Health and safety

The health and safety of our people is paramount. We are in the process of establishing a culture of safety excellence within Birla Carbon – steered by strong leadership, driven by the commitment of our own people to putting the safety of themselves and others first. Building a culture takes time; we do not pretend to be at the end of our safety journey. We continue to see signs this year of real progress of our people understanding what it means to take responsibility for their safety. We expect this development to continue over the coming years.

Progress towards targets

Target: achieve zero recordable injuries year-on-year (employee Total Recordable Incident Rate).

FY2014FY2015FY2016FY2017FY2020 target

Target: achieve zero recordable injuries year-on-year (contractor Total Recordable Incident Rate).

FY2014FY2015FY2016FY2017FY2020 target

We are responsible for ensuring that everyone at our facilities is safe, from the moment they arrive to when they leave. In FY2017, we saw more injuries reported than in previous years – but the injuries themselves were less serious. Our injury rate still established us as leaders in our industry. This shows that, although more can be achieved and no injury is acceptable, our people have understood our safety expectations and take greater care in their daily work.

Until FY2016, we only assessed our safety performance reactively through lagging indicators, which track incident rates and violations after they have occurred. Over the last year, we have begun introducing leading indicators, designed to proactively prevent incidents and injuries. These indicators focus on:

  • HSE training and qualification;
  • Responding to hazard reports or employee concerns within 48 hours;
  • Investigating near misses within two business days;
  • HSE self-assessments and the completion of action plans to address findings.

After rolling out these indicators in FY2016, preliminary results suggest increased engagement from employees and leaders in HSE initiatives and positive change in safety culture. We expect these leading indicators to continue to drive improvements over the coming years, and we intend to refine them as our culture matures.

Our health and safety programs

We prepare our people as much as possible for the potential risks that work in our facilities entails. This preparation includes adherence to clear standards, education, training, auditing and follow-up to reinforce accountability. All Birla Carbon personnel are educated on their health, safety and environmental responsibilities on induction; these expectations are strengthened by regular training throughout their career.

We maintain robust corporate standards that exceed regulatory requirements in the countries where we operate; these are systematically implemented, considering local requirements. We also conduct corporate audits every two years to ensure that the sites comply with external requirements as well as our own standards; these audits also serve to identify and share best practices.

We inspect high-altitude areas via drones at our facility in Hickok, USA, avoiding the need to send employees to work at height.

Good health and wellbeing

Our Commitment Based Safety approach encourages employees to make commitments to their own health and wellbeing, including safe driving into and out from plant.

Decent work and economic growth

The health and safety of our people is a priority that underpins our work.

Partnerships for the goals

We help achieve the goals by working closely with our stakeholders, including community groups, universities, NGOs and the Aditya Birla Group.

60,000 risks managed annually in one plant with 100 employees – through Commitment Based Safety.

Safety management

Our approach to safety and health management involves a methodical, five-step process to ensure that each standard is entirely applicable to our operations.

Developing a standard

Developing a standard

In addition to regulatory requirements and recognized industry best practices, we conduct our own retrospective review of incidents and near-misses at our sites, to develop appropriate standards and expectations.

Training and implementation

Training and implementation

Once developed, each plant is responsible for training in and implementing these standards. Our safety leadership training focuses on the roles and responsibilities of leaders in instilling a culture of safety excellence for both our employees and the contracted workforce.

Executing an action plan

Executing an action plan

Each safety standard is internally and externally validated. An action plan is executed to track its successful implementation, monitor progress and reinforce accountability.

Conducting audits

Conducting audits

Each location is audited at two-year intervals by an external body to review the compliance of the safety standards with regulatory requirements and company standards. Safety managers from our other sites also participate in the review process, sharing best practices.

Refining action plans

Refining action plans

Specific tasks or activities identified during the audits are addressed by adjusting the action plan, reinforcing our drive for continuous improvement and safety excellence.

Changing our health and safety culture

Commitment Based Safety (CBS) is a process that requires individuals to make a personal commitment to positively change their own behavior, resulting in an overall shift in safety culture. Through CBS, we expect every person at every level to take responsibility and be accountable for both their safety and that of those around them. Specific risks and the behavior required to manage them are identified at a site level; employees provide daily reports on their progress. The understanding is that full compliance is not automatic, but that improvements can be made each day – and that once employees can manage their own commitments, they will be more effective at looking after others.

During FY2017, we continued our implementation of CBS in our North American facilities, and initiated the process at three other facilities in Brazil and India.

To gain a better understanding of our current safety culture, we conducted a perception survey in FY2017 at 11 facilities in nine different languages to encourage employee participation. The survey will give us a better understanding of local safety cultures, specifically their strengths and where specific improvements can be made. In FY2018 we plan to complete baseline surveys at the remaining sites. We are also planning to regularly conduct the survey to understand how employees feel about our HSE culture and identify continuous improvement opportunities.

 Key health and safety risks

Commitment Based Safety (CBS) encourages individuals to make a personal safety commitment to change the overall safety culture. Among the factors that we ask our employees to consider are these five occupational health risks, which every person working at our sites must be aware of.

Working at height

Use all prescribed personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task, including fall protection where work is performed at heights of above 2 meters.

Hot work

Secure a hot work permit and follow permit precautions when performing any spark-producing work, such as grinding or welding.


Isolate and verify all types of energy, including electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic and stored, when performing maintenance on equipment. Follow line breaking procedures when opening equipment that may contain hazardous materials.

Mobile equipment

Be aware of limitations and safety requirements, including the one-meter rule, for operating or working around mobile equipment such as forklift trucks.

Confined spaces

Follow procedures for identifying and controlling risks prior to and during an entry into a confined space to ensure it is safe to enter.

Our employees are regularly trained on the standards and precautions required to work safely. Above all, they are taught and expected to stop work at any time in which they feel that risks are not being properly controlled.

Strengthening HSE networking

In FY2017, we implemented regional quarterly health, safety and environment (HSE) online meetings to foster discussions between the sites on HSE issues and best practices. Any issues and interpretations related to global standards or programs in the areas of H&S, environmental, product stewardship, sustainability, and risk management are also discussed. The Global HSE group proposes at least one agenda topic per meeting and asks for ideas from participants from each region.

We had three sessions in FY17 and covered topics including safety performance trends, perception survey, Commitment Based Safety, implementation of new standards, best practices, machine guarding, and self-assessment checklists.

“These meetings allow us to go further in terms of sharing information. We hear from the experience of our colleagues what works and learn how to implement best practices in our own operations. The meetings also help us develop a sense of teamwork with our colleagues around the world.”

Jinho Kim, SHE & Engineering Manager, CCK, Korea

  • Safety

Protecting our contractors

Improving our health and safety performance demands that we work closely with contractors. Over the last two years, we have implemented a global standard on contractor management across all regions. During the same period, we have seen contractor safety performance improve significantly and the incident rate halved. In FY2018, we plan to strengthen our qualification and selection processes for contractors working in our facilities.

Auditing our performance

We regularly audit our compliance with regulations and standards, and manage our findings through Enablon, our integrated Sustainability Management System. Enablon facilitates data tracking across facilities and the development of a better understanding of specific issues. The system also provides a platform for devising and tracking action plans, ensuring their completion and reinforcing accountability for sites and individuals. In FY2017, we conducted a total of 15 audits at our sites: seven for health and safety and eight for environmental performance.

Since FY2015, we have developed or revised 13 standards and three guidance documents to strengthen our HS&E programs. These standards are the central focus of our audits, which observe working practices and evaluate standard effectiveness on-site, reporting monthly. Each standard also includes a self-assessment section, which requires site leaders to monitor and track improvements. New standards rolled-out in FY2017 included Confined Space Entry, Fall Protection and Prevention, and Electrical Safety. Standards on Waste Management and Major Incident Prevention are currently being developed.