The Importance of Choosing a Chemical Manufacturer with a Culture of Safety

  • April 26, 2023
  • Blog
3 safety helmets and filling out safety information at a desk.

“Better safe than sorry.” It’s an old axiom that’s as true as ever today in the world of chemical manufacturing. Not only is it applicable to the manufacturer itself, but to you as the customer in choosing a supplier. 

A manufacturer with a culture of safety can have a direct impact on your bottom line and make you far happier as a customer than you’d be if you’d settled for a company with questionable safety habits. The following are some of the ways making the right choice in this regard pays off.

How to Create a Strong Safety Culture

Since numerous safety regulations are mandated throughout the manufacturing industry, to classify as a culture of safety a manufacturer must transcend the bare minimum of legal requirements. It does this primarily through employee buy-in: just as a society’s culture includes its shared beliefs, a company’s culture of safety requires a universal, positive attitude for pursuing safety on a daily basis, throughout the organization. 

This is what separates companies in which personnel are preached at about safety, and companies where staff from top to bottom…

  • are encouraged and expected to contribute to the safety culture
  • understand and share a common vision created by a comprehensive safety program
  • continually receive safety education; and
  • expect and receive transparency in all issues related to safety.

Metrics such as TRIR (Total Recordable Incident Rate) and EMR (Experience Modification Rate) can let you know whether you’re in a good place regarding your safety culture, or whether you still have significant work to do. For reference, the average TRIR for chemical manufacturing in 2021 was 2.0

Why Safety Culture is Important for the Manufacturer

Your manufacturer’s safety culture (or lack thereof) can affect…

Product safety: A manufacturer with a culture of safety practices safety by design when creating its products, and maintains that care and concern throughout the product life cycle until it’s in the customer’s hands. This includes regular inspections, correctly completed SDS forms, and more.

Product quality: In manufacturing, safety and quality are inextricably linked. When employees are under stress, quality suffers, as does productivity. (More on this below, but as recently a time period as the COVID years demonstrate the impact of the stress-productivity shortfall). But with a culture of safety established, employees are free to focus and execute their tasks efficiently and precisely. 

Its productivity: A 2017 study found 83% of leaders saw an increase in productivity after implementing a safety program in their manufacturing operations. When a manufacturer is more productive, it can offer shorter lead times, which carries a host of benefits for customers, such as the ability to be nimbler, faster inventory replenishment, better delivery accuracy, and increases in cash flow. 

Its reliability: Unsafe manufacturing environments are inherently unreliable because of the heightened risk of work stoppage due to accidents. The thorough training and inspections that happen amidst a culture of safety naturally lead to products being delivered consistently and on time, without the disruptions of accidents.

The trust between you: A manufacturer that demonstrates care and concern for its employees is much more likely to treat your products with respect than a company where profit takes priority over safety. Moreover, a manufacturer with an unsafe culture may be at additional risk of producing shoddy work as it seeks ways to cut corners in the face of higher costs from lawsuits and penalties and worker shortages from injury leave and employee turnover. 

Your reputation: In the digital age, it is dizzying how quickly a company can come ‘under fire’ by consumers, have its business relationships identified, and for those companies to come under fire, too. And while quickly cutting ties may be simple enough, depending on your contract, replacing your manufacturer’s supply won’t happen overnight. Will your operations be insulated enough to withstand the upheaval until you can contract with someone else?  

The spillover effects: People who work inside strong safety cultures have a higher likelihood than the average citizen of internalizing safety practices. They can then carry these habits over to their private home lives, helping create safer and cleaner communities.  

A Strong Safety Culture Enhances the Manufacturer-Customer Relationship

As industry insiders have noted before, one way to achieve successful supplier relationship management is to treat your supplier like a partner, a valuable part of your business. However, assuming your company is accustomed to prioritizing safety, your gut reaction to a manufacturer who doesn’t do likewise may be to keep it at arm’s length.

Just as a manufacturer’s safety regimen doesn’t become a safety culture until everyone in the organization buys in, a solid relationship between you and your manufacturer requires commitment from both parties involved. If a lack of dedication to safety principles is holding you back from really investing in the partnership, that could be a red flag against continued association. 

On the other hand, a kindred approach to safety between your two companies could reinforce your trust in your decision to partner with a particular manufacturer and lead to a long and mutually successful affiliation. 

“Do It Safely or Not at All” is the Seatex motto and philosophy that permeates everything we do. It’s the foundation of our Operational Safety Program, which includes safety training, incident reviews, and more, overseen by a fully staffed EHS Department with on-site Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).