February 4, 2020
For 13 years, SOCMA has honored companies that are leading in the areas of environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S). And in 2019, the association implemented a refreshed judging criteria for its Performance
Improvement Awards. Twenty-nine facilities achieved this impressive standard. The awards were presented during SOCMA Week in New Orleans.
The top honor – the Gold Award – is given each year to only one or two facilities. These facilities must be in the Excellence Tier, which means they excel in all five of the ChemStewards Core Principles.
This year, two facilities were recognized for their commitment to excellence and their determination to exceed industry standards and strengthen their EHS&S programs – Nation Ford Chemical and VanDeMark Chemical.
Nation Ford Chemical received the Gold Award for the second consecutive year by demonstrating their commitment to success by investing more than $1 million in a new 2,500-square-foot Employee Training Facility to improve the functionality of safety training. Nation Ford also conducts communications meetings with key stakeholders that have led to zero incidents and no OSHA recordable rates in 2019. Judges were impressed that Nation Ford’s technical staff spent 100 manhours creating a database to catalog prevalent EHS&S regulations and classification of all chemicals at the facility. Nation Ford also installed an industry-leading emergency containment system between its operations and the nearby river that resulted from a non-required plant study on “What-Ifs” concerning catastrophic releases from events such as tornadoes.
Key highlights of Nation Ford’s safety program:
• Award winning EHS&S program, well-trained workforce, stellar environmental record
• 2-time Gold award winner, 9-time Silver winner since 2009
• 98% reduction of recordable rate in 10 years
• Safety first both inside the plant with employees and outside of the plant
• Positive employee rewards for safety suggestions
• 100% transition to leading indicator tracking
• Annual health and safety day, plant shutdown
• Nation Ford considers ALL ChemStewards Core Principles when developing its robust safety program
• Buy in from all employees is key to Nation Ford’s successful safety program
VanDeMark Chemical received its first-ever Gold Performance Improvement Award in 2019. Exceptional stakeholder communication and a commitment to a strong safety culture are among the outstanding EHS&S efforts that wowed the judges. A crucial part of stakeholder communication is the company’s interaction with community groups, providing critical information on a routine basis. Underpinning the company’s strong safety culture, VanDeMark has a Stop/Call/Wait policy, where employees are encouraged to stop operations for any concern. The company also has an incentive-based program that targets leading indicator as a mechanism to drive 100 percent compliance on key safety procedures.
Key highlights of VanDeMark’s successful program include:
• Development of a community advisory panel where employees and the community work together to resolve issues
• Holding Community Awareness Day, an open house where stakeholders canvisit and experience life inside the facility
• Providing technical bulletins beyond basic HazCom that display a risk matrix to help employees identify and develop targets for emphasis
• Introduction of a robust stage gate process for all new chemicals, including testing and a stage gate checklist
• Implementing KPIs focused on leading indicator performance that are linked to an employee incentive program
• Offering injury prevention training during employee onboarding
• Implementing a waste minimization project in 2018-2019 to reduce
methylene chloride that included upgrading a multi-stage condensing recovery system to reduce air emission by more than 90% and segregating
wastewater streams to allow for some on-site carbon treatment, which
greatly reduces volume of water for off-site disposal.
Congratulations Nation Ford and VanDeMark for setting the standard
in EHS&S in 2019!