DSS helps Brazilian sugar giant see 94% reduction in accidents

15 December 2020 Consultancy.lat 4 min. read

One of the Brazil’s largest sugar producers has partnered with consulting firm DuPont Sustainable Solutions to improve the firm’s safety governance and operations. Results in the second phase of Usina Coruripe’s ‘Zero Accident Always’ initiative have shown a 94% reduction in accidents.

With over 9,200 workers, and annual production capacity of 14.4 million tonnes of sugarcane annually (or: 20 million bags of sugar) and 470 million litres of ethanol, Usina Coruripe is the biggest producer of sugar and ethanol in the North-Northeast of Brazil, and one of Latin America’s largest.

Its partnership with DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) began in 2014, after the client had conducted an internal assessment which revealed that 85% of workplace accidents were caused by “unsafe behaviour.” As a result, the company opted to take a proactive approach to safety to improve conditions – something it contacted DSS to help support.

DSS helps Brazilian sugar giant see 94% reduction in accidents

Usina Coruripe has seven operating units: a main office, a logistics terminal and five industrial units: Iturama, Campo Florido, Limeira do Oeste, Carneirinho and Coruripe. In order to ensure the same standards were met across all the locations, DSS helped create a new health and safety training programme named ‘Zero Accident Always’, based on the company’s Safety Policy, to implement in every one of the client’s operating units.

The first phase of the change initiative focused on the implementation of ‘STOP,’ a world-renowned behavioural observation programme, with 21 STOP groups trained by DSS consultants and plant trainers. Meanwhile, DSS oversaw the creation of a STOP Subcommittee for each operational unit, responsible for analysing the programme’s monthly data and determining the necessary action plans.

Thanks to this, and the addition of a Daily Safety Dialogue (DSD) to disseminate the Subcommittee’s findings and plans – and a Central Safety Committee Meeting held monthly with Usina Coruripe’s president and directors – safety became ingrained and valued by the organisation.

Commenting on the changes, Usina Coruripe’s Director of Human Resources Fábio Moniz said, “When walking through the plant, it is easy to find an employee who is worried about his colleague’s posture and demands a safe attitude. The team learned that by taking care of your colleague’s safety, you are preserving your own.”

Fast forward

The changes were still not complete, however. In 2017, the Brazilian company called upon the consultancy to sustain the results of its first phase of work, as well as to further improve its safety practices to reduce risks and accidents. The new project developed by the consultants worked on two distinct fronts: supporting the improvement of the company’s process safety management system (PSM); and the promotion of a safety culture.

Understanding that leaders and managers can be key role models when moulding corporate culture, several training sessions were conducted with DSS consultants. The focuses of these included development of core competencies of supervisors and leaders; improvement of the capacities of directors, managers and coordinators in relation to safety; and greater comprehensiveness in behavioural observation practices.

The broader results of the collaboration saw according to Usina Coruripe a marked improvement in terms of accidents and related expenses. Between 2012 and 2017, the new safety regime helped see a reduction of 94% in accidents, and a fall of 96% in lost days – as well as zero fatalities, and two sites not reporting any accidents at all. Overall, this helped save the company R$ 25 million.

Speaking on the changes following the second phase, the Supervisor of Agricultural Planning of Usina Coruripe’s Alagoas unit said, “I believe that I have changed mainly in the matter of safety, taking a more clinical view of the consequences of my actions. I changed in the subject discipline, always looking for objectivity and punctuality… I also changed communication, being simple and direct, and mindful of my bodily languages.”

Future vision

On the back of the successful collaboration, Usina Coruripe has announced its intention to continue its journey towards operational excellence with the implementation of the third phase of the Zero Accident Always Program, with the objective of reinforcing the STOP programme and include new risk awareness solutions, as well as enhancing PSM techniques in the operation.

Last year, DSS was named the globe’s top consulting firm for environment, health and safety.