In the chemical industry one thing is unequivocally clear: Safety is paramount.

It is not a slogan, not a message board, not just policy. For the most successful chemical companies around the world, safety is their core value, and safety is their mission to make the world a better place, which starts with ensuring employees leave the facility the same way they came in. While there are industry averages to compare against, there are not acceptable limits. The goal is zero, and the expectation is perfection.

A safety culture is not built overnight, and an important component of this culture is creating an environment where employees connect to the mission of their company, which for the chemical industry is often to make the world a safer, healthier, and better place to live.

A company with direction can encourage focus and create ownership to operate with a higher responsibility to society. This is not just what products or services are being delivered, but why they are important. The how this is accomplished is built on safety at the core of the business. When coexisting, understanding the why and the how encourages employees to champion the company culture. There is understanding and ownership that operating safely inherently creates value for the company and for society.

This must be in parallel with rigorous safety protocols that ensure processes, hazards, and risks are understood and addressed. This extends well beyond procedures as the success of safety culture resides in a company’s ability to empower its employees to do the right thing every time, no questions asked. It is not just the result of talking about safety, rather it is a mindset of actively applying safety principles to everything that happens across the business and even bringing this mindset home. Sometimes putting safety as a No. 1 priority impacts operating margins or capacity. But with a strong safety culture, there is no tradeoff, simply an unwavering commitment to employee health. For chemical companies, this is the prerequisite for sustainable operations and success in the market.

A strong safety culture extends to every facet of an organization. Safety must be at the core and is fundamental to every decision that is made. A safety culture must be constantly nourished, requiring processes to be evaluated, dialogue to be open, people to be collaborative, and sentiments understood. This is complex and no single component turns the needle. It is a collective effort to build this culture top down and bottom up.

For SAP, the importance of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) is evident in the 20-plus year record of investment, innovation, and market leadership in delivering solutions. By leveraging data to drive analysis and actionable insight, the collaboration among EHS practitioners, corporate leaders, and field operations drives world-class safety processes.

Michael Censurato, EHS solution manager at SAP, helps bring this solution to the market and the value proposition is clear: “The modular but unified platform provided by SAP enables the EHS function within an enterprise to be more aware, reduce risk, drive intelligent processes, and be at the forefront of digital transformation instead of being left behind on a non-integrated island.”

Solutions include incident management, health and safety management, environmental management, management of change, and maintenance safety embedded in SAP S/4HANA, delivering a harmonized platform and a single source of truth. This is about enabling a holistic approach to embed safety and operational risk management into all operations, making critical safety information available to all – top floor to shop floor, and enabling EHS practitioners to lead within their organizations.

Putting in perspective how companies continue to transform, Censurato says, “Companies have begun to see the value of an integrated platform approach to solving EHS issues. The current situation regarding the coronavirus puts this in sharp focus and is forcing companies to rethink how they will operate going forward. SAP is uniquely capable of driving the process and data integration required for businesses to thrive in the years to come, while adding a layer of intelligence along the way.”

For chemical companies, one thing will not change: their commitment to safety. Safety will be at the core and SAP is excited to be a part of this journey leveraging digital transformation in the drive to zero.

Matthew Reymann is a chemicals solution specialist at SAP.