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Safety
culture in
chemicals

Embracing the generational shift
to help enable safe production

One of the keys to improving safety is the creation of a more effective safety culture—one that emphasizes safety and production.

Chemical companies can create this type of culture by refocusing leadership, rethinking their approach to safety-related communications and leveraging new digital technologies. And, they must address the challenges inherent in the industry’s changing workforce demographics.

Ultimately, by building an effective safety culture, companies can not only reduce injuries, they can also strengthen production, increase operational agility and move ahead on their journey to high performance.

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Challenges
to safety

Increasingly sophisticated safety-related processes and technologies have been brought into chemical plants over time. Yet, safety improvements have been relatively stagnant.
Why?





Ineffective safety culture that relies heavily on the collective behavior and norms of employees who must follow correct procedures

Conflicting overall business culture in which meeting production targets takes precedence over completing work safely

Inconsistent messages from leadership, whereby their words promote safety as a core value but their actions emphasize and reward production performance

Impending retirement of baby boomers who will take their experience-based knowledge of operations and safety processes with them

Hiring of newcomers, particularly millennials, who have a different mindset about work than older workers and who need to quickly be brought up to speed on safety and operations

Digital
drives
safety

As the chemical industry undergoes a digital transformation, new technologies can play a vital role in fostering an effective safety culture. The biggest impact can be seen in three key areas.

Improved operations

In chemical plants, automation and the growing use of sensors and the Internet of Things are creating a vast amount of operational data. This data allows companies to implement mobile dashboards that show key safety and operational metrics.

Enhanced communications

Digital technology can enhance safety communications, particularly by engaging and motivating younger workers via text messaging, social media, gamification and other online/mobile applications.

Streamlined knowledge transfer

With the generational shift taking place in the chemical industry workforce, the transfer of operational knowledge is critical to safety. Technology can help in several ways from knowledge bases to inexpensive virtual- and augmented-reality systems.

Passing
the torch

As the predominant generation of chemical industry workers shifts from baby boomers to millennials, success depends on the ability to navigate through the challenges to safety.

While increased safety is an important end goal, instilling a sound safety culture is even more vital as it can have a positive and powerful ripple effect throughout the organization. Bringing leadership, communications and technology together can help chemical companies establish and sustain a “production and safety” mindset as their workforce evolves.

Meet the
Authors

Accenture’s chemicals practice is comprised of consultants with decades of global industry experience.

Pete Sullivan

Manager, Accenture Asset and Operations Services

Adam Cooper

Senior Manager, Accenture Asset and Operations Services

Anne Emberson

Senior Manager, Accenture Asset and Operations Services

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