Safety and Security

For occupational and process safety as well as health and environmental protection and corporate security, we rely on comprehensive preventive measures and expect the cooperation of all employees and contractors. Our global safety and security concepts serve to protect our employees, contractors and neighbors, to prevent property and environmental damage, and to protect information and company assets.

The graphic depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in each chapter address the station shown in light blue. (here: BASF) (graphic)


  • Global safety standards
  • Strengthening risk awareness
  • Comprehensive incident analyses and global experience and information exchange

The safety of our employees, contractors and neighbors, and protecting the environment is our top priority. This is why we have set ourselves ambitious goals for occupational and process safety as well as health protection. We stipulate mandatory global standards for safety, security, and environmental and health protection. A worldwide network of experts ensures these are implemented. As part of our continuous improvement process, we regularly monitor progress toward our goals.

We promote risk awareness for every individual with measures such as systematic hazard assessments, specific and ongoing qualification measures and global safety initiatives. We analyze accidents and incidents as well as their causes and consequences in detail at a global level to learn from these. Hazard assessments and the risk minimization measures derived from them are an important prevention tool. We also promote regular dialog across different sites to strengthen risk awareness among our employees and contractors, to learn from examples of good practice and in this way, continually develop our safety culture.

By the end of 2020, we had introduced digital solutions and applications at around 250 plants worldwide to further increase safety, security, planning capability and availability. We plan to implement these at around another 170 plants by 2022. Such solutions include augmented reality: At many sites, our employees already use mobile end devices and special apps for day-to-day tasks such as safety inspections, which continuously improves the efficiency and quality of our processes. Other applications include efficiently simulating maintenance and production processes in digital plant models and predictive maintenance. At the Ludwigshafen site in Germany, for example, over 40 plants already use predictive maintenance models to monitor plant components such as compressors, pumps or heat exchangers.

Leaders are important role models for employees, which is why environmental protection, health, safety and security are discussed with newly appointed senior executives. Senior executives with a particular responsibility for such topics, for example, in production, also receive specific further training to be able to meet their responsibilities. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the seminars for senior executives could only take place to a limited extent in 2020. We will therefore expand our offering with digital formats in 2021.

Global safety initiative

  • First decentralized Global Safety Days

Our global safety initiative was established in 2008 and plays a key role in the ongoing development of our safety culture. For the first time, decentralized virtual safety days were held around the world in 2020. As a result of the new organizational structure and due to the different regional measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, each site could decide on the focus and implementation of the safety initiative. In the Asia Pacific region, many sites organized activities under the banner of “Safety, my responsibility!” while numerous events reflecting the motto of “Halt! Safety champions pause for safety” were held at the Ludwigshafen site in Germany. Many events were held online using interactive formats In the interest of our employees’ health, giving them the opportunity to find out about safety-related topics and to learn from each other. This involvement and lively discussion, even in times of a pandemic, make a major contribution to our safety culture.

Occupational safety

  • Employees and contractors worldwide instructed on safe behavior

Our aim is to reduce the worldwide lost-time injury rate to no more than 0.1 per 200,000 working hours1 by 2025. To prevent work-related accidents, we encourage and promote risk-conscious behavior and safe working practices for every individual, learning from incidents and regular discussion. We are constantly refining and enhancing our requirements and training.

2025 target

Reduction of worldwide lost-time injury rate per 200,000 working hours


In addition to the legally required briefings, BASF requires new employees and contractors to complete compulsory safety training, as well as regular training on the safe handling of chemicals and the correct use of personal protective equipment for employees at our production sites.

In 2020, 0.3 work-related accidents per 200,000 working hours1 occurred at BASF sites worldwide (2019: 0.3). The share of chemical-related accidents declined slightly to 6% (2019: 7%). Unfortunately, there was one fatal work-related accident in 2020 (2019: 1). At the Gunsan site in South Korea, an employee of a contractor succumbed to injuries sustained from falling after receiving an electric shock during painting work on a high-voltage transmission tower. BASF supported the relevant authorities in their investigation into the circumstances and cause of the accident. We use the findings to take appropriate measures to prevent this from happening again. Such measures include regular information and awareness campaigns.

1 Hours worked by BASF employees, temporary employees and contractors

Easier with an app

Hazard assessments are the main occupational safety tool for preventing accidents and work-related illness. In the future, a new mobile hazard assessment app can be used at the Ludwigshafen site in Germany to report occupational hazards directly on site using explosion-proof smartphones or tablets. This information can later be edited on a computer. There are many advantages to this approach. Digital processes do not just save time and avoid transcription errors – images and notes also allow more detailed information to be passed on without having to enter this twice. This makes is easier to review the effectiveness of the measures, making the app a valuable, integrated tool that complements the existing backend application. The hazard assessment app was tested at the first plants in 2020 and made more user-friendly based on the findings. We want to expand availability to further plants at the Ludwigshafen site from 2021 and share experiences from the pilot phase in a global network.

Easier with an app (Photo)

Process safety

  • Regular review of plant safety concepts and performance of implementation checks and safety-related measures
  • Global initiatives to reduce process safety incidents
  • Production networks and global training methods foster dialog

Process safety is a core part of safe, effective and thus sustainable production. We meet high safety standards in the planning, construction and operation of our plants around the world. These meet and, in some cases, go beyond local legal requirements.

Our global standards provide the framework for the safe construction and operation of our plants as well as the protection of people and the environment. Our experts have developed a plant safety concept and implementation check for every plant that considers the key aspects of safety, health and environmental protection – from conception to startup – and stipulates specific protection measures.

In order to maintain the highest level of safety at our plants across their entire life cycles, we verify that our protection concepts, safety reviews and resulting safety measures have been carried out in all our plants at timely intervals based on risk potential. We regularly update our plants’ safety and security concepts in line with changing technologies and as necessary.

2025 target

Reduction of worldwide process safety incidents per 200,000 working hours


We use the number of process safety incidents (PSI) per 200,000 working hours2 as a reporting indicator. We have set ourselves the goal of reducing process safety incidents to a rate of no more than 0.1 per 200,000 working hours by 2025. In 2020, we recorded 0.3 process safety incidents per 200,000 working hours worldwide (2019: 0.3). We investigate every incident in detail, even under the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic, analyze causes and use the findings to derive suitable measures. We share the findings in our global network in the interest of continuous improvement.

Around the world, we promote the reduction of process safety incidents and improve risk awareness with a culture of dealing openly with mistakes and initiatives to foster dialog around potential safety risks. In reducing plant safety incidents, the main focus is on the implementation of technical measures. Bolstered by a greater risk awareness, avoiding and detecting all leaks was again a key priority in 2020 with the “Zero Loss of Containment Mindset” initiative in North America and the “Zero leakage” initiative in South America.

In addition, we are continually refining and expanding our training methods and offerings to increase risk awareness. Due to the restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, in-person seminars were also held as virtual meetings or taught using web-based applications in 2020.

We play an active role in improving process safety around the world in a global network of internal and external experts, through our involvement in organizations such as the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) or the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), and by fostering dialog with government institutions.

2 Hours worked by BASF employees, temporary employees and contractors

Health protection

  • Global standards for corporate health management
  • 2020 Global Health Campaign: “Protect yourself and others”

Our global corporate health management serves to promote and maintain the health and productivity of our employees. Our worldwide standards for occupational health are specified in a requirement. A global network of experts provide implementation support. We monitor compliance with these standards at BASF sites with regular audits.3 We measure our performance in health protection using the Health Performance Index (HPI). This has five components: recognized occupational diseases, medical emergency drills, first aid, preventive medicine and health promotion. Each component contributes a maximum of 0.2 to the total score, meaning that the highest possible score is 1.0. We aim to reach a value of more than 0.9 every year.

Development of the Health Performance Index (HPI)
Development of the Health Performance Index (HPI) (bar chart)

With an HPI of 0.92, we once again reached this target in 2020 (2019: 0.97). The figure is slightly lower than in previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic, as a result of which a number of criteria crucial to the HPI could not be fully met. For instance, activities that required physical participation such as emergency drills, examinations or first aider training could not be held on the usual scale.

The coronavirus pandemic also made many health protection measures necessary in 2020. Activating our pandemic plans, which have been mandatory for all sites since 2010, sharing information in our global BASF medical network, and working closely together with the authorities, employee representatives and our partners at BASF sites enabled us to make and successfully implement sound and timely decisions according to the situation. Our actions focused on the health of all of our employees, contractors and third parties. Measures included developing hygiene concepts, tracing and breaking infection chains, and providing information to and raising awareness among employees via the intranet and at the site gates.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the annual global health campaign on the theme “Protect yourself and others – stay healthy in 2020” was developed at short notice and offered around the world. The focus was on preventive hygiene measures, vaccinations and preventing infection. There were also special offerings on remote working, such as videos and consultations on nutrition, exercise/ergonomics and psychological stress. Over 450 sites worldwide took part in the health campaign with activities such as workshops, courses, talks and exercises. Another focus in 2020 was on influenza prevention. BASF employees could be vaccinated against the seasonal flu at many sites around the world, an offer that was very well received. At the Ludwigshafen site in Germany, for example, around three times more employees participated in the vaccination campaign than in past years.

We raise employee awareness of health topics with offerings tailored to specific target groups. The BASF health checks form the foundation of our global health promotion program and are offered to employees at regular intervals.

3 In 2020, medical personnel including auditors had to concentrate on monitoring and responding to the pandemic situation and on global pandemic preparedness. For this reason and due to the coronavirus-related travel restrictions, only one site was audited on occupational medicine and health protection in the year under review.

Emergency response, corporate security and cybersecurity

  • Regular review of emergency systems and crisis management structures
  • Comprehensive protection measures against third-party interference

We are well prepared for crisis situations thanks to our global crisis management system. In the event of a crisis, our global, regional or local emergency response plans and crisis management structures are engaged, depending on the impact scope. We involve situation-related partners and suppliers as well as cities, communities and neighboring companies. An IT system to support emergency response helps us to speed up communication between the relevant players in the event of a crisis and maintain the best possible overview of the situation. This enables the crisis management team to record and process events around the world better and in more detail.

We regularly check our emergency systems, crisis management structures and drill procedures with employees, contractors, local authorities and emergency rescue workers. For example, in 2020 we conducted 176 drills and simulations in Ludwigshafen, Germany, to instruct participants on our emergency response measures.

We analyze the potential safety and security risks associated with investment projects and strategic plans, and define appropriate safety and security concepts. Our guiding principle is to identify risks for the company at an early stage, assess them properly and derive appropriate safeguards.

We inform business travelers and transferees about appropriate protection measures prior to and during travel in countries with elevated security risks. After any major incident, we can use a standardized global travel system to locate and contact employees in the affected regions.

We protect our employees, sites, plants and company know-how against third-party interference. This includes, for example, analyzing potential security risks in the communities surrounding our production sites and addressing in depth the issue of cybersecurity. BASF applies the “security by design” principle. As early as the concept phase, all internet of things applications are critically reviewed from a cybersecurity perspective. We are continually developing our ability to prevent, detect and react to security incidents with various measures and training programs. Our global Cyber Security Defense Center monitors and protects our IT systems against hacker attacks. We cooperate closely with a global network of experts and partners to ensure that we can protect ourselves against cyberattacks as far as possible. Our IT security system is certified according to ISO 27001:2013. This also includes ISO 27019:2018 for critical infrastructure.

Around the world, we work to sensitize our employees about protecting information and know-how. For example, we further strengthened our employees’ awareness of risks in 2020 with mandatory online training for all employees and other offerings such as seminars, case studies and interactive training. We have defined mandatory information protection requirements to ensure compliance with our processes for protecting sensitive information and perform audits to monitor this.

Our worldwide network of information protection officers comprises around 650 employees. They support the implementation of our uniform requirements and hold events and seminars on secure behaviors. Around 100,000 employees had been trained on the basics of cybersecurity and information protection in 2020. Our standardized Group-wide recommendations for the protection of information and knowledge were expanded to include additional guidance for employees and updated in line with current developments.

Global Be Secure month

Cyberattacks have become commonplace. Social engineering calls in particular have risen sharply in recent times. Alongside technical security, every individual’s conduct plays an important role in protecting companies against information theft and cybercrime.

We want to raise employee awareness around cybersecurity and give them the tools to effectively defend themselves. As well as online training, which is compulsory for all employees, we hold a Be Secure month every year in October. In 2020, over 16,000 employees participated in around 90 events in nine languages. These ranged from talks on topics such as counter-espionage at BASF to live hacking demonstrations by an external digital forensics expert. In addition, information protection officers around the world organized regional and local events, mainly held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Global Be Secure month (Photo)