The Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA) recently announced that more than 20 SOCMA member facilities will receive 2019 Performance Improvement Awards. Now in its 13th year, SOCMA continues to honor companies that are leading in the areas of environmental, health, safety, and security (EHS&S). Following a refreshed judging criteria, 29 facilities have achieved this standard. The awards will be presented during the inaugural SOCMA Week in New Orleans, December 4-6.

“Plant safety and operational excellence don’t just happen at a chemical facility; it takes hard work and buy-in from the president’s office to the plant floor,” said Joe Dettinger, senior director of Compliance & Stewards at SOCMA. “In 2019, two SOCMA member companies have been recognized for their exceptional efforts to create a safety culture within their facilities that includes implementation of procedures, processes and training that are strengthening their environmental, health, safety and security programs.”

Nation Ford Chemical and VanDeMark Chemical will receive SOCMA’s highest honor—the Gold Performance Improvement Award. They will be recognized along with Silver and Bronze Performance Improvement Award winners and Sustainability and Educational Outreach Award recipients.

“Safety is a core value and high priority for our members and our association,” said Dettinger. “SOCMA’s 2019 Gold Award winners—Nation Ford Chemical and VanDeMark Chemical have made exemplary strides and steadfast efforts to provide safe work environments for their employees, as well as the quality of life in the communities where they live. By fully embracing EHS&S excellence, they are setting a standard for the industry to follow, and we encourage them and all of our winners to continue this exceptional commitment to safety.”

Nation Ford demonstrated its commitment to success by investing more than $1 million in a new 2,500-sq-ft Employee Training Facility to improve the functionality of safety training. Nation Ford also conducts communications meetings with key stakeholders that have led to zero incidents and no OSHA recordable rates in 2019. Judges were impressed that Nation Ford’s technical staff spent 100 manhours creating a database to catalog prevalent EHS&S regulations and classification of all chemicals at the facility. Nation Ford also installed an industry-leading emergency containment system between its operations and the nearby river that resulted from a non-required plant study on “What-Ifs” concerning catastrophic releases from events such as tornadoes.

Exceptional stakeholder communication and a commitment to a strong safety culture are among the outstanding EHS&S efforts that led to VanDeMark’s first-ever Gold Award. A crucial part of stakeholder communication is the company’s interaction with community groups, providing critical information on a routine basis. Underpinning the company’s strong safety culture, VanDeMark has a Stop/Call/Wait policy, where employees are encouraged to stop operations for any concern. The company also has an incentive-based program that targets leading indicators as a mechanism to drive 100% compliance on key safety procedures.

Silver Performance Improvement Awards will be presented to 11 facilities showing excellence in one of the five ChemStewards Core Principles: Stakeholder Communications, Product Stewardship, EHS&S in Planning and Operations, Employee Training and Engagement, and Resource Management and Waste Minimization. Seventeen SOCMA member facilities will also receive a Bronze Performance Improvement Award for maintaining strong EHS&S programs that are also based on each of the five ChemStewards Core Principles.

“Acknowledging excellence and learning from those companies going above-and-beyond industry standards are how specialty and fine chemical manufacturers will continue to excel in environmental, health and safety efforts,” said Jennifer Abril, SOCMA president and CEO. “We look forward to celebrating their success at our annual dinner in New Orleans. Congratulations again on these outstanding accomplishments and well-deserved honors."

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