Best Practices in a Safety Culture: BASF Safety Champions

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Within the series of best practices in a safety culture drawn from the Safety Culture and Best Practices Guide that we have developed for Foment del Treball employers, today we will talk about BASF “Safety Champions”.

BASF is the leading chemical company in the world: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from basic chemical products, plastics and finishing products, to agricultural products and fine chemicals as well as oil and natural gas.

How did the initiative come about?

Safety Champions is a global campaign from the company that began in Spain in 2011 under the name Active Safety. Today, a culture of safety is fully implemented in BASF, a milestone that has been achieved by means of safety leadership and the company’s Spanish management, who have worked hard the last five years. It started from a situation at on a plant level where employees worked under the traditional industrial culture: “Production comes first”. However, in recent years there has been a significant change in leadership at BASF that has reversed this situation by means of this campaign.



  • Changing the culture of safety, internalizing attitudes and behaviours, and changing habits to act safely, both in private life and at work.

What is involved?

The campaign is divided into four pillars:

  • Visible leadership: It is based on carrying out a management that demonstrates a credible and visible commitment to safety. It consists of a good example, making safety a priority value and guaranteeing clarity in all matters relating to safety.
  • Individual responsibility: The employees of the company are involved in both their own safety and that of their peers, and they contribute to safety with their knowledge and experience.
    BASF management involves employees in safety-related processes.
  • Open dialogue: The company employees make a commitment to behaving safely and being responsible for their own safety and that of others. They comply with the rules and regulations, act sensibly in the face of risk and dangers, and learn from mistakes.
  • Employee involvement: The management and employees speak openly about safety within a climate of trust throughout the organization. At the same time, they promote learning processes, respecting knowledge and experience.


To achieve this they have worked on improving commitment by means of 3 keys:

  • The manager of each centre feels and develops the safety plan as his own, and therefore it is tailored to each individual centre
  • Support and help from a functional manager or expert in each specific area
  • Safety plan is a modular tool for each type of workplace

All of this for promoting transparency, participation, equitable treatment, and the proactive involvement of all employees.

Based on this campaign, a series of measures aimed at achieving the objectives indicated were applied:

  • Implementation of a system of positive indicators: BASF has worked in the reporting and performance indicators, introducing positive indicators as a tool to reverse the classic safety analysis based on negative indicators (accidents). In this sense, they take into account the reported incidents, training hours per employee, the proposed improvements, etc., and all of this is reflected in an overall indicator of health & safety that economically impacts the remuneration of management.
  • Proactive culture: The company pursues advancing in safety even more, not just staying in compliance with procedures but a proactive culture based on listening to employees, carrying  out projects based on proposals from employees and agreeing on procedures. That is, the guidelines should go from the top to the bottom, but the procedures from the bottom to the top. A field team drafts and revises the procedures.
    The aim is to ensure that culture is transmitted to one another, that the person most involved infects others and corrects attitudes. The goal is to internalize the safety culture.
  • Incident reporting: The goal is to encourage employee participation, dedramatizing the act of reporting incidents. The person reporting is invited to participate in the investigation and provide feedback.
  • Control of safety quality in subcontractors: BASF has a system for evaluating safety standards for providers, to which a policy of bonus/malus is applied based on their performance in occupational health and safety.
  • Coordination of business activities (CAE): BASF’s CAE policy is part of a control project from the suppliers of the Chemical Business Association of Tarragona (AEQT), consisting of an initial pre-evaluation in which suppliers demand compliance with some very demanding safety requirements for health and safety, as well as a complete training process for outsiders who must work in companies associated with AEQT.


Since its implementation has been improved by 70% in lower accident rates and has improved a safety climate by 50%. Today employees perceive safety as a very important value: the company provides them safety.

The objectives of the company for 2020 are still to achieve:


Key aspects of good practice for improving the safety culture

  • Workers are an essential part of the learning system of the organisation, reporting incidents and engaging in the goal of improvements.
  • Being proactive in listening, the organisation seeks the opinion of the workers.
  • The safety effort is measured with positive indicators, and intermediate indicators.
  • Transferring its safety culture to suppliers, through a proactive coordination of business activities.

More information about BASF’s occupational safety policy at the following link.



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