When it comes to health and safety, LyondellBasell considers multiple facets. From an Occupational Health perspective, the company routinely evaluates ways to continuously improve and works to better understand all aspects of work that may impact the health of our workforce. These factors may be associated with acute and chronic concerns.

“Health and safety is not a numbers game for us, it’s about ensuring that our people go home at the end of each day the same way they arrived at work,” said Jeff Bonorden, LyondellBasell Director of Global Safety, Health & HSES Systems. “LyondellBasell is a family and our culture is all about teamwork. Our people are the lifeline for our business, and it’s up to us to ensure we are doing what we can to mitigate potential risks.”

LyondellBasell takes a deliberate and focused look at the way its manufacturing locations mitigate ergonomic risks by properly identifying forces. LyondellBasell continues to improve its understanding of chemical hazards using advances in technology to allow real-time assessments and trend analysis.

Leveraging Technology

“We are now using a new toolkit to accurately measure push/pull forces, weights, peak forces, and sustained forces over a period of time,” explained Bonorden. “This tool allows us to measure a variety of ergonomic hazards in the workplace and provide consistent risk rankings for tasks such as turning valves, pushing/pulling carts, and lifting items.”

LyondellBasell is also using an ‘ErgoSuit,’ which is worn by a worker that can, in real-time, provide muscle exertion forces using electromyography (measuring the electrical output of muscles). The data from this specialized suit is then analyzed and converted into a risk score.

Health and safety is not a numbers game for us, it’s about ensuring that our people go home at the end of each day the same way they arrived at work

When evaluating risks, maintaining objectivity is important and using tools like this to judge risk has proven to be more effective and less subjective. For example, LyondellBasell found instances where a task appeared to be very strenuous, but the data revealed it was a low risk. In contrast, items that did not appear to be high risk tasks proved otherwise.

“Technology is helping to improve our risk assessment processes by making them more accurate and repeatable, and it also removes potential biases,” stated Bonorden. “In our European locations, we are in the early stages of piloting the use of an exoskeleton to determine if this technology could be used for certain repetitive roles performed by our workers.”

While it is important to understand the levels of physical exertion, dust or particulate matter is another area the company is using technology to improve its analysis. LyondellBasell recently acquired a piece of equipment that can instantaneously measure concentrations of dust in the air that can discriminate based on the size of dust, all while saving the data over the duration of sampling. Of particular interest is PM2.5– particles with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, which is more than 100 times thinner than a piece of human hair and can remain suspended in air for a longer period of time. LyondellBasell can instantly measure PM2.5 levels anywhere in our workplace. This allows for real-time understanding of the company’s dust levels that can help drive decisions to improve or implement engineering controls and determine effective personal protective equipment.

LyondellBasell also implemented a system to document its workforce’s chemical exposure monitoring results and all of its health risk assessments performed over the last 15 years. The company is in the process of upgrading its legacy system, and the upgrade will allow for better information analysis, as well as identify trends and generate reports.

Lastly, the company aims to stay on the cutting edge in how we manage our response to COVID-19. LyondellBasell implemented electronic gate screening, installed temperature scanners at many of its facilities, and utilized web “apps” to log close contacts allowing for quick response in the event an individual tests positive and contact tracing needs to be performed.

“Transparency and open communication with our workforce during COVID-19 has been an important factor, which is why we created dashboards,” stated Bonorden. “Our dashboards allow our workforce to see positive COVID-19 cases by site, as well as the number of personnel testing positive or having symptoms. We use another dashboard to track the effectiveness of our entry screening process, social distancing compliance, and use of face coverings.”

Safety is first and foremost at LyondellBasell, and if there is one takeaway to be captured, it is that its workforce is priority number one.