Health & Safety

Health & Safety

"If we can't do it safely, we don't do it at all."

Borealis' longstanding goal of creating a culture of health and safety awareness and achieving zero accidents is encapsulated in the motto, "If we can't do it safely, we don't do it at all."

The Responsible Care® global charter sets the framework for ensuring excellence in the area of occupational health and safety at Borealis.

Health and safety experts in all Borealis locations deliver health and safety competence and expertise. They ensure standards are applied, develop risk management tools, share experience, ensure best practice development and train both Borealis employees and its contractors.

However Borealis' approach to safety goes beyond its operations to include safety issues in the office environment. Safety awareness campaigns also target travel and extracurricular sports.

Occupational Health & Safety

The challenge

Providing a safe working environment

Chemicals operations involve highly flammable and hazardous substances, therefore, at Borealis health and safety always come first. Since many years Borealis has achieved a world-class track record in health and safety, yet we always need to remain vigilant. To maintain a high top-of-mind status for safety culture, the company has created and constantly promotes the motto, "if we can't do it safely, we won't do it at all."

The approach

Targeting zero injuries through prevention

Borealis tracks the number of Total Recordable Injuries (TRI) per million working hours. Recordable injuries are those which require medical treatment, restrict work, or result in lost working hours. Both Borealis employees and contractors are tracked. A TRI frequency of 2 or less is considered world-class in the industry.

Borealis has set an ambitious TRI target of 1.1 and continuously works towards zero TRI.

Reference Projects/Activities

Near miss and incident reporting system

A near miss is an incident that under slightly different circumstances could have ended up in an accident. Borealis also tracks near-misses for both employees' and contractors' activities. This enables Borealis to early identify potential safety risks and to address them with tangible safety measures. Major incidents are discussed at various levels in the organisation and a central database, Synergi®, is used as a tool for reporting and accident learning analysis throughout Borealis.

Observation Tours - Commitment and Visibility

High management visibility and regular contact with employees and contractors is gained through periodic observation tours. Each year, around 15,000 such tours are performed throughout the company's departments, plants and office areas. The tours are designed to spot potential safety risks, promote dialogue between management and employees and encourage positive behaviour changes in daily work routines.

Contractors Health & Safety

Borealis is committed to providing a safe working environment for its employees and also its contractors. Contractors are involved in every aspect of its safety programme to ensure a good alignment, e.g. regular safety meetings, joint incident investigations and observation tours. After observing an increase in incidents among its contractors, Borealis initiated the Contractor Management (COMA) programme in 2012. COMA focuses specifically on improving their safety performance.

Borealis' "5 Life Saving Rules"

Borealis takes action to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for its employees and contractors.

A key component of the Borealis Life Saving Rules is the idea that each Borealis employee has a shared responsibility for others: 'care for my colleague' means encouraging employees to report incidents, actively participate in investigations and contribute to making Borealis operations safer for all.

Occupational Health

The challenge

Balancing life at work and at home

A holistic "Wellbeing" concept and approach has been developed during 2015 highlighting the co-responsibility of the company, leaders and employees and their representatives in establishing a work environment in which the Wellbeing of the employee is supported and enabled over the life-time of an employee's career with Borealis. This integrated and comprehensive approach towards the topic of Wellbeing focuses on the four core areas of Health, Job Engagement, Competence and Work & Private Life Balance, identifying and building on best practices available in the organisation and setting shared goals and minimum standards.

The approach

Success is best achieved by all

Borealis targets a sick leave rate of 3.2% or less which is below the average industry rate in the countries where Borealis operates. To achieve this, Borealis actively promotes healthy behaviour and has set in place an extensive employee health programme.

Borealis offers physical examinations and subsequent check-ups, periodic screenings and evaluations. Employees may participate in voluntary health counselling programmes to identify and monitor health problems. Detailed chemical exposure monitoring is carried out in accordance with demanding global standards.

Borealis also conducts a company-wide workplace health survey every five years to evaluate hazards in operations and office environments. Alongside the prevention of health and safety risks, occupational illnesses and accidents, the health surveys place considerable focus on the psycho-social aspects of the work and work-life balance.

Reference Projects

Take care – speak up!

This training campaign was launched at Borealis' Porvoo, Finland location in 2012 to improve line managers' skills in dealing with issues that may arise around employee well-being. Based on the feedback of the Borealis employee satisfaction workplace survey, the programme was developed by the Employee Well-Being Group in collaboration with an external training partner. Line managers have been trained in the fundamentals of constructive interaction and conflict reconciliation in training sessions involving both theory and practical exercises.

Getting older, working longer

The EU is the only major world region where the total population is projected to decline in the next 40 years - a significant shift in age demographics. In the coming years, Borealis will face a dual challenge: maintaining an effective and skilled workforce in the face of a reduced working population in the EU, whilst ensuring the health and motivation of an aging workforce. A task force documented existing initiatives, collected and analysed data from internal and external sources in order to create a proposal that included recommendations for future 55+ generations. It focuses on four key areas: health, job satisfaction, knowledge and work/social life balance.

Borealis in balance

At Borealis locations in Belgium, a programme was started to reduce sick leave and have healthy, motivated employees. The project was developed in cooperation with the Flemish Institute for Health Promotion and Sickness Prevention (ViGez). It promotes a healthy diet at work and home, and also encourages employees to undertake physical exercise at work, travelling from home to work and during leisure time. Employees were invited to take part in a voluntary physical fitness test, during which they received a personalised health improvement plan. To encourage healthy eating, actions included calorie details on food and drinks, increased availability of healthy meals and snacks, info sessions and workshops as well as informational flyers and leaflets. The physical condition improvement programme includes elements such as sports, "Bike to work" and "Start to run" campaigns, and follow-up fitness test evaluations.

Process Safety

The challenge

Prevention through process safety

Borealis' petrochemical operations handle large amounts of flammable materials under elevated pressure and temperatures. Therefore process safety is of prime importance to ensure the health and safety of Borealis' employees, neighbouring communities and the environment.

Leaks, fires and explosions can have a major impact on the on employees, their families, the community and the environment. Borealis therefore regards it as a moral duty to invest in the prevention of process safety incidents and ensure that the plants are properly designed, maintained and operated to avoid accidents.

The approach

Tools to prevent and protect

As a member of the European Process Safety Centre, Borealis actively supports industry-wide efforts to enhance process safety. A dedicated Process Safety department has developed special tools that enhance risk identification. With these tools, every process safety incident is investigated, reviewed and preventative actions are taken. The resulting actions are monitored at Borealis Group level. Borealis also conducts process safety training and safety management courses throughout the company. Safety audits known as 'Borealis Blue Audits' are currently being rolled out in the area of operations, plant availability and engineering and health and safety.

Goal Zero

To achieve its objective to record zero accidents, Borealis launched the Goal Zero programme in 2014. As Borealis employees are encouraged to see Goal Zero as a journey to be taken together, the programme helps establish a collective health and safety mindset. Focusing on enhancing the awareness of, competences in, and management of process safety risk, the programme was supplemented in 2015 by the creation of a process safety matrix for all key functions in the organisation. Several dedicated workshops and training sessions were carried out, and a safety awareness handbook was distributed among Borealis Leaders to help them enhance process safety performance.

Reference projects/activities

Borealis Blue Audits

Borealis conducts process safety training and safety management courses throughout the company. Safety audits known as Borealis Blue Audits are regularly completed in Operations, Plant Availability and Engineering, and Health and Safety. In 2015, four such audits were carried out: in Stenungsund, Linz, Antwerp and Rockport. In 2016, Borealis Blue Audits are scheduled for recently-acquired locations in France and Belgium.

Chemical Safety

Ensuring safe use and handling of chemicals throughout the entire life cycle

Borealis is committed to Responsible Care® and does not want its products to pose any risks to people nor to the environment at any stage of their life cycle. To ensure this, Borealis applies strict chemicals management rules and enforces high Product Stewardship standards.

A comprehensive Incoming Materials System is used to evaluate all materials used, produced or sold by Borealis. This system ensures that no substances are purchased before the Borealis Product Stewardship team has controlled and approved it. All substances are analysed, documented and archived in addition to performing a risk assessment. This way the composition of each and every product/substance is exactly known.

Going beyond regulatory compliance

Borealis is in full compliance with the Global Product Strategy initiative, the European Community Regulation on Chemicals (REACH) and strictly follows CLP  regulation requirements. Furthermore, the company ensures that all its hydrocarbon and polymer products are correctly classified, packed, and labeled according to regulations; supported with safety documents available for sales offices and customers and reported to the authorities according to regulations and legal requirements.

Where legally required, safety data sheets (SDS) are issued and accompany every outgoing product. These SDS are provided in the native language of the country where the material is being shipped and includes Exposure Scenarios that give information on risk management measures.

Borealis strives to ensure full information to its customers about the properties and the conditions of use for all its products, going beyond its legal obligation. Product Safety Information Sheets (PSIS) are also issued on all other products. Both SDS and PSIS are easily accessible on the Borealis website. This ensures the safe use of the chemical substance throughout its entire life cycle, from manufacturing to the disposal of the finished goods.

Polymers and raw materials, especially those used to manufacture food packaging, drinking water pipes and medical applications, are carefully studied for possible adverse health effects. Borealis' Product Stewardship team works to ensure that its products are in full compliance with the relevant restrictions for use and applicable for their intended use only. This includes substances that may affect people's health that are strictly regulated by authorities such as the European Union and United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Borealis has developed a hazardous chemicals strategy applying a precautionary, risk-based approach to certain substances and was one of the first chemical companies to publish a Banned Substances List.

For additional information please visit the Chemicals Safety section, check out the Q&A section or contact: