Around the world, we transport and store numerous products and materials. These include commercial chemicals and pharmaceuticals, raw materials, intermediates, and waste as well as technical materials and packaging, all of which could pose a hazard to health and the environment if handled incorrectly.
Our approach to safe transport and storage
All our shipments are to reach our customers and sites safely, undamaged and with the required safety information. Several of the materials we store and transport are classified as hazardous. The storage of such dangerous goods and the transport thereof – whether by road, rail, plane, or ship – are governed by regulations applicable worldwide. To minimize risks to people and the environment, we apply strict safety requirements across the Group that of course also comply with all applicable laws. We conduct regular reviews to ensure that our own warehouses as well as those of third parties comply with these regulations. In addition, we train our employees on warehouse and transport safety requirements.
How we achieve transport and warehouse safety
Overriding responsibility for transport and warehouse safety lies with our Group Environment, Health, Safety, Security, Quality (EQ) function (see Environmental stewardship), which defines the standards and guidelines applicable Group-wide. In addition, our individual sites are subject to national and international regulations governing environmental stewardship and public safety. At the local level, the respective site directors are responsible for ensuring compliance with all safety requirements.
Each of our sites around the world with logistics activities has an EHS manager and a dangerous goods manager, a position that equates to the Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor required by EU regulations. Both individuals advise the site director on the safe storage and transport of hazardous goods while also monitoring compliance with statutory requirements and our own internal standards.
Our EHS managers are also responsible for monitoring contract warehouses. Before signing a contract with a third-party warehouse operator, we assess whether they properly adhere to national and international storage and transport regulations and whether they can meet our additional requirements. We summarize the findings from this audit in an EHS report, which contains additional warehouse and storage requirements.
Our commitment: Internal standards and international rules
We have Group-wide standards in place that govern the safety levels for the storage of hazardous substances at our sites. Accompanied by standard operating procedures and best practices, these standards describe the technology and organizational infrastructure needed to achieve the appropriate safety levels.
Contract warehouses must also adhere to our strict safety requirements. Before we sign a contract with an operator, they must submit a statement detailing how they meet our prerequisites. Our Group-wide standards also define the technical and organizational requirements for such warehouses.
In Germany, the storage of packaged hazardous materials is governed by the Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances (“Storage of hazardous substances in non-stationary containers”, TRGS 510), which apply across all our warehouse and distribution centers Group-wide. A completely revised version of the TRGS was published at the beginning of 2021; the update was handled by the Committee on Hazardous Substances (AGS) with input from our company’s own experts.
Our Group Transport Safety Standard is based on the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Model Regulations. This guideline is especially important for sites in those countries with no local regulations covering the conveyance of hazardous materials.
All standards are reviewed either as needed or at a minimum every three years and updated to reflect current requirements. When changes are called for, we support our site directors in implementing the relevant modifications at the local level.
During the process of integrating Versum Materials and Intermolecular, we reviewed all relevant standards and made adjustments as necessary. We adopted the vast majority of the special requirements of Versum Materials and Intermolecular. Specifically, these pertained to the storage of gases and the evaluation of highly hazardous materials for transport.
Enhancing transport and warehouse safety
In addition to the inspections conducted by our EHS and dangerous goods managers, we regularly perform internal risk-based Group audits to ensure that our sites comply with warehouse and transport safety regulations. We generally conduct these audits every four years, performing them more frequently at sites that pose a potentially higher risk. If major shortcomings are identified, we re-audit the respective site the following year. Conversely, we may decide to extend the period between audits at facilities where, based on the findings from previous audits, we deem the potential risk to be low. Using a standardized checklist, our EHS managers verify whether contract warehouses meet our requirements. This inventory also helps us assess risks before entering into a business relationship with a third-party warehouse.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to perform all the audits we had planned for 2020. We audited two of our warehouse facilities to verify their compliance with Group-wide standards and also audited one contract warehouse.
We report transportation incidents and accidents in accordance with the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Model Regulations (7.1.9) in conjunction with the criteria of the Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR, 1.8.5.). There was no reportable incident during 2020.
Employee training and best-practice sharing
In line with their specific tasks and responsibilities, our employees undergo regular training that is conducted by either their respective supervisor or our EHS and dangerous goods managers. Topics include internal standards and procedures, changes to international requirements, and proper incident management.
Across the globe, we conduct around 1,000 internal and external seminars on transport and warehouse safety every year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only 60% of our seminars could took place. Many of these were rescheduled as webinars. The e-learning program we developed for hazardous material transport and storage is compulsory for logistics, EHS and dangerous goods managers. It features ten courses that we assign to the participants to complete.
Our dangerous goods managers hold regular conference calls to share their experiences and discuss current changes. All new EHS managers must complete EHStart-up!, a three-day onboarding seminar on environmental stewardship, safety and safe logistics. In 2020, we held this training online program through a series of webinars.
Ensuring proper transport
We primarily use logistics companies to deliver our products to customers. In Germany, we transport the majority of our hazardous waste ourselves. Furthermore, we participate in the German Transport Accident Reporting and Emergency Response System (TUIS) operated by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). Within this system, we share chemical transport expertise and best practices with experts from other chemical companies and also render hands-on assistance in the event of a chemical transportation accident. Our site fire departments in Darmstadt and Gernsheim collaborate closely with the fire departments in the region and provide specialized equipment to help in emergency situations.