Occupational health and safety
Elkem does not accept that injuries or illnesses are unavoidable facts in our industry. Full understanding of health and safety risks and challenges have high priority at all plants. Elkem's statistics clearly show that it is possible to run difficult and potentially dangerous operations with a large work force without injuries. Several of our plants have achieved this for a number of years in succession. The status of Elkem’s safety work is discussed every week at division and group management level.
However, Elkem’s production processes also have a number of health challenges that are managed daily in Elkem’s organisation. The main exposures that may lead to occupational diseases are:
- Exposure to quartz dust in mining, transportation and storage of quartz, and exposure to SiO2 dust in smelting halls that may cause lung diseases.
- Exposure to PAH components in carbon paste production that may cause cancer.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals in chemical processes to produce siloxane and silicone products.
- Exposure to noise.
- Exposure to ergonomic challenges that may give long-term musculoskeletal damage.
All of these exposures are carefully managed at each applicable site with containment, work and work station adjustment, and, when necessary, personal protection equipment that is provided free of charge to all employees. Many initiatives have also been implemented through the years to reduce exposure by reducing/ eliminating sources of dust and noise, and substitution of hazardous substances in the production process.
Employees who are exposed for hazardous dust, chemicals and noise are also subject to extended medical follow-up. A medical examination sets a baseline for their health condition when hired, and routine medical examinations follow-up that this does not change over time.
Elkem measures injury severity based on the short and long-term effect the injury has on the injured person’s health and capabilities. We use OSHA’s definition of recordable injuries for reporting and define Lost Workday injuries as H1, and Medical Treatment / Restricted Work injuries as H2.
In 2019 we reached the second best total recordable injury rate (H1+H2) in Elkem’s history with 2.2 injuries per million working hours, similar to 2018. Our best result was in 2015 with 1.8. Part of this positive development is due to our growth with a high increase in the number of working hours, but we also see a very good improvement in the number of recordable injuries for own employees.
Total recordable injury rate:
In Elkem, injury severity is tracked as low, medium and high severity. Low severity injuries give no permanent damage and have a short recovery time, medium severity injuries may have a longer recovery period, but no substantial permanent damage, while high severity injuries give substantial permanent damage or worst case, causes death.
We strive every day towards our goal of zero accidents. Regretfully, the Xinghuo plant in China had a fatality in February 2019.
The incident has been thoroughly investigated and corrective
actions have been implemented. The event was a tragic reminder
that health and safety must remain our number one priority
Occupational disease rate
For the past four years there has been very few reports of possible occupational illnesses. Most of these are low-key ergonomic issues concerning strain and pain. There have also been several reports of possible lung disease in connection with dust exposure, but none have been fully documented as work related. All of these have been in Europe.