BASF Report 2021

Health and Safety, Emergency Response

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

For occupational and process safety as well as corporate security and health and environmental protection, we rely on comprehensive preventive measures and expect the cooperation of all employees and contractors. Our 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.

At a glance


Lost-time injuries per 200,000 working hours


Process safety incidents per 200,000 working hours

  • Global health and safety standards
  • Strengthening risk awareness and mindful behavior
  • Intensive dialog on safety topics
  • Regular review of safety concepts, emergency systems and crisis management structures
  • Comprehensive protection measures against third-party interference


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 occupational and process safety, emergency response and health protection. Our sites and subsidiaries are responsible for implementing and complying with internal guidelines and legal requirements. The Environmental Protection, Health & Safety unit in the Corporate Center conducts regular audits to monitor this. As part of our continuous improvement process, we regularly monitor progress toward our goals. We have defined our reporting indicators in accordance with the reporting standard developed by the International Council of Chemical Associations.

We promote risk awareness for every individual with measures such as systematic hazard assessments, specific and ongoing qualification measures and a wide range of 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.

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 were held virtually in 2021. Other events and initiatives in 2021 also focused on the high relevance of safety topics and dialog among our leaders. These included regular town halls for senior executives, the Lead with Safety initiative in North America and the Visible Leadership in EHS @ CP initiative in the Petrochemicals division.

Numerous digital solutions and applications are used in BASF’s production plants to further increase safety, security, planning capability and availability. For example, we had introduced augmented reality solutions at around 340 plants worldwide as of the end of 2021. We plan to implement these at more than 80 other plants by the end of 2022. 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 areas of application for digital solutions 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 and heat exchangers.

Occupational safety

Our aim is to reduce the worldwide lost-time injury rate to no more than 0.1 per 200,00 working hours1 by 2025. To prevent work-related accidents, we encourage and promote risk-conscious behavior and safe working practices, learning from incidents and regular dialog. We are constantly refining and enhancing our requirements and training.

2025 target

Reduce the 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 health and 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. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a greater focus on the safety aspects of remote working in 2021.

In 2021, 0.3 work-related accidents per 200,000 working hours1 occurred at BASF sites worldwide (2020: 0.3). The share of chemical-related accidents declined slightly to 4% (2020: 6%).

Unfortunately, there was one fatal work-related accident in 2021 (2020: 1). At the Geismar site in Louisiana, an employee of a contractor died while performing maintenance work. The accident is still being investigated by the local authorities. BASF is assisting the inquiry 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 informational events and awareness-raising campaigns.

We actively share insights to further increase occupational safety and continually improve our processes and methods. For example, we evaluate trends in data, analyze accidents and potential incidents, and share knowledge and best practices within our global network of experts and as part of safety initiatives. We also seek dialog with government institutions and are actively involved in external occupational safety initiatives and networks around the world led, for example, by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) or national associations such as the German Chemical Industry Association or the American Chemistry Council.

Process safety

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 guidelines 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 safety concept for every plant that considers the key aspects of safety, health and environmental protection – from plant design to the end of the production phase – and that sets out specific safety measures. Regular implementation checks ensure that all aspects of process safety comply with the safety concept and are always up to date.

2025 target

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


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, taking into particular account new technological opportunities and regulatory developments.

We use the number of process safety incidents (PSI) per 200,000 working hours1 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 2021, we recorded 0.3 process safety incidents per 200,000 working hours worldwide (2020: 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 safety risks. To reduce process safety incidents, we focus in particular on technical measures and on a leadership culture that places even greater emphasis on process safety, such as in the PM Global Safety Relay Race initiative in the Performance Materials division. Avoiding and detecting all leaks was again a key priority in 2021 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 again held as virtual meetings or taught using web-based applications in 2021.

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

Health protection

Our global corporate health management serves to promote and maintain the health and productivity of our employees. Our occupational health standards are specified in a binding global requirement, the implementation of which is the responsibility of our sites and subsidiaries. They are supported in this task by a global network of experts. The Environmental Protection, Health & Safety unit in the Corporate Center conducts regular audits to monitor compliance with the standards.

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.

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. With an HPI of 0.96, we once again reached this target in 2021 (2020: 0.92). As in 2020, the figure is slightly lower than in previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, a number of criteria crucial to the HPI could not be fully met or measures could not be performed as usual in the reporting year. These included activities that required physical participation such as emergency drills, examinations or first aider training.

In 2021, 36 work-related illnesses among BASF employees worldwide were documented as recognized occupational diseases (2020: 26). The main recognized occupational diseases are occupational asthma, hearing loss, skin diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and cancer.

In 2021, we continued the measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic developed and successfully implemented at our sites in 2020, adapted to the local infection situation in each case. By sharing information in our BASF medical network and working closely together with the authorities, employee representatives and our partners at BASF sites, we were able to make and 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 providing information to and raising awareness among employees, tracing and breaking infection chains, and vaccination services. For example, we set up our own coronavirus vaccination center at our largest site in Ludwigshafen, Germany. More than 22,000 primary vaccinations and more than 21,000 secondary vaccinations were administered there from April to August 2021, and more than 10,000 booster vaccinations were administered in December to BASF employees, contractors and site partners. Another focus in 2021 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 6,800 employees participated in the influenza vaccination campaign.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Global Health Campaign 2021 was again devoted to the personal health of our employees. The program included a wide range of in-person and virtual seminars and interactive events on regeneration under the banner of “Recharge yourself.” Focus topics were physical activity, nutrition and relaxation. Over 444 sites worldwide took part, offering events such as workshops, courses, lectures or exercises.

In October 2021, BASF SE’s Corporate Health Management unit received the European Responsible Care® Award from the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) in the category “Supporting health in COVID-19 times” for its wide-ranging activities and innovative approaches to fight the coronavirus pandemic – bundled under the motto of “Protect yourself and others.”

Emergency response, corporate and cyber security

We create working conditions and an environment in which our employees can work safely. The focus of our emergency and crisis management is therefore on the safety of our employees, plants and sites as well as our communities. We are well prepared at global, regional and local level for exceptional situations such as major incidents or pandemics thanks to our extensive regulations and measures for emergency preparedness, emergency response and crisis management. All incidents are carefully followed up on to identify potential for improvement, which is integrated into existing concepts as needed. Unusual incidents are recorded and reported centrally in accordance with a standard Group-wide procedure (e-Rapid Incident Report). This enables us to identify risks at an early stage and, if necessary, initiate appropriate relief and communication measures.

Incidents are initially handled by the local crisis organization or local emergency response team. We have implemented precautionary organizational measures with clearly defined responsibilities and procedures at all sites for this purpose. The responsible persons receive regular training. Depending on the situation, we also involve business partners and our sites’ communities, such as local authorities or neighboring companies. Additional teams may be called in depending on the extent of the damage and how it develops.

For example, the Global Crisis Management Support Team (GCMS), led by a member of the Board of Executive Directors, was activated in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. It provides the strategic direction for crisis management and is supported by issue-specific and specialist working groups.

Safety and emergency drills are also conducted regularly at site and Group level. The number of employees and partners involved varies depending on the type of exercise.

We are actively involved in external networks, which quickly provide information and assistance in emergencies. These include the International Chemical and Environmental (ICE) initiative and the German Transport Accident Information and Emergency Response System (TUIS), in which BASF plays a coordinating role. In 2021, we provided assistance to public emergency response agencies and other companies in 138 cases (2020: 112). This included information on chemicals and their proper disposal, on-site operational support for transportation accidents involving hazardous goods, or information on human biomonitoring. We apply the experience we have gathered to improve our own processes and set up similar systems in other countries.

The corporate security requirements for site security are set out in a global guideline. Local implementation by our sites and subsidiaries is regularly audited and continuously improved. Respect for human rights is a mandatory element of our requirements. Aspects of human rights relevant to site security are a component of the global code of conduct and qualification requirements for our internal and external security personnel. 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. We updated our travel recommendations in line with the coronavirus pandemic. 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 addressing in depth the issue of cybersecurity and information security. BASF applies the “security by design” principle to critically review and optimize IT applications from a cybersecurity perspective as early as the design phase. We are continually improving our ability to prevent, detect and react to security incidents with various measures and training programs. Our global cybersecurity team monitors and protects our IT systems against hacker attacks. We cooperate with experts and partners in a global network to ensure that we can protect ourselves against cyberattacks as far as possible. Our IT security management system is certified according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 27001:2017. It also supports, in particular, our critical infrastructures in meeting additional compliance requirements such as DIN EN ISO/IEC 27019:2020, IT security catalog and corresponding industry-specific standards (B3S).

Around the world, we work to sensitize our employees about protecting information and know-how. We further strengthened our employees’ awareness of risks in 2021 with mandatory, regular online training for all employees and complementary offerings such as seminars, case studies and interactive training. These increasingly addressed aspects of working practices that have changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, such as cybersecurity when working from home.

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 2021. 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.

1 Hours worked by BASF employees, temporary employees and contractors

Good to know

Automation Security Roadmap

The advance of digitalization increases the risk of cyberattacks on IT systems such as online stores or servers. At the same time, automation technology (operational technology) is increasingly being used in production plants, buildings, laboratories and in logistics, which is also connected to the internet via various protection levels. An interdisciplinary team with experts from information and automation technology developed the Automation Security Roadmap to reduce risk in these areas. It serves as a guide for facilities to protect themselves against cyberattacks. Part of the concept is training Officers for Automation Security (OAS). BASF now has over 300 OASs. They provide advice and support on cybersecurity in automation technology at all BASF sites worldwide – for example, on risk analysis, protecting sensitive data and access control.

Automation Security Roadmap (photo)
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