Locations / Sites

Sustainability Focus Areas


Borealis had the following occupational health and safety goals for 2020:

  • to continue to reduce Total Recordable Injuries (TRI), with the ultimate aim of achieving zero accidents;
  • to protect employees and contractors against COVID-19; and
  • to prepare all OHSAS certified locations to switch to ISO 45001.

Key Achievements and Results

In 2020, Borealis:

  • reached a TRI rate of 1.7 incidents per million working hours, up from 1.6 in 2019;
  • immediately took all necessary precautions to protect its employees and contractors against COVID-19;
  • held its third Group-wide Safety Day in all locations; and
  • updated all relevant processes and procedures to make them compliant to ISO 45001.


Chemical operations involve highly flammable, toxic and hazardous substances that could pose a significant risk to Borealis’ employees and neighbours, if not handled correctly. Health & Safety is therefore one of the key focus areas in the Borealis Sustainability Strategy and the number one priority at Borealis. In addition, process and occupational health and safety incidents have a direct link to lost working time and damage to valuable assets, both of which could affect the Group’s ability to supply its customers, and its profitability and performance. Borealis therefore lives by the slogan “If we can’t do it safely, we don’t do it at all!” Everyone at Borealis is expected to stop working, or not to start working in the first place, if the situation is unsafe.

Organisational Structure

At a location level, the local leadership and Health & Safety team meet each month to discuss Health & Safety performance. Every location also has an HSE Forume (health, safety, environment), where employee representatives are consulted and informed about the HSE management system (see below). The HSE Forum also promotes worker participation in occupational Health & Safety. A number of informal platforms and meetings ensure that all employees of operational sites are represented.

In Fertilizer, Melamine and Technical Nitrogen Products (TEN), regular Health & Safety Network meetings are scheduled, including all health and safety specialists at the locations and Group Health & Safety experts, to share lessons and best practices.

Preventing Occupational Health & Safety Incidents

Borealis proactively prevents accidents by developing risk management tools, implementing controls, undertaking awareness campaigns and safety training, and conducting regular audits for both employees and contractors. The Group is committed to eliminating hazards and reducing occupational Health & Safety risks, and continuously improves through systematic learning.

The Group has an HSE management system, which is designed to reduce the possibility of incidents in the workplace by ensuring that hazards are systematically eliminated or controlled. The system covers occupational Health & Safety, process safety, environment and energy as well as some aspects of security. It applies to all businesses where Borealis owns more than 50% or where the Group has operating responsibility. In some locations, the management system is certified to OSHAS 18001 and transition to ISO 45001 is ongoing.

Borealis uses risk assessments to identify hazards, assess the risk and take necessary measures to reduce it. These risk assessments are done before any work is carried out on a project or changes are made to an installation. Everyone is encouraged to report hazards and hazardous situations and can do this via the Group’s incident management software.

Interal employee forum, conferences, speeches and meetings in Borealis commonly start with awareness raising and sharing lessons learnt on health and safety and it is a mandatory topic for discussion at many meetings. In addition, at every Corporate Co-operation Council (CCC) meeting, health and safety issues are a standard agenda point.

All levels of management at Borealis, from front-line leaders to Executive Board members, carry out regular so called engagement walks. They ensure dialogue occurs between management, employees and contractors. The walks are designed to spot safety risks and encourage positive changes in daily work routines.

In addition to safety training for all employees and contractors, all visitors to Borealis’ locations must pass safety training before they get access to the site. Some Borealis sites also organise an annual meeting with their neighbours, where safety performance and initiatives are discussed. Borealis also coordinates emergency planning with external medical and public health experts, and implements detailed exposure controls as part of its corporate standards.

Borealis aims to develop its Health & Safety culture from a calculative level (where safety is based on having systems in place to manage hazards) via a more proactive level (where safety leadership and values drive continuous improvement) towards a generative level, where health and safety becomes “how we do business”. The Group has set itself a “Goal Zero” ambition. Effective field leadership is a key enabler of this. In addition, 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 safer for all.

Promoting Employees’ Health and Well-being

Borealis promotes and protects its employees’ health and well-being in several ways. In addition to detailed chemical exposure monitoring, which is carried out in accordance with national laws, the Group offers physical examinations and subsequent check-ups, periodic screenings and evaluations. Employee health initiatives vary depending on local needs, but they typically include addressing issues such as back pain, blood pressure and weight management. Employees can receive on-site flu vaccinations, learn about stress prevention, find help to quit smoking and can consult a psychologist. Borealis also encourages healthy eating by providing fresh fruit and healthy meals in many locations.

Employees may also take part in voluntary health counselling programmes to identify and monitor health problems.

Training packages are available to raise employees’ competence in areas such as social psychology, office ergonomics, musculoskeletal disorders and use of hydraulic tools.

In addition, Borealis’ has developed a well-being concept that sets common standards across all locations, enables sharing of best practices and builds on existing activities. It takes a holistic view of well-being and identifies four key areas for ensuring motivated and healthy employees. These are health, job engagement, competence and work-life balance.

Borealis conducts regular workplace health surveys, which cover every location in the Group every five years. These surveys identify, evaluate and document the current standard of the working environment in both operations and offices to establish a base for further improvement and to prioritise an action plan. Their primary focus is to prevent occupational health risks, occupational illnesses and accidents. The health surveys also put a considerable focus on the psychosocial aspects of work and work-life balance.

Activities 2020

In 2020, preventing employees from becoming infected with COVID-19 was a top priority. A special Group-wide “COVID-19 crisis team" was implemented at the start of the pandemic to monitor the ongoing situation and decide on the actions needed. The pandemic demanded a quick and thorough response. This included introducing working from home for those who can, issuing specific guidelines based on the World Health Organisation recommendations and creating a microsite to bundle together all the information and guidelines regarding COVID-19. Measures to protect against COVID-19, such as social distancing and hand hygiene, were implemented in all locations. Plexiglas screens were installed as a barrier on counters and some locations installed fever checks at the entrance as an additional precaution. In addition, Borealis provided face masks to all employees and took country-specific regulations into account.

In addition to responding to COVID-19, one of the important activities in the year was preparing for ISO 45001 certification next year by updating all relevant processes and procedures to make them compliant to ISO 45001.

Finally, the third Group-wide Safety Day was held in all locations under the banner “Safety is in our hands”. The Borealis Safety Day reflected on the Group’s COVID-19 response and discussed the fact that hands are our most important tools and that all of us are responsible for our own safety.

Performance 2020

Total recordable Injuries (TRI) per million working hours has been a Borealis Group Scorecard KPI for many years. TRI are those that require medical treatment, restrict work or result in lost working hours. Both Borealis’ employees and contractors are tracked. A TRI frequency of two or less is considered world class in the industry.

Borealis has set an ambitious target of a TRI of 1.1 or less and continuously works towards zero TRI. Although Borealis’ safety performance significantly improved in the first few months of the year, with a TRI of 0.9 to the end of May 2020, there was subsequently a disappointing increase in safety incidents. Unfortunately, there was one serious incident in 2020 when an operator was severely burned due to a pipe rupture in our operation in Linz, Austria. There were also a number of trips, falls and other incidents leading to injuries. In response, the Group set up a senior team to assess the causes of the change in safety performance and to ensure the business refocuses on the basics of safety and reliability.

Videos and other communications from CEO Alfred Stern have also strongly reinforced the message to everyone in Borealis about the importance of safety and the commitment to Goal Zero. Each member of the Executive Board has made a personal commitment to safety and all teams throughout the Group have been required to make a similar commitment to ensure Borealis achieves the necessary sustainable improvement in safety and reliability.

Overall, Borealis’ TRI was 1.7 in 2020, compared with 1.6 in 2019. The TRI frequency for Borealis’ employees was 1.8 against 1.3 in 2019, while that of its contractors was 1.3 compared to 2.6 in 2019.

Data analysis showed that hands and fingers remain the main body parts harmed in accidents.

Part of the body harmed between 2018 and 2020 *)

*) Analysis of 1,095 injuries between 2018 and 2020

The sick leave rate is another important occupational health indicator. Borealis has a target of 3.2% or less, which is below the industry average in countries where the Group operates. In 2020, the sick leave rate was 3.6% compared to 3.4% in 2019.

Health & Safety and process safety performance indicators 2016–2020 *)

*) Suppliers of raw materials, chemicals, additives and other commodities and hauliers are excluded from the TRI statistics; mtm plastics GmbH and mtm compact GmbH are excluded from the sick leave rate, incident action completion rate and response rate on process safety incidents; Ecoplast Kunststoffrecycling GmbH and DYM Solution Co., Ltd. are excluded from all KPIs


Total Recordable Injuries (TRI): Accidents resulting in absence from work, the need to do a different type of work or any other case in which medical treatment is required. The frequency is calculated as the number of accidents per million working hours. Borealis’ employees and contractors working on the Group’s premises are included in this calculation.

Sick leave rate: The sick leave rate indicates the amount of time employees were absent from work due to sickness or injury. The overall sick leave rate is calculated as a percentage of the total number of planned working days in the current year.

Incident action completion rate: This monitoring parameter focuses on completing actions within the required time. It is calculated on a monthly basis and looks at the actions due in previous months for all incidents reported, regardless of their consequences, with a risk factor ≥8. The parameter represents the percentage of actions finalised in due time. The incident action completion rate includes all incidents reported on the incident management module including HSE, Quality and Operational incidents.

Response rate of process safety incidents: Process safety incidents of a certain severity or risk potential are recorded and investigated through root cause analysis. Corrective actions are de ned to prevent re-occurrence. The response rate of process safety incidents is measured as the ratio (%) of corrective actions completed within a de ned time period.

High-severity accidents: are accidents with significant consequences rated above 300 in Borealis’ severity rating tool. One high-severity accident was reported in 2020.

Medium-severity accidents: are those resulting in a loss of containment, with medium consequences towards people, planet and pro t. There were 11 medium-severity accidents reported in 2020, thereby maintaining the same level as in 2019.


Occupational Health & Safety remains the number one priority for Borealis and for 2021 the Group has identified four primary focus areas. These are to:

  • maintain the focus on the Goal Zero journey, with a focus on the Life Saving Rules, engagement walks and cross-learning from incidents;
  • provide refresher training in social psychology for front-line leaders;
  • ensure that by 2021, the Hydrocarbons & Energy and Polyolefin businesses meet the new ISO 45001 international standard for occupational health and safety management systems;
  • roll-out a programme to further enhance health and safety in Fertilizer, Melamine and TEN; and
  • maintain a high focus on COVID-19, in order to protect employees from infection and ensure business continuity.

Combined Annual Report 2020 (PDF)

English and German Version available

Download full version

This online report contains only highlights and excerpts from Borealis’ Combined Annual Report 2020. Only the entire report is legally binding and it must be read in full to gain a comprehensive understanding of Borealis’ performance and activities in 2020. A copy of the Combined Annual Report 2020 can be downloaded here.