We systematically identify, assess and control risks across the entire lifecycle of our products – from materials purchasing through manufacturing to use of our products by our customers. Our activities here are built on standards that target core product stewardship process steps:
- New product launches
- Classification and labelling of chemicals and hazardous substances
- Introduction and sale of critical chemicals
- Creation of safety datasheets
- Safety audits at customer sites
- Management of liability risks associated with new products and applications
- Transport of gases
We start analysing the safety, health and environmental risks that may occur at any point in a product’s lifecycle at the development phase. Our new product introduction (NPI) process outlines the different steps that have to be taken before a product can be brought to market.
We use a carefully defined process to assess the potential risks for people and the environment during the production, handling and use of our products. This process includes an analysis of the risk category, ecological and social impact and toxicity. We then document the findings in a global database that serves as a central source of information for transport safety measures. This information is also used to draft safety datasheets.
In 2011 we published a new global standard and training materials for asbestos management in our operations. These outline all steps required to ensure that asbestos materials are handled and disposed of safely. We also approved a new standard on the safe handling of chemical and biological agents in the workplace.
Legal requirements and international standards
The European Union has reformed the law governing chemicals in the EU. The REACH regulation stipulates that all companies manufacturing or importing chemical substances in the EU in quantities of one tonne or more per year must assess the health risks and environmental impact of these chemicals and register them according to a strict timeline. The Linde Group meets all requirements set down in REACH to the full extent. To do this, we set up a project team of over 30 specialists across Europe to coordinate compliance with REACH. We work actively with the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) and other industry associations to ensure compliance. In addition, we work with our customers and suppliers to ensure successful execution.
On our REACH website, we provide detailed information on how we are meeting our legal obligations within the framework of REACH as a manufacturer, importer and user. We also detail the substances we have registered and explain how we inform our customers and suppliers about this. Approximately 4 percent of our revenue is attributable to products subject to REACH regulations.
Products and packaging are also labelled in line with international and local statutory regulations and international standards. At the beginning of 2011, we completed notification of the classification and labelling of our substances in compliance with the European Union’s CLP regulations. We have registered 133 substances under CLP.
Our product stewardship programme goes beyond minimum legal requirements. It also aligns with the Global Product Strategy (GPS) guidelines for the safe handling of chemical substances issued by the International Council of Chemical Associations and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for the classification and labelling of chemicals published by the UN.
Safety when using our products
We provide our customers and the general public with information about our products in the form of safety datasheets. These are available in the languages of all countries in which we operate. When we hand over our products to our customers, we want to make sure that they are informed of all necessary safety measures and understand our products and their properties. We therefore provide extensive information on the handling, storing and labelling of gas products. This information can also be easily accessed online.
We also offer special customer safety training sessions covering the properties of gases, potential risks and important safety measures for transport, use and storage. We complement our offering here with an extensive portfolio of gas supply services ranging from risk assessment through the creation of explosion protection documents to the inspection, maintenance and repair of customer gas supply systems. Specially trained Linde employees carry out risk analyses at customer sites prior to delivery to determine whether all criteria for the safe and proper handling of gases have been met. In 2011, we carried out 460 audits of this kind at our customer sites. Our emergency teams are also on hand to help customers outside of business hours and at weekends.