executives during a photo shoot at the 2016 Company Conference in Romania. The new campaign was also presented as part of internal safety training.

Safety Day at all locations

On 8 September 2017, the Messer Group held its annual international Safety Day. The main topics this year were personal responsibility and raising awareness of potential hazards. A basic rule was underlined in this regard: all employees should take responsibility for their own actions, their own situations and their own decisions and in cases of uncertainty, they should ask someone. The Safety Day also provided the ideal platform to broach the subject of terrorism, which poses a threat to businesses like Messer as much as it does to any other members of society. It is important to the company to sensitize its employees to conspicuous and correct behaviour.

Messer has also been heightening its employees’ awareness of topics in the field of environmental protection since 2013 with its annual Health and Safety Day.

EIGA Safety Awards

Messer received 15 Safety Awards for exemplary work safety from the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) on the occasion of its Summer Session 2017, which was held in Manchester, England, at the beginning of June:

Messer Tatragas (Slovakia) received the “Gold Two Star Safety Award” for 25 years of accident-free operations. The Messer Technogas filling plant in Kladno (Czech Republic), the Messer Vardar Tehnogas site in Skopje (Macedonia) and Messer Mostar Plin (Bosnia-Herzegovina) were each honoured with an EIGA Award in the “Gold Star” category for zero industrial accidents in 20 years.
OOO Elme Messer K (Kaliningrad), Messer Energo Gaz (Romania), Messer France’s Gondecourt site (France) as well as the Messer Ibérica de Gases site in Tarragona (Spain) and UAB Elme Messer’s Vilnius site (Lithuania) were each awarded a Gold EIGA Safety Award for 15 years without industrial accidents.

The Messer Croatia Plin site at Kutina (Croatia) and Messer Slovnaft (Slovakia) each received a Silver Safety Award for ten years without accidents. A further Silver Award went to Messer Croatia Plin (Croatia) for 500,000 accident-free man-hours at its Zapresic plant.

In the “Bronze” category, the Messer Tehnogas site at Bor (Serbia), Messer Polska’s Kędzierzyn-Koźle site (Poland) and Messer Industriegase (Germany) were each honoured for five years with zero industrial accidents. To further strengthen our safety campaign, the Management of Messer Group thanked the responsible employees of the named national subsidiaries companies for their outstanding service in the context of a formal event. The EIGA Safety Awards were presented at the event by Danilo Ritlop, Senior Vice President SHEQ, together with the member of Management in charge for the respective region.

Switzerland: Fire brigade drill

The exercise held on 18 May 2017 at the site of Messer Schweiz in Lenzburg had two main areas of emphasis: the visit to the new liquid oxygen filling facility was particularly useful for this. Firstly it served to update the fire brigade’s knowledge of the site and danger spots, the visit to the new filling building for liquid oxygen. Secondly, a fire was simulated at the filling facility for hydrogen trailers. For this purpose, the fire brigade used a water wall (hydroshield), which, in the event of emergency, keeps a fire from spreading while simultaneously cooling the hydrogen trailer. This was also an opportunity to test the plant’s own water network to check if it is fit for use in an emergency.

Safety of our customers

In 2017, we operated 8,808 facilities of our own at our customers’ sites. In the Sustainability Report 2016 by Messer Group, a calculation error wrongly identified 7,705 own facilities for the financial year. The correct figure is that we operated a total of 8,390 facilities of our own at our customers’ sites. Accordingly, the number for 2017 was 418 higher. These facilities underwent a total of 9,171 technical tests. In total, Messer carried out 1,582 safety audits on its own facilities at customers’ sites; this figure is 283 higher than in the previous year. Messer conducted 1,590 safety training events at customer sites, which were attended by a total of 4,716 participants.

Poster for colour-coding of cylinders

Identifying key hazard characteristics of industrial and medical gases in cylinders at a glance: A poster issued in 2017 lists the colour codes that Messer uses on the basis of the EN 1089-3 standard. This makes it possible to tell from a distance whether, for example, a gas is toxic, flammable or oxidising. In addition, the hazardous material labels contain further information on the properties of each gas. The poster is sent to interested parties free of charge.

Messer warns against silent death by carbon dioxide poisoning

With safety posters available to order free of charge, Messer drew attention to “silent death” due to increased concentrations of CO2. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, and at elevated concentrations it acts as an asphyxiant by causing oxygen depletion. 

But CO2 also has acute systemic effects on the body that are not related to oxygen concentration. If the carbon dioxide concentration in ambient air rises, the natural gas exchange in the human lungs no longer works correctly, and a lethal carbon dioxide poisoning can result.

Safety information on paper and online

More service and safety for users of gases in cylinders: Messer provided four pocket guides on safe handling and transport of gases for its customers. These are also available as web-tutorials on Messer‘s YouTube channel.

Hungary: Rehearsing for the real thing

On 3 October 2017, Messer Hungarogäz took part in an emergency exercise at the premises of Ajka Crystal, a Messer customer in the Hungarian town of Ajka. As per the training plan, this involved simulating the kind of accident that could happen with liquid oxygen when filling a pressure vessel. A sudden escape of the cryogenic oxygen can result in those involved in the accident suffering cold burns. An Ajka Crystal first-aider attended to a suitably prepared exercise ‘victim’, while the professional fire brigade were called out to deal with the fire-fighting.

Emergency training at Ajka Crystal, a customer in Hungary

Safety of our logistics and vehicles

The relevant key performance indicators regarding the “safety of our logistics” show a very positive trend. The number of avoidable accidents in connection with the transportation of gas cylinders fell sharply from 12 in 2016 to 4 in 2017. Per million kilometres driven, this signifies a decrease from 0.48 to 0.17.

The number of avoidable accidents in connection with the transportation of liquid gases also fell sharply.

In 2016, there were 31 accidents, while in 2017 that figure fell to 13. Per million kilometres driven, this signifies a decrease in frequency from 0.49 to 0.15.

In addition to the statutory provisions on operating a vehicle fleet, Messer also implements its own safety concept for the transport of gases with tankers and cylinder trailers. The driver training prescribed as per ADR (European Agreement Concerning the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) is thus supplemented by our own modular driver training programme. You can read about further measures in the area of transport safety in Messer Group’s 2017 Management Report.

Slovenia: Driver training for increased safety

Safety has right of way at Messer. Accordingly, 41 Messer Slovenija colleagues from the sales, application technology, maintenance, SHEQ and management teams took part in a driving safety project organised by the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce. The project was carried out in the most modern training centre in Slovenia, the “AMZS Driving Safety Centre” in Vransko. The facility spans 15 hectares, or approximately the size of nine football pitches. Driving safety training is carried out here under the strictest European directives.

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