What still went wrong in 2021
The year 2021 presented us with many challenges as well as opportunities. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to place additional and unexpected demands upon our company and our people worldwide. At the same time, this was a pivotal year in DSM’s transformation with the sale of our Resins & Functional Materials business and associated businesses, the integration of three acquired companies, and the establishment of three new Business Groups as we fully focus on becoming a Health, Nutrition & Bioscience company.
Despite the challenging circumstances, we applied our high standards with our usual rigor. Possible breaches of the DSM Code of Business Conduct were investigated and, if any form of infringement was found to have occurred, consequence management was applied (see DSM Code of Business Conduct for further information). Here we share the most significant incidents of 2021 across all three dimensions of People, Planet and Profit and not relating solely to breaches of the DSM Code of Business Conduct. This overview includes incidents with a financial impact as well as incidents regarding health, safety, environment, security and fraud, in all of which areas we have a low risk appetite.
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 serious damage but which could have done so. Even when a crisis is averted, it is our responsibility to learn from it and do better in future. We have a process in place to collect information about incidents and serious near-misses as presented in this overview, using various sources including our internal Letter of Representation, and our reporting system for SHE and Security incidents.
Preventing incidents from reoccurring requires us to understand each incident to the best of our ability. When an incident occurs, our 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 and we trigger global improvement cycles, see Safety, health & well-being. We adjust requirements and processes and apply consequence management as needed.
Incidents involving falls
At DSM Nutritional Products in Lalden (Switzerland), an operator was stretching in the attempt to close a valve. He lost balance, falling to the ground and dislocating his shoulder.
At DSM’s joint venture Yimante in Jingzhou (Hubei Province, China), an employee fell from height in a washing tower and suffered multiple rib fractures.
Incidents during process interruptions and maintenance work
At DSM Nutritional Products in Jiangshan (Jiangsu Province, China), an employee carrying out maintenance work on a vacuum pump lost the tip of a finger when the vacuum pump piston unexpectedly moved.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Jiangshan (Jiangsu Province, China), an employee conducting maintenance work was hit by the end cover of an air compressor which was still under pressure and broke his thigh.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Belvidere (New Jersey, USA), an employee lost the tip of a finger during the reinstallation of a piece of equipment.
At DSM Food Specialties in Yantai (Shandong Province, China), an employee lost a finger and the tip of another finger while he was trying to remove a blockage in a feeding pipeline.
At DSM Engineering Materials in Emmen (Netherlands), an employee injured the tip of a finger while removing polymer wires from the cutter of an extruder.
At DSM Nutritional Products in El Salto (Mexico), an operator suffered a head injury that required stitches when he was hit by a tool while starting up a blender. From the incident investigation we learned that the DSM safety rules and controls had been violated multiple times. Consequence management was applied, and organizational and procedural changes were implemented.
Incidents due to flash fires / explosions
At DSM Nutritional Products in Ambernath (India), a flash fire occurred at the dosing point where two employees were manually filling a reactor. The employees sustained first-degree burns to their hands and heads.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Mairinque (Brazil), a flash fire occurred during a normal restart procedure after a power shutdown. An employee sustained first- and second-degree burns to the upper body and there was material damage to the equipment.
At DSM’s joint venture Yimante in Jingzhou (Hubei province, China), an employee sustained second-degree burns to his face when a flash fire occurred while he was cleaning a tank.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Sisseln (Switzerland), a small fire occurred in a formulation unit. causing the suspension of a production line for a few weeks. There were no personal injuries.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Kingstree (South Carolina, USA), a process interruption caused plugging in a feed line. During the restart of the process an internal ignition led to an explosion. There were no personal injuries.
At DSM’s joint venture Yimante in Jingzhou (Hubei province, China), an implosion damaged a product storage tank causing a loss of production of multiple days. There were no personal injuries.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Esbjerg (Denmark), a runaway reaction occurred when a bacteria-containing product stream was being sterilized, damaging two valves in the production installation. There were no personal injuries.
Other health and safety incidents
At DSM’s joint venture Olatein in Dieppe (France), a contractor working at height dropped a wooden board that fell six meters, hitting another contractor’s foot. The contractor suffered a fracture of his big toe.
At DSM Food Specialties in Delft (Netherlands), two employees entered a production room filled with a mist. One experienced irritation to the eyes and the other irritation to the cheek.
At DSM Food Specialties in Yantai (Shandong Province, China), an employee fractured a toe when a poorly loaded pallet he was moving tilted, and his foot got stuck between the pallet and the floor.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Schenectady (New York, USA), an employee reported discomfort in his left knee after repetitively moving 50 kg drums onto a pallet. He was reassigned to physically less-demanding tasks.
At DSM Food Specialties in Wuxi (Jiangsu Province, China), a pallet slipped off a truck to the ground as unloading commenced, leading to a severe blow to the waist area of the truck driver, who suffered multiple fractured vertebrae.
At DSM Nutritional Products in São Paulo (Brazil), an employee was hit by a truck while making a business trip in a company car.
Incidents involving personal data
Unauthorized persons accessed the Office365 email account of an employee of one of our strategic IT partners. After a day, the employee noticed unusual behavior in the email account and alerted the DSM IT Security team. In the timeframe between the attack and its detection, a phishing mail was sent to a number of employees from the corrupted email account. Corrective and mitigating measures were immediately taken that stopped the attack the same day. No similar instances have been noticed since. The incident was reported to the Dutch Data Protection Authority.
While transporting for DSM Food Specialties in Mexico, a truck carrying DSM products was hijacked by armed thieves. The driver was threatened with firearms and required to hand over the vehicle and its consignment. The driver was released unharmed after the assault.
There were no serious reportable Planet incidents this year.
At DSM Food Specialties in Delft (Netherlands), the mechanical breakdown of a centrifuge led to a loss of production of more than a week.
At DSM Engineering Materials, two raw material suppliers declared force majeure, leading to a loss of production of multiple days at DSM.
At DSM Food Specialties in Delft (Netherlands), parts of equipment were incorrectly replaced during a maintenance stop, leading to a delay in restarting the production.
At Group Business Services (Latin America), irregularities in the purchasing process were detected, pointing to a fraud case in which multiple fraudsters were involved. Relevant processes and controls were reviewed and updated.
At DSM Nutritional Products in Freeport (Texas, USA), production needed to be stopped as a result of exceptionally low temperatures in February. The freezing of equipment, a power outage and material damage caused a loss of production of several days.
At DSM Nutritional Products in North America, a supplier delivered raw material which affected product quality and necessitated a product replacement in the case of one customer.
At DSM Nutritional Products, two suppliers of the same raw material declared force majeure, impacting the supply to multiple DSM sites, leading to a loss of margin.
Before the completion of the divestment of DSM Resins & Functional Materials in the first quarter of 2021, two suppliers declared force majeure, leading to a loss of production at multiple DSM sites.