Management System Initiatives to Prevent Major Accidents Accidents and Occupational Injuries Training Drills

Initiatives to Prevent Major Accidents

Based on our management policy of putting safety is our top priority in everything that we do, we have continued to implement a range of safety activities throughout the Mitsui Chemicals Group. Nevertheless, the explosion and fire occurred at the resorcinol production facility inside our Iwakuni-Ohtake Works in 2012. We take this latest incident very seriously and will strive to prevent any future recurrence. Reflecting on that incident, we have been implementing a series of initiatives to prevent major accidents such as fundamental safety measures to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again.

Top Management’s Strong Commitment to Safety and Prevention

On Safety Day and during National Safety Week, etc., the Company president repeatedly conveys to all Mitsui Chemicals Group employees that they follow the management policy of "making safety their top priority in everything they do." In addition, we are working to ensure active involvement with worksites that includes the Vice President, Senior Managing Executive Officer and the Center Executive of the Production & Technology Center by conducting tours of the parent company works and each production sites of domestic and overseas affiliates. The fiscal 2019 results are as follows.

  • Instructions to make safety the top priority provided directly to employees at Head Office during the opening address (simultaneously broadcast to all domestic sites)
  • Broadcasting the President’s safety day moral discourse across the Group as a whole, and pledge to make safety the top priority published in Company newsletter
  • Communicated safety instructions directly to employees at Head Office on Safety Day (simultaneously broadcast to all domestic sites)
  • Broadcasting the President’s National Safety Week message across the Group as a whole
  • Direct safety instructions provided during Works visits (control room, auditorium, etc.)
  • The Company newsletter featured a dialogue on safety between the president and Mr. Atsumi Miyake, Professor of Yokohama National University and Vice President of Japan Society for Safety Engineering

Fundamental Safety Measures

Mitsui Chemicals takes extremely seriously the explosion and fire at the resorcinol production facility at its Iwakuni-Ohtake Works on April 22, 2012. For these seven years, we have been introducing a series of fundamental safety measures, reviewing and improving comprehensive safety and prevention at a company-wide level. A number of measures that have been developed after exhaustive discussions are now incorporated into our daily activities, and continuous safety improvements are being made by repeating the PDCA cycle in our daily tasks. While carefully weighing the priorities against each other in implementing these fundamental safety measures to raise safety levels, we will continue to introduce more initiatives in the years ahead.

Overview of Efforts Aimed at Advancing Fundamental Safety Measures

From the beginning of 2013, we built up the fundamental safety measures shown in overview in the chart below and conducted them on a Group-wide basis.

Key Points of the Fundamental Safety Measures

  • The steering committee*1, which reports directly to the president, deliberates Group-wide issues and sets the direction for activities
  • Management spearheads the participation in safety initiatives through active dialogue owing to greater opportunities for Head Office personnel to visit plants
  • Issues pointed out by external experts and other third parties are reflected in plant operations
  • General managers of Works give safety talks, while cross-sectional safety inspections are performed by safety advisors*2
  • Meetings among foremen organized by managers help to enhance communication

*1Steering committee:
To make swift progress of fundamental safety measures, the members shown in the diagram meet to discuss Group-wide issues and set the direction of activities.

*2Safety advisors:
Veteran employees involved in daily activities and improving the overall level of safety at plants by exchanging opinions with workers.

Progress with Fundamental Safety Measures

Addressing three important challenges and involving the deployment of 11 measures, the fundamental safety measures are used to advance concrete efforts throughout the company. Many of the measures have moved forward to the point where they are now positioned as everyday tasks. In fiscal 2019, following the fire that occurred in the Mobara Branch Factory in 2017 and the resulting recurrence prevention measures, we have been working on building a system that can incorporate advances in safety technologies, and since fiscal 2018 we have been reviewing the technology assessment system. Following the chimney fire that occurred during periodic repairs at the Osaka Plant in 2018, we are reviewing our engineering work management system. We will provide production line managers with a revised training program that incorporates the lessons learned from these incidents.

Progress with Fundamental Safety Measures
Three important challenges, 11 measures Implementation schedule (fiscal year)
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
(1) Allow line managers to focus on and properly manage worksites
Reduce the workload of line managers On an ongoing basis          
Train line managers On an ongoing basis   Strengthen
(2) Improve technical skills and ensure skills are passed down (clarify rights & responsibilities)
Train engineering staff with situational awareness On an ongoing basis        
Build safety technology systems On an ongoing basis   Strengthen
Review technical assessment systems and structures On an ongoing basis     Strengthen On an ongoing basis
(3) Ensure safety is the top priority, cultivate professionalism, and give workers a sense of accomplishment
Reorganize/boost functions of Safety & Environment Division On an ongoing basis     Strengthen
Reinforce safety as a top priority(strict adherence to basics, diagnosis)
Cultivate and bolster professionalism (Completely update manuals and draft supplementary materials) On an ongoing basis  
Improve teamwork and communications within organizations On an ongoing basis      
Establish attractive senior positions (Human Resources Committee, etc.) On an ongoing basis          
Measures to give workers a sense of accomplishment in safety performance and operations On an ongoing basis          

Thorough Risk Assessments

Mitsui Chemicals applies the HAZOP*1 to assess safety in the building, expansion, and refurbishment of facilities and to identify dangers in plants as a means of eliminating the possibility of accidents. Learning the lessons from the resorcinol production facility explosion and fire at the Iwakuni-Ohtake Works, we expanded to include non-routine operations at Works. In addition, the Company has been conducting non-routine risk assessments on a continuous and constructive basis. The Company will continue to undertake thorough risk assessments.

Fostering HAZOP Leaders

The role of the HAZOP leader, who is the leader of the analysis, is an important one. To foster HAZOP leaders at the Company, since fiscal 2013 we have been holding training sessions for manufacturing workplace staff and others for them to learn more about analysis methods and investigation concepts at each Works. We will plan to periodically hold these training sessions to foster HAZOP leaders and to improve the level of HAZOP.

Measures to Non-routine Risk Assessment

From fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014, based on the inspection procedures established during emergency shutdowns by operating model plants at all Works on a trial basis, the Inspection Group organized at each Works conducted inspections of emergency shutdown procedures at all plants. Finally, Head Office staff conducted follow-ups on the inspection results for each Works.

From fiscal 2014, the Company conducted verifications of the assessment methods, for which both “What if*2” and batch HAZOP were utilized, at several model plants. Then, in fiscal 2015, at the Osaka Works and Ichihara Works, we began risk assessments related to the non-routine operation “startup” and applied to all Works and in fiscal 2016. We continue these procedures to all Works in fiscal 2020.

Hazard and Operability Studies. A method to formulate safety measures by seeking any possible deviation from normal operations, and analyzing the cause of such deviation and its possible impact.

A method to formulate safety measures by repeating “What if…” questions to explore possible incidents and their impact.

Safety Culture Assessment

The Mitsui Chemicals Group is collaborating with Niigata University and the Graduate School of System Design and Management at Keio University to undertake safety culture assessment, which enable the visualization of a workplace’s strengths and weaknesses. By repeated in-house discussions on all rank-specific gaps, the assessment can also be used as a tool to improve workplace communications.
The second safety culture assessment took place in the Osaka Works and Omuta Works in fiscal 2019. All the five Works have finished the second safety culture assessment. The assessment were useful to discover the results of the workplace safety promotion activities and environmental changes around the workplaces over the past four years. One affiliate company was subject to the second assessment.
The assessment results were found to be useful in helping employees to become aware of the safety culture operating in their workplaces, and we continue to utilize this assessment.

Briefing at Omuta Works
Briefing at Omuta Works

Status of Undertaking Safety Culture Assessment

Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.
  ~FY2018 FY2019
Ichihara Works* ●●  
Mobara Branch Factory*
Nagoya Works* ●●  
Osaka Works*
Iwakuni-Ohtake Works* ●●  
Omuta Works*

*Including subsidiaries and affiliates within factory premises where the parent company works manager bears the responsibility for Responsible Care implementation.

Subsidiaries & Affiliates
  ~FY2018 FY2019
  • Toyo Beauty Supply Corporation
  • Sun Alloys Co., Ltd.
  • Sunrex Industry Co., Ltd.
  • Mitsui Chemicals & SKC Polyurethanes Inc., Tokuyama Factory
  • Utsunomiya Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. Utsunomiya Factory, Funaoka Factory, Shinshiro Factory, Tosu Factory
  • Shimonoseki Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.
  • Yamamoto Chamicals Inc. Yao Plant, Omuta Plant
  • Mitsui Chemicals Industrial Products Ltd., Saitama Factory
  • Honshu Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., Wakayama Works
  • Mitsui Chemicals Sun Alloys Co., Ltd.
  • Mitsui Hygiene Materials (Thailand) Co., Ltd.
  • Mitsui Chemicals Nonwovens (Tianjin) Co., Ltd.

Receipt of Third-party Assessments of Process Safety Capability

On an ongoing basis, the Mitsui Chemicals Group receives process safety capability assessments from the Japan Safety Competency Center. Aimed primarily at manufacturing industries dealing with petroleum and petrochemical products, the assessments cover security from the viewpoint of safety infrastructure and safety culture and enable the visualization of strengths and weaknesses with regard to safety capability by means of numerical values. Through its process safety capability assessments, the Japan Safety Competency Center is aiming to raise the safety level of the Japanese chemical industry, a purpose with which the Company is in full agreement.
Following on from the Osaka Works and the Ichihara Works, in April 2018 the Iwakuni-Ohtake Works conducted a self-assessment of its safety capability and then underwent an evaluation by the Japan Safety Competency Center. Osaka Works will undergo an evaluation in the future.
We will continue to utilize advice from the Japan Safety Competency Center, a third party, in our future safety and process safety activities.

Assessment result report meeting (Iwakuni-Ohtake Works)
Assessment result report meeting (Iwakuni-Ohtake Works)

Measures to Boost Seismic Resistance of Existing High-pressure Gas Facilities

In response to a notification issued by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in May 2014, the Company has almost finished an assessment of the seismic resistance of its existing high-pressure gas facilities. Based on the results of the assessment, the Company has formulated a repair plan and is systematically undertaking seismic enhancement work.

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