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Pushing for progress on safety

Umicore’s Rechargeable Battery Materials business unit has transformed its approach to safety. Its impressive results are serving as an excellent example throughout Umicore.

In 2012, the business unit’s operation in Korea experienced six lost time accidents (LTAs). This was attributed to the unit’s rapid expansion in the region. Existing safety programmes had not kept up and this prompted a deep re-think by management.

It was decided that a broader approach was needed. The business unit developed its own safety programme that was designed to continuously increase “Awareness, Competence, Compliance and Excellence”. It became known as ACCE. The programme was launched later that year, accompanied by a high-visibility campaign.

“One of the goals of our Horizon 2020 strategy is zero lost time accidents. This is non-negotiable. I think the reason ACCE is so successful is its focus on people. This is an excellent example for our whole organisation.” - Bert Swennen, Group Director Health & Safety

One of ACCE’s main features was its adaptability. Rechargeable Battery Materials had operations in Korea, Japan and China – all with different cultures. Another feature was a focus on the workfloor: discussing safety behaviour and awareness, helping people learn, and engaging with them to improve. In addition, safety investment went towards training, equipment and processes, and systems to track risks and improvements. To measure progress, annual safety targets were set and monitored via a detailed follow-up system.

The entire business unit has now gone more than 1,200 days without an LTA, a great achievement. With the business set to grow even faster in the coming years, the strength of the ACCE methodology and its adaptability to operations of an even larger dimension will be tested. The goal is to get people even more engaged. Ultimately, making Umicore a safe workplace is a collective responsibility and requires the engagement, caring attitude and attention to detail of every individual.