DSM Integrated Annual Report 2022

What still went wrong in 2022

The year 2022 presented us with many challenges as well as opportunities. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, placed additional and unexpected new demands on our company and our people worldwide. At the same time, 2022 was a pivotal year in DSM’s transformation with the sale of our Protective Materials business and the announcement of the sale of our Engineering Materials business, during which we focused entirely 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 actionable 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 2022 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 safety, health, environment, quality, security and fraud, in all of which areas we have a low risk appetite.

We have a process in place to collect information about serious and/or material incidents – as presented in this overview, using various sources including our internal Letter of Representation, and our reporting system for SHE and Security incidents as well as the quality incident reporting system.

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, repair any damage and for quality incidents to ensure that the product does not enter the market and reach consumers. We investigate every recordable incident using a fixed root cause analysis method and we trigger global improvement cycles, see Safety, Quality, and Health & Well-being. We adjust requirements and processes and apply consequence management as needed.


In the following overview, we list the incidents that occurred during 2022 and describe how we responded to them in terms of improving our performance. We do not report on the treatment of any specific injuries listed here. Our first priority is of course always to take care of any injuries to personnel.

Most serious safety incident

Our learning response

At our Yimante joint venture site (Hubei province, China), an employee fell into a hot wastewater basin and suffered severe burns.

We ran programs to improve safety awareness – including awareness of the Life Saving Rules, among both employees and contractors – as part of our continuing integration program at this site. See also People.

Incidents involving slips and trips

Our learning response

Tripping, slipping, and falling sometimes leads to serious injuries, such as muscle strains, joint sprains, and bone fractures. This happened on our sites in Grenzach (Germany), Delft (Netherlands) and Geleen (Netherlands) to three of our contractor employees.

We stepped up our efforts to promote an engaging and disciplined safety culture by means of focused improvement programs, such as the Behavior-Based Safety program (Safestart®). See also People.

Incidents during troubleshooting and maintenance

Our learning response

The resolution of process disturbances involving manual work on a machine led to serious hand injuries, including the amputation of fingers, or parts of fingers, in the case of three of our employees. These employees were working respectively at our site in Blok Dobryszyce (Poland), Tongxiang (Zhejiang province, China), and Banting (Malaysia). In all three cases, the equipment had not been properly secured beforehand as required by our Life Saving Rules.

We introduced improvements to ensure safe handling of the relevant machine in future. The learnings from these incidents were shared with all DSM sites to prevent any recurrence.

This was accompanied by a renewed focus on the implementation of LOTOTO (Lock-Out, Try-Out, Tag-Out) Life Saving Rule at the three sites involved.

At our site in Grenzach (Germany), a sudden pressure peak in a hot water pipe caused a water hose to become detached from the faucet, despite being fixed by means of two hose clamps. Hot water from the pipe hit an operator who was standing nearby, causing burns to his foot.

We made improvements to the design of the hot water pipe in question. We also applied the learnings from this incident to our handling of both hot water and steam and shared these learnings with all other DSM sites.

On our site in Seclin (France), a wrench being used by an operator slipped and hit him in the face, inflicting a cut to his upper lip that required stitches.

We stepped up our efforts to promote an engaging and disciplined safety culture by means of focused improvement programs, such as the Behavior-Based Safety program (Safestart®). Safestart® trains our employees and contractors to stay out of ‘the line of fire’ when performing operations with tools. See also People.

Process safety incidents

We had three serious process safety incidents without serious personal injuries or environmental impact, but with material damage.

Our learning response

On our site in Grenzach (Germany), a deflagration caused by an electrostatic discharge occurred in the site’s off-gas system, causing material damage.

We examined the piping material in question and ascertained that it had triggered the electrostatic discharge. The piping was immediately replaced.

The learnings from this incident were shared with all DSM sites to prevent any recurrence of such an incident.

At our Yimante joint venture site (Hubei province, China), corrosion caused a distillation column to implode and leak.

We introduced improvements to ensure the reliability of equipment. This included intensifying our existing corrosion inspection program, restating the minimum acceptable thicknesses of vessels and reducing vacuum levels, where possible.

Incidents involving the handling of materials

Our learning response

Loading, unloading and manual handling of heavy materials has the potential to cause musculoskeletal injuries. Injuries of this type were sustained by four of our employees, across our sites in Kingstree (South Carolina, USA), Village-Neuf (France) (two cases), and Stadtoldendorf (Germany).

On our site in Dalry (United Kingdom), an employee got his hand jammed and suffered serious abrasion to a finger while handling a roll of packaging material.

Over the past few years, most of the recorded cases of this kind have involved ergonomic risk factors. To address this issue, we are implementing a dedicated program that tackles both the behavioral and the technological aspects of ergonomics. A pilot in 2022 proved successful and is to be rolled out globally. See also People.

Human rights incidents

Our learning response

A breach of our expectations regarding international human rights standards was identified in the case of a supplier in Taiwan. The supplier was using third-party recruiters that charged fees to workers.

Following a failed probationary period to attempt to rectify the practice, we discontinued our relationship with the supplier. To ensure this will not happen again, relevant processes and controls were reviewed and updated to strengthen our position on human rights.

Quality incidents

Our learning response

We experienced several minor quality incidents, mainly in the area of microbiological contamination of products. These were all identified in good time, before material was shipped to our customers.

Considering our historical data on these kinds of incidents and the constantly improving analytical techniques for identifying microbiological contaminations, we initiated a quality improvement program. This yielded a lower number of occurrences in 2022 compared to prior years.

Security incidents

Our learning response

An employee from our site in Lagos (Nigeria) was robbed at gunpoint on the way to the office.

We investigated the incident and identified improvement actions, including increasing employee awareness regarding security risks, and especially when travelling for business purposes. For Nigeria, a visitor travel security plan is already in place, and a security plan for operations is being established.


Our learning response

At our site in Jiangshan (Jiangsu province, China), sparks from welding work ignited the plastic packing material of a cooling water tower, causing a fire.

We increased awareness of our Hot Work Life Saving Rule designed to prevent risks of fire when work such as welding is being carried out.


Our learning response

Due to major force majeure events at three of our raw material suppliers, we had serious production losses in several business areas. In addition to that, there were several other supply chain interruptions impacting our business worldwide.

To limit the impact of supply disruptions on our own operations, we increased safety stock levels of several raw materials and wherever possible qualified alternative suppliers.

On our site in Dalry (United Kingdom), we had loss of production due to a technical defect of our high-pressure steam supply.

Preventive maintenance plans and regular controls were intensified, to prevent re-occurrence.

Process Safety Incidents
The PSI rate is the number of Process Safety Incidents per 100 DSM employees and contractor employees in the past 12 months: PSI rate = 100 * (number of PSIs (past 12 months) / average effective manpower including contractor employees (past 12 months)).
Safety, Health and Environment
Percentage points