What still went wrong in 2019

We are always trying to improve, but sometimes things still go wrong. Here we share the most significant incidents of 2019 across all three dimensions of People, Planet and Profit. This includes health, safety, environment, and security incidents (including fraud) as well as what we have learned from our businesses that has not developed as planned.

Preventing repeat problems requires us to understand each incident to the best of our ability. When an accident occurs, the first priority is to take care of any injuries and repair any damage. We investigate every recordable incident using a fixed root cause analysis method. We also trigger an improvement cycle, see 'Safety, Health & well-being'. This includes investigating root causes and trying to eliminate them. We put new requirements or operating procedures in place as needed.

We apply zero tolerance to violations of the 'DSM Code of Business Conduct'. We do not disclose any personal details in cases involving individuals.

In line with our reporting policy, this overview includes not only incidents but also some serious near-misses. Near-misses are cases that did not result in injury, illness or damage but which could have done so. Even when a crisis is averted, it is our responsibility to learn from it and do better the next time. We have a process in place to collect the information about incidents and some serious near-misses as presented in this overview, using various sources including our internal Letter of Representation, see 'Monitoring activities' and our reporting system for SHE and Security incidents.


Incidents involving falls

At DSM Nutritional Products in Grenzach (Germany), a contractor fell from a scaffold while the scaffolding was being erected. He suffered multiple fractures to his body. To prevent similar incidents, very strict scaffolding standards as well as contractor requirements have been issued company-wide.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Grenzach (Germany), an employee slipped on an icy zebra crossing when walking from the parking lot to the office buildings and sustained a broken arm.

While on a business trip, an employee of DSM Engineering Plastics in Geleen (Netherlands) slipped on the icy surface of the parking lot of his hotel and tore his knee ligaments.

In response to the latter two incidents, a campaign on preparing for winter was initiated and new safety standards were set.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Dalry (United Kingdom), an employee fractured his knee after tripping over incorrectly stored scaffolding material.

Logistical incidents

At DSM Resins and Functional Materials in Pingtung (Taiwan), an employee hit a beam of the building with the mast of the electrical pallet truck he was operating. The mast got stuck and could not be freed. The employee tried lowering the forks of the truck a couple of times, when suddenly the forks fell onto his left foot. The foot was broken where it was not protected by the steel of his safety boot.

Other health and safety incidents

At DSM Nutritional Products in Shanghai (Zhejiang Province, China), a flash fire occurred during the removal of packing materials from a distillation column. A contractor sustained second-degree burns to large parts of his body.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Buk (Poland), a contractor was hit in the eye by a webbing cable and sustained an eye injury.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Dalry (United Kingdom), an employee accidentally opened a valve of a hot water drain, the open end of which was not properly secured. Hot water poured over his shoe, scalding his foot.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Jiangshan (Jiangsu Province, China), the voluntary fire brigade carried out a fire drill. While handling a fire hose, an employee lost his balance, fell to the ground and broke his thigh.

During an occupational health check, an employee from DSM Nutritional Products in Jiangshan (Jiangsu Province, China) was diagnosed to have sustained limited hearing loss resulting from a longer-term noise exposure and was transferred to another working environment.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Mexico, a truck carrying DSM products was forced to stop on the highway. The two drivers were threatened with firearms and had to hand over the truck and cargo. Later on, the truck was retrieved but all the cargo had disappeared. Fortunately, no personal injuries were sustained.

During a business trip in South Africa, two employees from DSM Food Specialties in Delft (Netherlands) were threatened by three robbers armed with knives and robbed of their mobile phones. Fortunately, they did not sustain any physical injury.


In the context of Chemelot, DSM Netherlands (Geleen) was mentioned in the media in relation to several years of incorrect reporting of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Although DSM itself did not have the responsibility for reporting these emissions, looking back, we feel that DSM could have pointed out to the other parties involved the obligation to include the N2O emissions in their environmental reporting to the authorities. DSM regrets this.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Dalry (United Kingdom), a storage vessel partly imploded shortly after being filled up with new stock material. Fortunately, there were no personal injuries, nor was there any loss of containment.


DSM Nutritional Products in Fort Worth (Texas, USA) is involved in the recall of canned dog food initiated by a customer, as a consequence of the allegedly incorrect composition of a vitamin premix provided to that customer. The matter is ongoing at the time of publication of this Report.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Mexico, non-conformities in product registration resulted in a loss of sales.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Russia, the renewal of product certification was delayed. The sales of a number of products from Switzerland to Russia had to be put on hold and alternative supply had to be set up, leading to a loss of margin.

At DSM China, a call was received by the customer helpdesk in connection with a product allegedly manufactured by DSM. After checking with all business groups, it turned out that DSM had never produced this type of product. The product in question appeared to be a counterfeit product that was being sold online.

After the resignation of an employee of DSM Nutritional Products (Americas), it appeared that the employee had misused a company credit card to make personal and other expenditures prohibited.

An employee from DSM Food Specialties (Europe) made false business travel expense claims, thus violating the company's business travel policy.

At DSM Engineering Plastics in Emmen (Netherlands), a faulty filter allowed granulate to enter the demineralized water system, causing the machinery to break down and putting a production line out of operation for several days.

At DSM Nutritional Products in the US, operational delays in meeting production demand at a number of premix sites led to a loss of business.

At DSM Nutritional Products in Sisseln (Switzerland), an interruption in the nitrogen supply resulted in a loss of production.