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A commitment to safety, health, environment & quality

30 November 2009

The chemical industry is constantly changing and facing numerous challenges to become more sustainable: new regulations, growing costs, environmental impact assessments, increasing globalisation and the economic crisis. Customers and suppliers have continual pressure to keep their costs down while at the same time maintaining standards of quality and excellence.

Univar, a leading global company specialising in the sales, marketing, application and safe, efficient handling of a wide range of chemicals and ingredients, understands these challenges perfectly and knows how to respond to them. The company is firmly focused on having the highest standards of safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) throughout its entire organisation. Whether providing best-in-class services to customers and suppliers or ensuring that employees have a safe working environment, SHEQ is at the core of Univar’s business culture. The company’s U+ certification programme, a goal-based combined management system, requires each site in Europe, Middle East and Africa to continually improve its Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality (SHEQ) performance.

U+, launched in 2006, sets a benchmark for safety standards in the chemical distribution sector, going far beyond the legal requirements. Over 20 Univar sites in EMEA are expected to have received U+ certification by the end of 2009. This standard gives confidence to suppliers and customers that products will be handled and delivered safely and with minimal environmental impact.

"Univar’s dedication to the U+ certification programme demonstrates the emphasis we put on safety, health, environment and quality", said John van Osch, President EMEA, Univar Europe. "U+ is about creating a strong safety culture and also about setting challenges to minimise
The U+ Programme sets out clear requirements for improvement in performance, with each site having to meet a set of pre-determined goals. Before a site can receive U+ certification, it needs to have demonstrated that all the goals have been achieved and that there has been significant improvement made in standards at the site.

The U+ programme is an EMEA-wide programme, and by the end of 2009 a total of 26 sites are expected to have received U+ certification1. In 2010 Univar will continue its focus on U+ certification and it is estimated that a further eight sites will receive this highly regarded recognition. "All of these sites have really made progress whether related to creating a safer working environment, warehousing improvements or implementing good practices to the benefits of our customers and suppliers," said van Osch. "We are extremely proud that these sites are U+ certified as they set an example to all other sites across the region." 

Caring for the health and safety of employees, customers and the environment is Univar’s first priority. By training and educating employees in their own safety and in safe operational procedures for the products handled, Univar ensures the highest levels of safety at its sites and those of customers.

In just two and a half years since the launch of U+, Univar Europe’s Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR) has decreased by more than 60%. Univar Europe now has the lowest LTIR rate in the industry; its sites are seven times safer than the average of other chemical distribution companies. "This extremely low LTIR demonstrates that even in such a harsh economic climate, raising the bar in health, safety and environmental performance is vital to the continued protection of our employees, the environment and in providing increased confidence for customers and suppliers alike." said van Osch.

Univar never compromises on safety, especially not when it comes to customers.. Through the company’s unique system of U+ Pre-Delivery Inspections Univar staff check that customers can safely handle the products delivered. Univar then helps make changes, where required, to meet the U+ standards for delivery. By offering this guidance to customers, Univar ensures that
potential safety risks are eliminated. "Just recently in France we requested a customer to change the delivery process of flammable solvents for safety reasons. We explained the risk factors and offered an optimized solution for their deliveries. The customer very much appreciated our expertise and guidance and this has helped us build a stronger relationship. They have now decided to switch completely to Univar for all delivery needs based on our expertise in safety," explained Christophe Jacob, country director, Univar France.

Operating from 56 distribution locations in 20 countries across Europe, Univar’s 2,400 local employees serve more than 50,000 European customers in a diverse range of industries including coatings, food, personal care, pharma and other major sectors.

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