Process Safety and Disaster Prevention
All Nippon Shokubai employees engage in various activities to ensure safety based on our Safety Philosophy, “Safety takes priority over production.”
Basic Approach to Safety Issues
We have incorporated the lessons learned from the accident at the Himeji Plant in 2012 to reinforce our basic approach to safety issues. We have clarified our Safety Philosophy, Safety Oath, and the safety management principles presented below, as well as the roles of the company at each organizational level, and are ensuring that all employees stay fully informed.
Principles for safety management
The Company’s “Rules for Safety Management” set out the basic principles for safety management, guidelines for manufacturing activities, and more, which we put into practice.
Excerpt from basic principles for safety management
(1) Ensure safety based on our Safety Philosophy, “Safety takes priority over production.”
Guidelines for manufacturing activities
(1) When you detect anything out of the ordinary during operations, immediately shut down operations. You are not responsible for the consequences of the shutdown.
Message from the President on Safety
With FY2022 marking the 10th anniversary of the explosion and fire at the acrylic acid production facilities, the President re-emphasized in his speech that we should not let the memory of the accident fade away. In response, safety discussions were held in every workplace during Safe Operation Month (September 16 to October 15), in which employees looked back at the accident and discussed what should be done to prevent such an accident from occurring again.
In addition, the President visited the Himeji and Kawasaki Plants to energetically conduct safety inspections. He had a lively dialogue with the employees and re-emphasized the importance of continuing to pursue safe and stable production activities with the company’s Safety Philosophy “Safety takes priority over production” deeply in mind.
Promoting Voluntary Safety Activities
Since our founding, we have promoted voluntary safety activities with the aims of ensuring safe manufacturing under proprietary technology and completely avoiding Class A and Class B process safety accidents.
Our efforts to prevent trouble include adopting HAZOP as our method of identifying potential risks at plants and systematically implementing it (including both routine and non-routine situations) in addition to consistently implementing change and non-routine work management.
We also implement small group activities—HMI activities at the Himeji Plant and TPM activities at the Kawasaki Plant—to identify deficiencies and promote improvement.
We intend to continue implementing broad-ranging activities to prevent trouble.
Systematically implementing safety measures
When accidents occur, we analyze the causes from various perspectives and implement countermeasures in addition to reflecting and systematically implementing permanent measures for facilities in maintenance plans. We also systematically promote measures to counter the age-related deterioration of facilities.
In light of our experience with the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, we have reviewed and undertaken both technical and non-technical measures to prepare for massive earthquakes and tsunami. We also periodically revise and strengthen the measures.
Regarding existing measures to improve the earthquake resistance of high-pressure gas facilities, we have already verified that our spherical tanks with steel pipe braces and gas holders—critical high-pressure gas facilities in terms of seismic design—satisfy earthquake-resistance standards, and have reported that fact to the relevant administrative agencies. We will also continue to implement earthquake resistant measures for piping in FY2023.
Recent history of process safety accidents
In FY2022, we had zero Class A or B process safety accidents. We will continue efforts to prevent process safety accidents while continuously improving safety activities.
Enhancing education and training
We are striving to enhance training for chemical plant risk management in an effort to strengthen skills and abilities pertaining to safety.
With all due attention to measures to prevent COVID-19 infections, courses on risk management and other related topics were given in FY2022, as usual, by instructors from the Sanyo Association for Advancement of Science & Technology, in which a total of 48 employees participated.
We also collect and organize “Know-Why” information for use in training to enable trainees at both plants to inherit techniques and understand the basis for procedures and rules.
We intend to continue internal and external training while incorporating the views of our employees in an effort to improve their knowledge and awareness of safety.
Maintaining and improving safety management activities
RC inspections are conducted by management personnel at the Himeji and Kawasaki Plants each year. In FY2022, which marked the 10th anniversary of the 2012 accident, the management checked the status of fostering a safety culture, in addition to the safety management activities, at each plant.
The Head Office also conducted safety audits led by the officer in charge of the Responsible Care Division in an effort to continuously improve safety management activities.
Certified high-pressure gas plants
The Chidori and Ukishima Plants of the Kawasaki Plant were certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1989 and 1991, respectively, as entities capable of conducting completion and safety inspections for high-pressure gas certification, and each undergoes screenings for renewal every five years.
This certification allows plants with outstanding voluntary safety systems to continuously operate high-pressure gas manufacturing facilities and conduct their own safety inspections. The certification of the Chidori Plant was renewed in June 2022.
Improving emergency drills
Each plant has established a disaster risk reduction system and systematically conducts emergency drills for different types of disasters and accidents each year.
In FY2022, workarounds were required to conduct the drills with due attention to measures to prevent COVID-19 infections.
By reflecting the issues identified in disaster prevention drills into subsequent drills, we revise and strengthen our disaster risk reduction system as well as education and training.
Strengthening the culture of prioritizing safety
Each plant engages in distinct initiatives—for example, self-checks of basic safety behaviors at the Himeji Plant and checks of safety behaviors at the Kawasaki Plant—in an effort to strengthen the culture of prioritizing safety.
Additionally, in November 2022, the Kawasaki Plant underwent a third-party evaluation of safety competency (safety culture) conducted by the Japan Industrial Safety Competency Center. The plant will reflect the recommendations in its RC plan in an ongoing effort to improve safety competency.
Preserving memories of accidents
To prevent memories and lessons learned from the 2012 accident from fading and to demonstrate our determination to avoid similar accidents, we held another Safety Oath Ceremony in front of the Safety Oath monument at the Himeji Plant in FY2022 to recommit ourselves to improving our safety capacity.
At the 40th Safety Promotion Meeting and the 13th Safety Award Ceremony of the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association, an employee of the Kawasaki Plant was commended for his years of efforts and achievements in ensuring workplace safety.