Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Who Owns Safety at Air Products?

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Who Owns Safety at Air Products?

Article excerpt

Cultivating employee ownership of environmental, health and safety performance puts this global giant on the path toward zero injuries.

We can't be satisfied until every employee, in every job, is safe, every day. We can't be satisfied until toxic and hazardous material emissions, even if permitted by regulation, are a thing of the past."

H.A. Wagner, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., the $5 billion global industrial gas and chemical company, voices support of goals that any safety and environmental professional would be thrilled to hear from his CEO.

And Air Products appears to have put the programs and resources in place to reach its goal of being an industry leader in safety, health and environment. Last year, a team of industry. and public observers completed a Management Systems Verification (MSV) of Air Products' efforts to implement Responsible Care, the chemical industry's program to promote the safe manufacture and use of chemicals.

What it found was a company that puts a premium on employee involvement and proactive management systems to prevent harm to workers and the environment. The MSV resulted in Air Products being cited for excellence in six practices it employs at its plants.

Gene Ervin, corporate director, Environment, Health and Safety for Air Products, told Occupational Hazards that the company strives for EHS leadership in part because it is "ethically the right thing to do." But, in addition, he noted, "Our senior management believes that excellence in one area drives excellence in multiple areas."

Air Products employs a variety of programs as it seeks continual improvement in its safety and environmental record. The company has a sophisticated system for assessing process hazards. The company looks at potential hazards at both the early and closing stages of designing processes. Then it conducts an operational readiness inspection to make sure that a new process can be operated safely before it is put on line. The company also conducts safety reviews of processes on a periodic basis, and whenever it experiences a change.

The company also employs an "Accident Predictive Technique," which Ervin calls the "first step in the sequence of identifying and recording incidents." While Air Products tracks and analyzes near-misses, the APT process is designed to go one step beyond that by having employees identify, document and correct potentially unsafe acts and conditions. …

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