Health and safety

The health and safety of our people is paramount. In FY2018, we continued on our journey to establish a culture of safety excellence within Birla Carbon – steered by strong leadership and driven by the commitment of our own people to putting the safety of themselves and others first.

Building a strong safety culture takes time; we do not pretend to be at the end of our journey. We continue to make progress with our people at every level, building understanding of what it means to take responsibility for our own and each others’ safety. We expect this trend to continue to mature over the coming years.

Progress towards target

Target: Achieve zero recordable injuries year on year (employee and contractor Total Recordable Incident Rate).

FY2015FY2016FY2017FY2018FY2030 target

We are responsible for ensuring that everyone at our facilities is safe, from the moment they arrive to when they leave. Our injury rate continues to position us as a leader in our industry; in FY2018, 14 of 19 facilities reported no recordable injuries to employees, and 11 of the 19 facilities reported no recordable contractor injuries. We can still do more as we strive for zero injuries, but our progress demonstrates that people have understood our safety expectations and are taking care in their daily work.

In FY2017, we introduced leading indicators, designed to proactively prevent incidents and injuries before they occur. 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; and
  • HSE self-assessments and the completion of action plans to address findings.

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 to identify and manage the potential safety risks they might face while working in our facilities. This preparation includes adherence to clear standards, work permitting processes, education, training, auditing and follow-up to reinforce accountability.

All Birla Carbon personnel are educated on their health, safety and environmental responsibilities during their induction. Expectations and capabilities are strengthened by regular training throughout the year.

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 sites comply with external requirements as well as our own standards. These audits also serve to identify and share best practices.

During FY2018, we held four safety awareness weeks focused on lock-out/tag-out of hazardous energies, work permitting, mobile equipment and working safely during challenging conditions. Safety information and posters are provided to sites and these are translated and reviewed each day during the awareness week.

Good health and well-being

Our Commitment Based Safety approach encourages employees to make personal commitments to their own health and wellbeing, resulting in sustainable work practices and individual accountability.

Decent work and economic growth

The health and safety of our people is a shared value that is integrated into all of our activities.

Partnership for the goals

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

87% of employees believe that safety is a priority for their immediate supervisor – testament to our strong safety culture.

 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.

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

At Birla Carbon, we believe a culture of safety is made up of individuals who value safety and actively manage their risks every day. We are continuing to deploy the Commitment Based Safety (CBS) process as a means for individuals to make personal commitments to managing and discussing the risks they face. 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. Our aim is to create a culture where all employees are aware of the risks they face and they take active care for others; when someone observes someone at risk, we want them to stop and take action to help avoid that risk.

Specific risks and the behaviors required to manage them are identified at a site level and employees provide daily reports on their progress. This creates safe habits, both in terms of behaviors and the daily expectation to report on and be accountable for managing risks. 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 FY2018, we continued our implementation of CBS in our facilities in North America, Brazil and India, successfully introducing it across eight sites by the end of August 2018. We have also launched the approach in Egypt, Italy and Hungary. In FY2019, we will expand to cover all regions.

To gain a better understanding of our current baseline safety culture, we conducted employee perception surveys across 11 facilities in FY2017. In FY2018, we extended these surveys to four additional sites, bringing the total coverage to 75% employees. Results are categorized into major topics such as employee engagement, risk taking and recognition and are used to improve our understanding of local safety culture, including strengths and where improvements can be made. Leadership teams are asked to focus on improvement activities that will have a significant impact within their region.

Protecting our contractors

Improving our health and safety performance demands that we work closely with contractors, who may not apply the same standards or have the same safety understanding as our own employees. Since we introduced our Global Standard on Contractor Management in 2015, we have seen contractor safety performance improve significantly with the incident rate halved. In FY2018, our sites in North America contracted Browz, a third-party provider, to improve the qualification process. Browz collects information from contractors including safety incidence rates, insurance coverage, and safety and health programs, based on Birla Carbon specifications. The information is evaluated and scored, with each contractor assigned a rating. Only those that meet Birla Carbon requirements are qualified to work in the plants. The process has also saved the sites time in qualifying and selecting contractors.

Auditing our performance

We regularly audit compliance with regulations and standards across our operations. Enablon, our integrated Sustainability Management System, facilitates data tracking and supports the development of a better understanding of specific issues. It also provides a platform for devising and tracking action plans, ensuring their completion and reinforcing accountability for sites and individuals. In FY2018, we conducted a total of 16 audits at our sites: nine for health and safety and seven for environmental performance (2017: 15 audits).

We revised our auditing process in FY2018 to meet regulatory and global standards compliance requirements and introduced a scoring process to assist local management in prioritizing findings when improvements are needed, and measuring future progress. Regional presidents will now report quarterly on the results of audits at Senior Leadership Team meetings.

Since FY2015, we have developed or revised 13 standards and three guidance documents to strengthen our HSE 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 FY2018 include Waste Management and Major Incident Prevention.