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Terminal News

The importance of safety in the chemical distribution industry

The importance of safety in the chemical distribution industry
A strong safety culture is at the heart of Brenntag's chemical distribution operations. The company helps to raise the bar and set the safety standard in the distribution industry for chemicals and is continuously investing in new systems and programmes to not only take advantage of the new digital era but to strengthen safety amongst its employees.

Ingo Legermann, HSE manager at Brenntag EMEA, talks to Tank Storage Magazine about how the company deals with safety challenges, its new system that delivers a step change in the management of chemical delivery as well as its innovative HSE culture improvement programme.

What are the main safety challenges and concerns in chemical distribution for Brenntag?

Safety is the first of the eight guiding principles of the global Responsible Care programme that Brenntag has supported for many years - and safety is our top priority. Brenntag is the global market leader in chemical distribution. It is our job to ensure the right product gets delivered safely, to the right customer, on time – whatever the volume, wherever they are located. We look to achieve excellence in every aspect of our business, such as to supply products quickly, efficiently, safely, conveniently and in full regulatory compliance, and offer extensive support to our customers in implementing all aspects of the relevant regulatory and safety requirements.

What key pieces of legislation particularly impact HSE in Brenntag and the chemical distribution industry?

The chemical distribution industry acts in a highly regulated market in global, regional as well as in different local respects. Our industry is fully committed to Responsible Care and Responsible Distribution and it is one of its key business principles to fully comply with all regulatory requirements, including but not limited to those defined by Europe’s REACH Regulation, COMAH/SEVESO and ADR. Brenntag’s team of experts work to ensure compliance with regulations in all dimensions of its own business processes. By that Brenntag is enabled to tap into a broad expertise and knowledge base with regards to similar processes of its business partners. We work very closely with the regulators to ensure that our organisation operates to the very highest environmental and safety standards.

Can you explain Brenntag’s role in the chemical supply chain?

Brenntag plays a key role in the supply chain connecting manufacturers and users of chemicals. As a business, we continue to raise the bar in terms of safety, with regards to our organisational safety culture and, as a distributor, setting the standards for the safe delivery of chemicals in the industry.

For instance, last year Brenntag UK & Ireland completed the implementation of the Brenntag Mobile Delivery Management System across its own fleet of more than 100 vehicles. The system delivered a step change in the management of chemical delivery through our bulk and distribution fleets. Safe transportation of chemicals is essential in responsible distribution, whilst the nature of chemical distribution traditionally dictates vast amounts of paperwork to handle specific delivery, compliance and safety instructions, especially for multiple deliver types and different products. The system ensures accurate delivery information and data integrity to validate all compliance and safety checks, including deliveries made by third parties, giving the full transparency of our delivery and collection process in real-time. Brenntag is the first chemical distributor in the UK to go live with this revolutionary delivery management system.

What initiatives has Brenntag implemented to enhance its safety performance?

Safety is at the core of everything we do at Brenntag. We recognise that as a distributor we sit at the very heart of the supply chain and therefore ensure that we get it right and do it safely every time. This is integral to the success of our business and that of our business partners. Our safety initiatives are all developed to encourage our employees to ensure safety is in our cultural DNA.

In 2015, Brenntag launched globally the BEST (Brenntag Enhanced Safety Thinking) programme. This model helps everyone at Brenntag understand the behaviours they should and should not display to play their part in strengthening our HSE culture.

Since its implementation, we have seen great improvements on our journey to create a better safety culture with the target to have caring co-workers who take care of each other. It’s about people, and this programme is getting to their hearts and minds, as it is our employees’s direct involvement, ideas, initiatives and understanding of the importance of safety that enable us to continuously raise the bar on safety performance.

Are there any future developments planned at Brenntag in relation to its chemical distribution offering?

We all know that our private lives are much more influenced by digital innovations, but of course business life is also affected. Brenntag is fully embracing this next stage of the company’s development and the opportunities this new era brings. As a global market leader, Brenntag is in a very good position to lead this change in chemical distribution industry and shape it. We need to keep doing what works, modify what can be done better, and invent new ways to create true value for our partners.

Specifically, to further develop our safety-first culture, this includes new tools to improve safer ways of working at our depots and at customer sites to ensure wide range of services and compliance to essential safety rules.

Legermann will be talking more about the importance of safety in the chemical distribution industry on the afternoon of the second day of the ChemUK 2019 conference taking place at the Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate on May 1-2. For more information visit