INDUSTRY INSIGHTThought Leadership

Achieving more with Responsible Care

Responsible Care is widely recognized for the way it helps companies communicate their health, safety and environmental performance to stakeholders. But used internally it can achieve so much more, as CP Chem’s Kate Holzhauser relates

The Responsible Care program, now running for over 30 years, is widely recognised and accepted as the chemical industry’s voluntary initiative to improve its safety, health and environmental performance, enhance security, and communicate with stakeholders.

As a brand, Responsible Care has very high recognition in over 65 countries, says Kate Holzhauser, Vice President for EHS&S at US chemical major Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem), and a speaker at GPCA’s second Responsible Care conference on 6-8 May.

“This voluntary program is our commitment to communicate to stakeholders and work beyond what is laid down in regulations, to ensure we are the best stewards of the environment, and to make sure our workplaces are safe for our employees.

“It is important we align with the brand and unite behind its message – that we are accountable to all those around us.”

“It is important we align with the brand and unite behind its message”
Kate Holzhauser, Vice President, EHS&S, CP Chem

Responsible Care creates, she says, a common language and common approach that companies around the world can use in their EHS&S commitment. And, because it has been supported as an initiative by leading industry executives and closely guarded and audited, the integrity of the initiative and the brand has been protected.

“It’s worth noting that not all companies sign up to Responsible Care, as it requires an explicit decision to adopt industry-leading best practices. It would only take a few bad apples to tarnish the brand.”

But she adds, at CP Chem, Responsible Care means and delivers much more. By embedding its concepts and practices in the way it operates, CP Chem ensures it delivers good performance and operational excellence.

“We use the entire Responsible Care framework as the foundation of our [manufacturing] system.” Before it embraced Responsible Care around eight years ago, CP Chem had an ad hoc approach to developing operating standards.

But when we used Responsible Care, we found it pulled everything together and allowed a best practice approach.”

As a result CP Chem has seen improvements in operational excellence in many facets of the business. Holzhauser points to areas such as injury rate, environmental performance, process safety and events and reliability as all benefiting from the systematic application of Responsible Care practices.

“Using the Responsible Care framework has enabled us to create an operating discipline about what we do and how we do it. It makes clear what our practices and policies are going to be and how these are rolled out [in the business] and then audited.

“It brings a discipline and rigor to the process and changes the culture as well.” The result, she notes, is that costs are down, safety is up and operating reliability is improved.

CP Chem is still building on the approach although the system is fully operational at this time. “Because it is becoming more and more structural, it really institutionalizes best practices. We are really leveraging it at this time.”

As a company, CP Chem has taken a centralized approach to its EHS&S activities. There is a central group which acts as the “keeper of the standards.”  Then in the businesses, there are lead personnel in EHS&S and process settings who work with the organization to identify best practices and standards against which to work.

When needs for new standards are identified, these are developed at the central level and road tested for ability to execute. They then have to be endorsed by a policy committee before being widely implemented.

After a period of time, explains Holzhauser, the standards and their implementation are assessed by an independent in-house corporate audit team and an improvement cycle is embarked upon to achieve optimal value for the company.

“The audit team does a lot of its own auditing and compliance work on safety and Responsible Care, supplemented with expertise from across the organization.” But of course, the company’s Responsible Care activity is also audited by an independent third party, as required by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) in the US.

Not all companies will take or need to take such a centralized approach. Many, she offers, take a more local site-by-site approach.

Responsible Care commits companies, industry associations and partners to:

  • Continuously improve the environmental, health, safety and security knowledge and performance of our technologies, processes and products over their life cycles so as to avoid harm to people and the environment.
  • Use resources efficiently and minimize waste.
  • Report openly on performance, achievements and shortcomings.
  • Listen, engage and work with people to understand and address their concerns and expectations.
  • Cooperate with governments and organizations in the development and implementation of effective regulations and standards, and to meet or go beyond them.
  • Provide help and advice to foster the responsible management of chemicals by all those who manage and use them along the product chain.

CP Chem embraces Responsible Care

As a member of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Chevron Phillips Chemical participates in the Responsible Care program for its domestic petrochemical manufacturing facilities, product lines, headquarters, and research and technology operations. Chevron Phillips Chemical’s Operational Excellence System is designed to fulfil ACC’s Responsible Care Management System requirements.

Commenting on Responsible Care more widely, Holzhauser says she believes implementation needs to be localized to make it relevant to the way business works in various regions around the world. This is especially so in the area of communication with key stakeholders and reporting of key performance indicators, for example. “How you get out and talk with external stakeholders is very important… creating a dialogue is a key principal in Responsible Care.”

In the GCC region, she adds, she has been “really impressed” at the thought leadership and implementation that GPCA has achieved. “It has embraced it well and the GPCA conference is leading the way and updating and extraction of value will happen more quickly as a result.”

The GCC chemical producers need to look at how they organize themselves around Responsible Care and have a system in place to make sure they execute well, she adds.