On 21-22 September 2015, BASF – with ISOPA’s support – organised the latest Carrier Day in Antwerp, Belgium. “What’s a ´Carrier Day´?” – you’ll rightfully ask, if you’re not familiar with the polyurethane industry jargon. Carrier Day is a workshop organised every two years by the diisocyanates and polyols industry in order to “nudge” transport operators to ensure outmost safety when handling chemical substances.
What makes Carrier Days useful?
Over the years, safe handling of chemical substances has improved tremendously. Nonetheless, according to Frederick Pieters, BASF’s Head of supply chain for isocyanates, ensuring the safety of unloading operations requires constant effort; this is due to fragmented rules and often a lack of communication between all actors in the value chain.
This is the reason, as underlined by Kristine Dewaele, ISOPA’s Office Manager, why ISOPA has been working with its members and the value chain producers in order to:
- Raise awareness and increase understanding of best practice in the handling of chemicals.
- Develop awareness of the risks involved in the use of chemicals. For example, in case of an incident during unloading operations, the driver has to follow the instructions given by the unloading crew. He remains responsible for his own safety; however, he must comply with the safety rules on site.
- Provide advice on first aid and managing spillages.
This year, BASF’s fire department provided an introductory presentation; it focused on instances when the chemical industry has to work with authorities in the context of an incident. The contribution was a showstopper – the audience was all ears, considering operators’ commitment to safety in the workplace and that all successful safety trainings will have benefits for compliant companies.
Aside from the series of presentations, transport operators who participated in the Carrier Day attended a live exercise simulating an emergency scenario. It was an excellent opportunity for operators to put the knowledge they acquired to the test and to manage extreme circumstances, similar to the ones they’d get in an emergency situation.
What are the main learnings for ISOPA?
The Carrier Day re-confirmed that transporting chemicals is a specialist activity that requires a high level of responsibility. The carriers contracted by ISOPA’s member companies, are specialised in the transport of MDI and TDI and their drivers have followed a special training in the transport of these substances. However, the Carrier Days are attended by their managers and not the drivers themselves.
In its upcoming editions, ISOPA would like to take Carrier Days a step forward.
The objective: Engaging directly with the drivers themselves, in addition to engaging with managers of transport operators. Learning from the drivers’ experience will make the Carrier Day even more relatable as it will enable interaction between managers and their drivers, as would be done in reality.
Drivers already receive a dedicated ISOPA training however working closely with their employers on safety issues would enable to bridge some potential communication gaps and ensure the highest level of safety.