We continue to pursue excellence in occupational health and safety to better protect our employees, contractors, neighbors and the environment from hazards.
Our employees are our most valuable asset, and it is our responsibility as an employer to provide a safe work environment and promote wellness across the workforce. This focus on health and safety has been deeply ingrained at Cabot throughout our history and serves as a central theme in our culture. Our goal is for all employees to return home in the same condition as when they arrived at work.
As part of our Drive to Zero initiative, we have set a long-term goal of having no injuries at our facilities worldwide. Recognizing that it may take many years to achieve this ambitious goal, we also established a nearer-term target of being represented in the top 10% of our peer chemical companies for safety performance. To help meet these goals, we provide training to all employees on safety procedures that meets or exceeds all applicable government regulations and internal standards.
While we saw a slight uptick in incidents in 2021, we also achieved strong safety performance by focusing on personal accountability for safety, segregation of tasks, and COVID-19 protocols. We continue to investigate what factors influenced the rise in accidents and have implemented a Forklift Safety Improvement Plan at all our facilities. Through this initiative, each site developed a targeted action plan with site-specific actions to reduce the likelihood of incident or injury. The plans were implemented in the fall of 2021 and will be reviewed quarterly for progress as we work toward our continuous improvement goal by 2025.
Our approach to process safety emphasizes management systems to control process-related hazards. In 2021, we successfully launched a new internally developed management of change (MOC) software system across all sites. This software will enhance our ability to evaluate and mitigate safety risks before changes occur in our operations. We also started the rollout of our mechanical integrity program to ensure equipment critical to compliance is managed in accordance with good industry practices. The first steps of this rollout occurred in 2021 and will be completed in 2022. While the number of process safety incidents increased in 2021, these incidents were isolated to one site. The site continues to focus on operational strategies to minimize these incidents, which have already begun to yield improvements.
By acting responsibly and promoting safety and environmental excellence throughout our organization, we have established a leadership position among global chemical manufacturing companies with a record of world-class SH&E performance. With a mindset of continuous improvement, we remain focused on further advancing our SH&E performance and our ability to improving the safety of our products and processes.
Guided by our Corporate SH&E Compliance Audit, Assessment and Corrective Action Program Standard, we develop our annual audit schedule using a risk-based approach which includes consideration of factors such as time since last audit, site SH&E performance and tenure of SH&E resources. Our audits are conducted by teams of internal subject matter experts who are supported by external resources, as needed. Each audit includes an evaluation of facility procedures, practices and site conditions to manage compliance with national, state/provincial and local SH&E regulations, internal company standards and industry recognized best practices.
Corrective actions are established for any gaps and closure of those actions is tracked to completion. In 2020, comprehensive SH&E audits were conducted at six locations.
In addition to Corporate SH&E audits, we participate in annual external audits in conjunction with our commitment to Responsible Care and ISO. Our manufacturing facilities also implement annual self-assessment programs as part of our ongoing efforts to continuously evaluate and advance our SH&E compliance performance.
Cabot's Emergency Management program is defined by our Emergency Management Planning Standard which sets out minimum requirements for all our facilities. Included in the Standard are expectations for the identification of risk and potential emergency events; development and implementation of a written Emergency Management Plan, with annual reviews; annual training for all employees and teams on the elements of the plan and testing through drills, exercises and other methods; communication of the plan to local emergency responders and emergency response contractors to ensure sufficient resources will be available if needed.
Cabot has also implemented a Corporate-level Emergency Response and Crisis Communication Plan which identifies a crisis team, defines roles and responsibilities of the members of the team, details steps and communication responsibilities during a crisis event and provides tools and resources for a thorough emergency response.
Elements of our program include detailed procedures for maintenance and inspection of tanks and equipment as well as training requirements to ensure employees, contractors and transporters involved with bulk chemical transfer and storage are trained in the environmentally safe operation, maintenance and inspection of bulk chemical storage tanks, pipelines and transfer areas. We also provide training on our emergency response plans, including through the use of drills, to ensure employees, contractor and transporters are familiar with our emergency response procedures and are aware of their responsibilities during an emergency.
We require contracts with all bulk chemical suppliers and transporters that outline expectations for their transportation and operating procedures as well as use of equipment appropriate for the task. These measures help us to manage our risks as well as ensure compliance with applicable regulations, permits and standards
As part of Cabot’s Enterprise Risk Management program, significant risks are assessed, and appropriate mitigation strategies are reviewed. Transportation risks are included in this process. For those transportation risks that could present more significant outcomes, Cabot has contracted with outside consultants to audit and recommend improvement opportunities which are then acted upon to ensure that these risks are controlled and reduced to the lowest acceptable level.
Before partnering with a contractor, we conduct a thorough prequalification process which includes an evaluation of past safety and environmental performance. Contractors are assessed on their capabilities to manage the specific hazards and risks associated with the work, the qualifications of their team and their SH&E systems.
Each facility provides a comprehensive safety orientation to all contractors prior to beginning work. Retraining is required annually. In addition, contractors must demonstrate they have successfully completed any task-specific training required and that they possess all required qualifications and trade licenses.
Compliance with Cabot's requirements is monitored with field safety observations and auditing of the site's contractor safety management system.
We established global programs to protect the health and safety of all employees and contractors during the pandemic. The goal of these programs was to protect the well-being of our employees and communities through enhanced safety measures while also continuing to produce materials for critical supply chains, such as products needed for medical equipment and infrastructure applications. These safety measures included reducing employee density, enhancing cleaning and enacting distancing protocols at all sites, along with providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees and modifying work procedures to reduce risk.
Cabot’s leadership in safety performance was recognized by the National Safety Council (NSC). Our CEO and President, Sean Keohane, was named among a select list of “CEOs Who ‘Get It.’” NSC honors CEOs whose safety strategy encompasses risk reduction, performance measurement, safety management, solutions, and leadership and employee engagement.
We have implemented several changes to help make our safety programs more efficient and robust. Including refreshed educational campaigns to prevent hand and finger injuries and to reduce hazards, as well as using a more comprehensive contractor safety qualification process to help ensure we are selecting partners whose SH&E values are in line with our own. We also implemented a global system for collecting and maintaining safety data sheets for the materials used at our locations, and continued progress on a comprehensive review of our corporate SH&E standards.