Operational safety

Policy

Measures for operational safety in the Asahi Kasei Group are performed in accordance with our Basic Policy for Safe Operation. An ongoing and autonomous program to ensure operational safety includes safety assessment and hazard identification, with specific plans implemented on both annual and multi-year cycles. As set forth in the Asahi Kasei Group RC Principles, we give the utmost consideration to environmental protection, quality assurance, operational safety, workplace safety and hygiene, and health maintenance, throughout the product life cycle from R&D to disposal, as preeminent management tasks in all operations. In addition to maintaining legal compliance, we set self-imposed targets for continuous improvement, while performing proactive information disclosure and communication to gain public understanding and trust.

Basic Policy for Safe Operation

We maintain the safety of employees and local communities through stable and safe operation, while working to prevent workplace injuries

At the Mizushima Works and Kawasaki Works, we have received certification for self-inspection for high-pressure gas safety from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Accordingly, we perform our own “completion inspections” and “safety inspections” as part of the ongoing effort to maintain stable and safe operation. In fiscal 2017, the Kawasaki Works underwent examination for renewal of the certification. As with the Mizushima Works in fiscal 2016, we received an evaluation of “A,” the highest level, indicating outstanding measures which are exemplary for other organizations.

Basic Policy for High-Pressure Gas Safety

  • Safety is an important fundamental of management, and all of our business activities depend on safety.
  • Each one of our employees is responsible for safety, and safety is ensured by all employees together.
  • We apply a PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle to continuously improve the level of safety.
  • Measures to assess risks, and to eliminate and mitigate them, are persistent and ongoing.
Operational safety management system
Operational safety management system
PDCA cycle for safety management
PDCA cycle for safety management

Plant safety management

To achieve safe operations, it is essential to perform sound plant maintenance, and to operate facilities in a stable and safe manner. The Asahi Kasei Group avoids operational accidents through risk assessments prior to the construction of new plants, periodic inspections of existing plants performed by auditors specialized in fire and explosion prevention, process reviews from the perspective of preventing abnormal reactions and ensuring interlock functions, and process reviews corresponding to the age of facilities.

Beginning in fiscal 2013, we completed a program of on-site confirmation to identify hazards from the perspective of preventing abnormal reactions and ensuring interlock functions, and have been preparing technical documents on items with a high degree of hazard and on accidents and problems which occurred in the past. From fiscal 2015, we are implementing education and training for managers and operators to enable them to properly identify the cause and take appropriate action if problems occur, including problems that have not been previously encountered. To enable appropriate response to any irregularity, the training program incorporates the results of third-party verification performed by Corporate ESH and extensive discussions on safety at each production section. There were no serious operational accidents inside or outside Japan during fiscal 2017.

Pre-investment inspection system

System for inspection prior to capital investment
System for inspection prior to capital investment

We perform process hazard assessment before plant construction to ensure a high level of safety. Internal regulations require a pre-investment inspection to verify plant safety when there are plans to invest in a new plant, plant expansion, or plant modification of a certain scale or larger. Inspection and approval prior to trial operation provides an additional confirmation of plant safety before commercial operation begins. The inspection system is applied not only in Japan, but also outside of Japan.

Safety assessment is performed as part of the pre-investment inspection. Ranks are assigned based on the degree of hazard, with methods such as HAZOP* utilized in the risk assessment of high hazard facilities, and other risk assessment methods utilized for low-risk plants which are deemed to be vital.

Safe, stable plant operation

Given our diverse range of operations that include the Material, Homes, and Health Care business sectors, the Asahi Kasei Group has plants with a wide variety of different characteristics. No single approach to safety would be appropriate for all plants.

We employ a systematic process to tailor the safety effort to each plant's specific requirements, including the use of PDCA cycles. One characteristic of process is the formulation of separate maintenance standards for each individual unit of equipment to ensure the appropriateness of the method and period of maintenance.

In addition, safety information and know-how are shared across the Asahi Kasei Group through a group-wide plant engineering council with 4 specialist panels: Formulation of optimum systematic maintenance programs, establishment of standards and criteria, formulation of training systems for maintenance engineers, and sharing engineering information.

Training for maintenance

Maintenance training system

We believe that maintenance means creating the condition of equipment necessary to accomplish production objectives. Although we use a PDCA cycle for the planned maintenance system, people are the most fundamental element. It is vital for each individual to gain the essential technology and contribute to the strength of the team.

The Asahi Kasei Group launched a training program in fiscal 2009 to nurture the skills of maintenance personnel. We clarified the training principles for maintenance technicians, formulated a training curriculum for each individual based on these principles, and applied the PDCA cycle. Currently some 530 personnel are using this system to develop their skills.

In fiscal 2014 we launched a new web-based system leveraging the experience gained. The new system tracks all training progress in a database that enables more efficient data entry and easier preparation of materials for training audits. Beginning in fiscal 2015, applications for classroom work are made via the website, and results of certifications acquired are managed online.

Training for operational safety

At our petrochemical sites in Mizushima and Kawasaki, the Asahi Operation Academy (AOA) serves as the training center to cultivate the skills necessary to operate petrochemical plants. AOA teaches the principles and structures of equipment, heightening the ability to identify the cause of equipment failure and to respond appropriately. Miniature plants and simulators are used at AOA to provide hands-on experience with controls and instrumentation. Operators thereby gain the technical skills and practical understanding of chemical engineering necessary for safe and reliable plant operation, with the ability to respond appropriately in the event of any abnormality.

We carry out safety training exercises in which employees are given simulated experience of workplace dangers including being caught in/between machinery, contacting hazardous liquids, tripping and falling on the same level, suffering a burn, falling from height, etc. In conjunction, we provide education on human behavioral characteristics and accident case studies in order to instill greater sensitivity for safety among employees and obtain strict compliance to safety rules to avoid dangers.

AOA plant simulator training
AOA practical training for valve disassembly/assembly
AOA safety training (simulated experience of being sprayed with liquid)

Preparation for emergency situations

A comprehensive set of internal regulations guides the proper response to any industrial accidents or natural disasters which may occur.

The smooth operation of the emergency response system ensures that personal safety is secured, that effects of the situation are prevented from spreading to surrounding areas, and that damage is held to a minimum, through close communication between the plants, regional management, and the head office. The plants prepare annual plans for periodic training drills, and perform drills in coordination with the head office.

Joint emergency response training drill in Nobeoka
Tsunami evacuation drill in Nobeoka

Physical distribution safety

Training drill for physical distribution safety (premised on a nitric acid leak)

To prevent accidents in physical distribution, Asahi Kasei works closely with logistics providers contracted for storage, loading, unloading, and transportation to implement safety activities, which include physical distribution safety symposiums, safety liaison conferences, safety inspection, training, and many other safety measures. Furthermore, individual production sites hold joint training drills together with logistics providers to prepare for accidents that may occur and to ensure that damage from such accidents is minimized.

In January 2017, we signed an agreement with the Maritime Disaster Prevention Center and introduced HAZMATers (Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Service) to further strengthen the response capability in the case of an emergency. The engagement of HAZMATers makes a highly specialized emergency response available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring swift action to prevent the spread of damage if an accident occurs.