Locations / Sites

Sustainability Focus Areas

Goals 2021

  • Successful transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001
  • Further roll-out of virtual training on Life Saving Rules
  • Harmonise Borealis’ health, safety and environment (HSE) procedures with OMV’s HSE procedures
  • Ensure effective field leadership
  • Implement the Safety Boost programme and safety perception survey in the Fertilizers, Melamine and Technical Nitrogen Products (TEN) business

Key Achievements 2021

  • Achieved ISO 45001 certification without any non-conformities.
  • All planned modules of the game-learning training on the Life Saving Rules were rolled out.
  • Reporting requirements and HSE-related definitions have been aligned with OMV.
  • Senior leaders have trained local management on effective field leadership.
  • Fertilizers, Melamine and TEN has improved its safety performance by implementing local and Group initiatives.
  • A safety perception survey has been launched to measure how the business’s employees perceive, integrate and apply safety in relation to themselves and others, to enable an action plan for improvement in 2022 to be defined.


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 for the Group. In addition, process and occupational health & 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 location level, the local leadership and Health & Safety team meet each month to discuss health & safety performance. Every location also has an HSE Forum, 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 Fertilizers, Melamine and TEN, Health & Safety Network meetings are scheduled to share lessons and best practices, with attendees including all health & safety specialists at the locations and Group health & safety experts. The HSE managers’ network was introduced in 2021 to define the HSE strategy, establish improvement actions and share lessons learned. The network includes local HSE managers, the business’s Head of Health, Safety, Environment & Quality and Group HSE experts.

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. The HSE management system was certified to ISO 45001 during 2021.

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 must report hazards and hazardous situations and can do this via the Group’s incident management software.

Meetings, conferences and speeches in Borealis commonly start with awareness raising and sharing lessons learnt on health & safety, and is a mandatory topic for discussion at many meetings.

All levels of management at Borealis, from front-line leaders to Executive Board members, carry out regular engagement walks. These 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 gain 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 the emergency services.

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 & safety becomes “how we do business”. The Group has set itself a “Goal Zero” ambition that nobody should get hurt when working at Borealis and the aim is to have zero process safety incidents. 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 wellbeing 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, as well as providing on-site flu vaccinations. Employees 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 wellbeing concept that sets common standards across all locations, enables sharing of best practices and builds on existing activities. It takes a holistic view of wellbeing 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 the work-life balance.

Activities 2021

  • Protecting Employees from COVID-19: In 2021, preventing employees from becoming infected with COVID-19 remained a top priority. National regulations were always strictly followed and measures to protect against COVID-19 – such as social distancing, use of face masks, hand hygiene and working from home for those who can – remained in place. Some of the Group’s locations also provided COVID-19 vaccinations to employees, where this was feasible.
  • Achieving ISO 45001 Certification: Borealis received ISO 45001 certification after a successful
  • audit, without any non-conformities being identified. The ISO 45001 standard helps to further improve the Group’s occupational health & safety performance and demonstrates its commitment to safety.
  • Safety Training: Two new virtual training modules on the Life Saving Rules were rolled out across the entire organisation. These modules are based on game-learning, which increases knowledge retention compared to standard classroom training thanks to its interactivity and enjoyable elements. E-learning was also a good alternative to classroom training, which could not take place due to COVID-19 restrictions. In addition, senior leaders trained local management on effective field leadership.
  • Group-wide Safety Day: The fourth Group-wide Safety Day was held in all locations under the banner “Safer Together”.
  • Enhancing Safety in Fertilizers, Melamine and TEN: In the Fertilizers, Melamine and TEN organisation, a safety boost programme was launched to improve performance by implementing local and Group initiatives. More than 60 initiatives have been created to reinforce the safety skills and mindset of employees. In addition, a safety perception survey has been launched to assess the business’s safety culture and to define an action plan for improvement in 2022.

Performance 2021

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 the work an employee is able to do or result in lost working days. Both Borealis’ employees and contractors are tracked.

From 2021 onwards, Borealis adopted OMV’s TRI criteria, which are based on the reporting guidelines from IOGP (International Association of Oil & Gas Producers). These criteria are more stringent than those Borealis previously used and would now, for example, classify an injury which requires only one stitch or results in a lost working day without any medical treatment as a TRI. This has resulted in higher TRI figures for 2021 compared to previous years, which are calculated under the former methodology.

Borealis has set an ambitious target of a TRI of 1.3 or less and continuously works towards zero TRI.

The TRI criteria were changed in 2021 to bring them in line with OMV’s Health, Safety, Security and Environmental (HSSE) incident classification and reporting, based on the standards by the International Organisation of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). When the TRI rate for 2020 is also calculated according to the new criteria, the following comparison can be made: the overall Borealis’ TRI rate was 2.3 in 2021, compared with 3.9 in 2020. The TRI rate for Borealis’ employees was 2.3 against 3.8 in 2020, while that of its contractors was 2.2 compared to 4.2 in 2020.

In Fertilizers, Melamine and TEN, a major turnaround was performed in Grand Quevilly, France, without any serious accident classified as a TRI.

Data analysis showed that hands and fingers remain the main body parts harmed in accidents and that the most frequent incidents (13 out of 46) are slips, trips and falls.

Part of the body harmed between 2019 and 2021 1)

1) Analysis of 1,260 injuries between 2019 and 2021

The sick leave rate is another important occupational health indicator. In 2021, the sick leave rate was 3.7% compared to 3.6% in 2020.

Health & Safety performance indicators 2017–2021 1)

1) Suppliers of raw materials, chemicals, additives and other commodities and hauliers are excluded from the TRI statistics; Ecoplast Kunststoffrecycling GmbH, 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; DYM Solution Co., Ltd. is excluded from all KPIs. // 2) Definitions have been adjusted in 2021 to be aligned with OMV definitions. A comparison to previous years is therefore not possible


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 TRI criteria have been aligned with OMV Group and therefor have become stricter since this year: now this also includes, for example, an accident which resulted in a single lost day of work without any medical treatment, or an incident which resulted in an employee requiring a single stitch. The rate 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.

High-consequence work-related injuries: High-consequence work-related injuries are split between:

  • Fatalities
  • Other injuries from which the worker cannot recover (e.g. amputation of a limb), or does not or is not expected to recover fully to pre-injury health status within six months (e.g. fracture with complications)

The definition of high-consequence work-related injury uses recovery time instead of lost time as the criterion for determining the severity of an injury. Lost time is an indicator of the loss of productivity for an organisation as a result of a work-related injury; it does not necessarily indicate the extent of harm suffered by a worker. Recovery time, in contrast, refers to the time needed for a worker to recover fully to pre-injury health status.

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.


Occupational health & safety remains the number one priority for Borealis and for 2022 the Group has identified seven primary focus areas. These are to:

  • continue to align Group HSE procedures and processes with OMV;
  • improve contractor HSE performance;
  • evaluate and update the Life Saving Rules;
  • develop and roll out HSE training;
  • provide refresher training in social psychology for frontline leaders;
  • roll out the cloud version of the incident management database that Borealis uses across Polyolefins and Hydrocarbons & Energy, to align with OMV; and
  • maintain a high focus on COVID-19, in order to protect employees from infection and ensure business continuity.

Combined Annual Report 2021 (PDF)

English and German Version available

Download full version

This online report contains only highlights and excerpts from Borealis’ Combined Annual Report 2021. 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 2021. A copy of the Combined Annual Report 2021 can be downloaded here.