Creating Safe, Healthful Working Environments

We take the fire and explosion that occurred at our Yokkaichi Plant in January 2014 extreme seriously, and are joining forces as a group to create working environments that are safer, more secure and as pleasant as possible, both mentally and physically.

Basic Approach

Our basic management philosophy here at the Mitsubishi Materials Group is to put safety and health first in everything we do. This is based on the notion that, if we can't keep our employees safe and healthy, they won't be able to provide secure and happy lives for their families, we won't be able to operate effectively, and we will never be able keep on expanding as a company.

Companywide Basic Policy on Safety and Health Management

  1. We will carry out safety and health activities based on full participation from all employees, underpinned by leadership and initiative from the President and other managing personnel.
  2. We will ensure that all employees comply with the Industrial Safety and Health Act and other applicable legislation, manuals and operating procedures, and establish a workplace culture whereby everyone follows the rules and ensures that others do too.
  3. We will make every effort to create pleasant workplaces that are healthy for both body and mind, for all employees, through activities aimed at creating open workplaces and promoting health.
  4. We will take preventive measures in accordance with Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare guidelines on the prevention of work-related traffic accidents and improve road etiquette amongst all employees, in order to eliminate traffic accidents based on our commitment to promoting road safety activities as an example to society as a whole.

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Framework

In the wake of the fire and explosion at our Yokkaichi Plant in January 2014, we launched a new Zero Accident Project in April that same year, and set about strengthening the foundations of safety and health on a groupwide scale, with the aim of eliminating accidents resulting in four or more lost days. Our safety management framework revolves around the Mitsubishi Materials Safety & Health Department. We also appoint Safety Coordinators at each in-house company, in order to share information regarding progress and issues with safety and health measures at plants / factories under their management, including group companies, with the Safety & Health Department via monthly meetings, and to consult regarding solutions. We have an integrated groupwide promotion framework in place whereby Safety Coordinators take part in Zero Accident Working Group Meetings, to report on and discuss matters that extend beyond the confines of individual companies.
At the same time, Safety Department Managers, Safety Coordinators and Safety Instructors are assigned to individual plants / factories, where their role is to promote safety activities. We hold regular groupwide Safety Department Manager Meetings and Safety Coordinator & Instructor Meetings, in an effort to exchange information regarding an array of accidents and safety activities, as a group spanning a wide range of different industries, and to improve standards of safety and health.

FrameworkFramework

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Management Priorities

Labor union and management work together to achieve our goal of eliminating accidents. That involves identifying groupwide safety and health issues based on accidents that occurred the previous year, and engaging in discussions to determine management priorities that need to be implemented, in order to resolve those issues. In 2015, we set out the following management priorities, and rolled out occupational safety and health management systems at each of our plants / factories accordingly.

Companywide Safety and Health Management Priorities (FY2016)

Top priority initiatives

Continue to improve risk detection capabilities and ensure compliance with safety rules
  • Organize training on subjects such as risk assessment and hazard prediction, and increase sensitivity to risks through practical hazard simulation training and tools such as "near-misses".
  • Improve awareness, education and compliance with safety and health legislation, internal and workplace safety rules, and operating manuals and instructions. (Use of Green/Yellow/Red award and warning scheme)

Priority initiatives

Improve standards of safety and health through the effective implementation of occupational safety and health management systems
1. Preventing Occupational Accidents ① Carry out operations safely
  • Clearly reinforce safe operating instructions
  • Check compliance with operating procedures and safety instructions through patrols carried out by Safety Instructors and managing personnel
② Improve skills
  • Expand, evaluate and improve safety and health training
③ Improve facilities and procedural safety
  • Address residual risks based on the results of risk assessments, and take steps to ensure machine safety
2. Create mentally and physically pleasant workplaces ①Step up mental healthcare initiatives
②Promote measures to maintain and improve employee health, and improve working environments, in order to prevent work-related diseases.

Group occupational safety and health systemchart

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Expanding Safety and Health Activities

Improving risk detection capabilities and ensuring compliance with safety rules

Training in risk assessment and hazard prediction, and making use of hazard simulation and "near-misses"

Hazard simulation training is an effective way to increase hazard sensitivity amongst employees. Some of our plants / factories and group companies have hazard simulation facilities onsite, and use them to provide training that reflects the nature of their operations. At plants / factories that don't have their own hazard simulation facilities, we try to get as many employees as possible to undergo hazard simulation training via outside organizations.
Risk assessments meanwhile are triggered by near-misses, hazard prediction activities and irregular operations. We then work to improve the safety of equipment and operations where we have identified potential risks.

Improving awareness, education and compliance with safety and health legislation, internal and workplace safety rules, and operating manuals and instructions

As part of our efforts to strengthen compliance with safety rules, plant managers, managers and Safety Instructors conduct workplace patrols, with the aim of identifying unsafe conduct and safety rules posing difficulties in terms of compliance.
In January 2015, we also introduced the Green/Yellow/Red award and warning scheme for employees at domestic group companies. Employees at each facility, including affiliated companies and subcontractors, receive continuing education on our safety rules. If they are found to have breached the rules, they are issued with a yellow or red card, in line with regulations. In some cases, cards are issued to the employee's manager as well. The employee is given a warning and asked to submit a written statement outlining what they have learnt. Activities such as these are designed to reinforce compliance with safety rules. On the other hand, if an employee has prevented a serious accident, taken steps to significantly improve equipment safety, or engaged in other conduct that makes them stand out in terms of an example to their colleagues, they are presented with a green card and widely praised for their outstanding achievements.

Preventing Occupational Accidents

Carrying out operations safely

We have revised operating procedures so that their contents are easier for operators to understand, including making extensive use of diagrams and photos, and trying to use quantitative, specific expressions. We have also verified that the contents of procedures coincide with the reality of operations, by getting operators to carry out operations in accordance with the relevant procedures and asking multiple parties, including other departments, to check the results. Measures such as checking the validity of procedures from an outside perspective enable us to make ongoing improvements so that we can enhance operational safety. Other measures include incorporating hazard prediction and risk detection into irregular work such as repairs, equipment maintenance and fixing breakdowns, in an effort to ensure safe operations.

Improving skills

We provide introductory training for new recruits and newly transferred employees, as well as seminars and hazard simulation training for employees from affiliated companies and subcontractors. We also organize safety and health training in line with individual positions, in an effort to elevate human resources to the next level.

Improving equipment and procedural safety

We engage in a range of initiatives aimed at improving facilities safety, including conducting risk assessments when installing or modifying facilities. We are also constantly working to systematically monitor and reduce residual risks.

Creating Mentally and Physically Pleasant Workplaces

Stepping up mental healthcare initiatives

We continually provide mental healthcare training as a form of primary preventive care for mental health issues. As part of "line-care" training for managing personal, clinical psychologists from Head Office are scheduled to visit all of our sites over a two-year period. In terms of "self-care" training meanwhile, we select members of staff at each facility to undergo training, so that they can assume the role of instructors as we roll out training to all employees. We also provide mental health training as part of our global human resource and position-specific training programs, in an effort to prevent employees from experiencing mental health issues.
By way of secondary and tertiary preventive care, we continue to offer meetings and consultations with industrial physicians, health visitors, nurses and clinical psychologists at each of our sites, as well as using external back-to-work programs to enable employees to reintegrate smoothly into their jobs and prevent them from having to take further time off. We operate a stress-check system, and organize the likes of Industrial Physician Meetings and Health Coordinator Meetings, in order to firmly establish awareness of the company's policies and direction, and to provide support to ensure that the stress-check system is implemented effectively on a companywide basis. We will continue to take steps to prevent employees from having to take time off, to make it easier for those who have suffered from mental health issues to come back to work, and to prevent employees from suffering relapses, as we continue to build on our mental health systems in the future.

Promoting measures to maintain and improve employee health, and improve working environments, in order to prevent work-related diseases

Healthy employees are an essential resource for any company. That is our attitude to health management, as we continually work to improve health systems.
Since August 2015, we have been giving employees health advice after their regular health checks, provided by health visitors from Head Office, and have also been offering advice on improving lifestyles, in the interests of detecting and treating illness as early as possible and preventing lifestyle-related diseases. We continue to follow up on cases requiring ongoing advice via channels such as emails or telephone calls from Head Office. We intend to keep on providing health advice in the future, including via video phone. We also publish a regular health newsletter called "Kenko Dayori", in an effort to raise levels of health awareness amongst employees.
To prevent work-related diseases meanwhile, we are committed to stepping up management of hazardous substances (poisonous substances, toxic substances, chemicals) and exposure prevention measures, as part of management procedures for relevant operations. Following on from 2015, we are continuing to work on chemical substance risk assessments in line with revisions to the Industrial Safety and Health Act.

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Strengthening Safety and Health Systems

Providing training for risk assessment instructors

In October 2015, we began providing training for risk assessment instructors on a nationwide scale, with the aim of making further improvements to workplace risk assessment activities. With instructors playing a lead role at each facility, we hope that this will improve risk detection in manufacturing workplaces in the future.

Offering safety and health advice via outside consultants

Analysis of previous accidents suggests that one of the key causes has been insufficient risk detection on both hardware (equipment) and software (conduct) levels. With that in mind, we provide safety and health advice via outside consultants at directly managed plants / factories and group companies. Thanks to their expert diagnosis, we have been able to identify potential risks that we had gone unnoticed during the course of our routine risk assessment activities. As well as raising safety standards in the workplace, this has also enabled us to improve hazards sensitivity amongst employees.

Establishing an Occupational Safety and Health Education Center

Artist's impression of the completed Occupational Safety and Health Education 
CenterArtist's impression of the completed Occupational Safety and Health Education Center

We have decided to build a Occupational Safety and Health Education Center at our premises in Saitama Prefecture, to spearhead safety and health education on a groupwide scale. Construction is underway with an eye to completing the center in January 2017. The center will feature hazard simulation equipment designed to improe hazard sensitivity, share information and lessons learnt from previous accidents throughout the group, provide access to visual equipment designed to help prevent similar accidents, and offer education in areas such as legislation and hygiene.
Having established the Occupational Safety and Health Education Center as an organization in April 2016, we are now working to train instructors, who will play a central role in hazard simulation training.

Establishing a safety award scheme

Having established a groupwide award scheme for both organizations and individuals, we presented the first awards in April 2016, in recognition of outstanding safety improvement activities over the course of the year. The table below lists the organizations that were presented with awards this year, and their achievements. We are keen to expand awards to cover outstanding activities at all group companies in the future, in the hope that this will help to establish a safety culture.

Grand Prize
Kyushu Plant Enhanced hazard prediction (KY, which means Japanese words kiken yochi) initiatives
Akashi Plant AT (Act Training) as part of independent safety activities
Outstanding Achievement Award
Mitsubishi Materials Electronic Chemicals Co., Ltd. Completely accident free record throughout the year

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Safety Record

Although the total number of employees involved in accidents was down in 2015 compared to the previous three years, our safety record shows that three employees were involved in accidents requiring them to take leave (compared to 10 the previous year), with an accident frequency rate of 0.27.
In terms of our safety record at group companies in 2015 meanwhile, 15 employees were involved in accidents requiring them to take leave, with 47 employees involved in accidents not requiring them to take leave. The frequency rate for accidents was 0.82 (22 major manufacturing group companies, based on calendar years).

Number of Accidents Involving Employees (Mitsubishi Materials)*Number of Accidents Involving Employees (Mitsubishi Materials)*

* Figures are based on calendar years and do not include minor accidents

Striving to create a strong groupwide safety culture

Shigemitsu FukushimaShigemitsu Fukushima
Executive Officer
General Manager, Safety & Health Department

The term "safety culture" originated from the investigation into the causes of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. These days, it is used across a wide range of different industries to refer to a corporate culture that places top priority on the safety and health of the company's employees, through measures such as investigating risks, eliminating hazards associated with machinery, equipment and operations, and reinforcing safety education across professional activities in general (as defined on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website).
To ensure that the Mitsubishi Materials Group is competitive in the global arena, we have to ensure that our manufacturing technology is underpinned by a commitment to safety, in terms of preventing accidents, alongside considerations such as the environment, quality and stable production. To achieve that mission, we need each and every employee to take their professional responsibilities seriously and perform all assigned tasks to the letter. We also need to get into the habit of quickly identifying risks and issues, and implementing appropriate solutions, based on an open, fair and reliable organizational culture, and healthy personal relationships.
Due for completion in January 2017, our Occupational Safety and Health Education Center is set to become an important facility in terms of enhancing safety and health training throughout the group. As preparations get underway, we are determined that the center will become a focal point for sharing the group's safety culture.
Taking on board lessons learnt from accidents in the past, not least the serious accident at the Yokkaichi Plant, we intend to place top priority on the safety and health of all of our employees, and to implement a range of measures aimed at establishing a stronger safety culture throughout the Mitsubishi Materials Group, in order to earn the trust of our customers and local communities in the vicinity of our plants / factories, as a reliable group from the point of view of disaster prevention and security too.

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Initiatives to Prevent a Recurrence of the Explosion and Fire at the Yokkaichi Plant

For Preventing recurrence

Hazard Simulation Class (Yokkaichi Plant)Hazard Simulation Class (Yokkaichi Plant)

We take the gravity of the explosion and fire that occurred at our Yokkaichi Plant on January 9, 2014 very seriously, and are continuing to implement a range of companywide initiatives to ensure that no tragic accident like this will ever happen again.
To start with, we have taken preventive measures in relation to both operating procedures and equipment, and had measures checked by the Accident Investigation Committee, to ensure that maintenance can be carried out safely on heat exchangers, which was the cause of this accident. In December 2014, we completed a dedicated cleaning station for heat exchangers (equipment maintenance station), complete with protective walls, to enable the procedure that triggered the accident to be carried out remotely. As of June 2016, we have safely carried out maintenance on 10 heat exchangers.
Our next step was to establish a new Hazard Simulation Class in November 2015, to enable employees to experience 11 types of hazard that are liable to occur at the Yokkaichi Plant, with the aim of bolstering the plant's safety culture. All of the plant's employees have taken part in the educational program at the class as of April 2016. We also ask representatives who play important roles in ensuring safety at affiliated companies and subcontractors to attend Health & Safety Committee Meetings at the plant, in order to share relevant information and undergo the aforementioned hazard simulation education.
Although the Yokkaichi Plant has maintained a clear safety record since the accident, we remain fully committed to safety activities in the future.
We have designated January 9 as Safety Declaration Day, to ensure that we never forget the accident. As well as organizing a safety conference, we hold a memorial ceremony at the site where the accident took place.

Key events following the accident
2014 January 9 Explosion and fire occurred at Mitsubishi Materials' Yokkaichi Plant (No.1 Plant), leaving five dead and 13 injured
January 17 Accident Investigation Committee set up, consisting of outside academic experts and in-house specialists
Seven committee meetings held over a five-month period
May Yokkaichi Plant Safety Culture Rebuilding Project launched
June 12 Final report published by the Accident Investigation Committee
June 30 Operational safety confirmed and operations restarted at the Yokkaichi Plant
December New equipment maintenance station completed Maintenance procedures carried out safely thereafter
2015 November Hazard Simulation Cass established
Ongoing education provided for company employees and employees from affiliated companies and subcontractors thereafter

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