Health and safety

The health and safety of our people is paramount. Our aim is to create a culture of safety excellence throughout Birla Carbon. This culture begins with leadership: establishing a clear vision, communicating specific expectations for safe behaviors, aligning the organization with the vision and expectations, and ensuring that people are held accountable for their actions. In FY2016, we have seen our people make a personal commitment to safety. Our approach is to engage people in identifying and managing health and safety risks at all of our sites for our employees and the contracted workforce. We apply all of our standards and procedures, while communicating safety messages, in an appropriate, relevant way across our plants.

Progress towards target

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

Target: Achieve zero recordable injuries year-on-year (contractor Total Recordable Incident Rate)
Target: Achieve zero recordable injuries year-on-year (employee Total Recordable Incident Rate)
FY2013FY2014FY2015FY2016FY2020 target
0.61 0.81 0.43 0.40 0

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

FY2013FY2014FY2015FY2016FY2020 target
0.68 0.44 0.42 0.22 0

The health and safety of everyone at our facilities, from the moment they arrive to when they leave to go home, is our responsibility. Although FY2016 saw record safety results in our long history, spanning over almost 170 years, we recognize that more can be done.

Conventionally, we assess our safety performance through incident rates and violations, which are lagging indicators as they measure events after the fact. To improve further, we engaged with our Health and Safety professionals worldwide and developed four leading indicators, aimed at proactively preventing incidents and injuries.

It is expected that these leading indicators will influence our safety culture and minimize at-risk behavior:

  • Completion of required HSE training and qualification.
  • Reports of hazards or employee concerns completed within 48 hours.
  • Near miss investigations completed within two business days.
  • Completion of HSE programs self-assessments with action plans/tasks to address findings.

All Health and Safety personnel were introduced to the purpose, definitions and data collection process through on-site training in January 2016. The first round of data collection began in March 2016 and we will evaluate the effectiveness of these leading indicators over the next year.

How do our health and safety programs work?

Our goal is active risk management through clear standards, education, training, auditing and follow-up to reinforce accountability. Health, safety and environmental responsibilities are taught to all of our people on induction and reinforced by regular training.

Over the last three years, in addition to regulatory requirements and recognized industry best practices, we have developed a range of global standards based on our own review of historical incidents and near-misses at our sites. Each plant is responsible for implementing and monitoring progress against these standards and producing a monthly report for our Senior Management Team.  All sites are also audited at two-year intervals to assure compliance with regulatory requirements and company standards, as well as to identify and share best practices.


reduction in TRIR over the last two years

Safety management

Feedstock Oil

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

Extraction and refinement

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

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

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

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

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

In FY2015, we implemented a safety leadership training process, known as Safety 24/7, focusing on the roles and responsibilities of leaders in sustaining a culture of safety excellence. We finished the roll-out of Safety 24/7 in the first half of FY2016, almost a year ahead of schedule. We are now monitoring implementation through site visits, our audit processes and are using a series of training videos from actual training sessions.

Over the last year, we have moved on from leadership training by introducing the concept of Commitment Based Safety (CBS) in several of our locations. Through CBS, we encourage individuals to make a personal safety commitment to positively change the overall safety culture. A core element of CBS is the expectation that every person at every level is responsible and ultimately accountable for both their safety and that of those around them. 

 Key health and safety risks

Feedstock Oil

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.

Feedstock Oil

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.

Water injection


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.

Pellet formation

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.

In practice, CBS begins with the identification of specific risks and the behavior required to manage these risks. Employees are then requested to make a commitment to personally manage three of these risks and report daily on their progress. Daily reporting and discussion of these commitments reinforces accountability. Employees are not expected to be 100% compliant from the start, but it is hoped that they will improve each day. Once employees have mastered managing their own commitments they can start to be effective at looking after others.

CBS was introduced to all HS&E personnel in FY2016 and implementation was completed at all of our North American facilities. The implementation required a visit to each facility, accompanied by an in-depth introduction to the concept and training for all managers and plant personnel. We expect to roll out CBS at other sites around the world in FY2017.

case study

From commitment to culture

Safety has to be a personal commitment: companies can implement regulations, but it is up to individuals to choose to be safe. One example of where this is happening is at North Bend, Louisiana in the US, where commitment-based safety was implemented in FY2015 by the facility’s general manager, Vito Fiore. Although many employees were initially skeptical, the concept gradually met with success – thanks to daily conversations between employees about their commitments and the follow-up by leadership to ensure that these conversations occurred.

“The process provided a safe, non-confrontational way to engage co-workers about their commitments,” stated Kevin Brown, formerly the quality lab supervisor in North Bend and currently a chemist in the Marietta Research Center. “Humility was an important element of the process. Once employees saw the commitment from management and their genuine care and concern, the culture started to change.”

In addition to the daily discussions, the management at North Bend has taken this process out of the meeting rooms and on to the work floor, engaging employees from 230 to 250 times per week. Although these are early days, there has already been visible progress: by the end of FY2016, injuries at the plant were reduced by 50% when compared with the previous year and the facility had achieved over 433,000 work hours (470 days) without time lost to injury.

Protecting our contractors

Changing our health and safety culture on our sites depends on working closely with our contractors. In FY2016 Birla Carbon implemented a global standard to improve contractor management. This standard is reflecting the best practices available in all regions and contains the following core elements:.

  • a rigorous qualification process to ensure that only contractors that meet our health, safety and environmental requirements are approved to work on our sites. Hiring better qualified contractors will result in better safety performance;
  • better management and accountability for contractors while working on-site; and
  • post-work contractor evaluation on health, safety and environmental performance for consideration for future collaboration.

Contractor safety performance for FY2016 was 48% better than in the previous year.

Auditing our performance

In FY2016, a total of 18 audits were conducted at our sites; 10 for health and safety and eight for environmental performance. Findings from all of the audits are now entered and tracked through Enablon, our integrated Sustainability Management System, which was implemented globally. This system enables us to share and compare data between facilities to better gauge specific situations and issues. Enablon also allows us to devise and track action plans, ensuring their completion and reinforcing the accountability of sites and individuals.

We continue to strengthen our audit processes: over the past two years, we have developed or revised nine internal HSE standards to improve compliance and programs at all sites. Progress on implementing these standards is reported monthly. We are currently developing or revising an additional eight standards to strengthen our HSE programs.

These standards have also become the focal point of our audit program. A significant portion of the audit is spent in the plant observing work practices and evaluating effectiveness of these standards; audit results are tracked and reported monthly. Additionally, each standard now includes an annual self-assessment, requiring site leadership to evaluate and track improvements in HSE. In FY2017, we will add 10 new sections to our audit program to address management systems and the maturity of the site safety and environmental culture.


reduction in TRIR over the last two years