When a chemical plant explodes, your company can’t blame the company
You’re probably still thinking “It must be the fault of the employees, they don’t have time to change anything.”
But according to a new report from McKinsey & Co., that’s not necessarily the case.
According to McKinsey, if your company is working with chemical companies to supply your customers with products like pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, then you have a lot to blame for the problems they’re experiencing.
“In general, if you are in a large chemical company, you have an opportunity to reduce or eliminate risks to customers, but the risk of a product explosion and fire is still extremely high,” McKinsey’s John Novella said in a press release.
In order to understand what these companies are facing, McKinsey analyzed 1,500 chemicals across 50 countries and found that in general, chemical safety is “poor” for the industries most at risk, according to McKinley.
“When chemical companies fail to adequately address safety risks or the risk that a product could explode or catch fire, the product can be unsafe to use,” the report states.
And it’s not just chemicals that suffer from these problems: there’s also a range of chemicals that can cause health problems and even cause disease.
For instance, the chemicals that are most commonly linked to the chemical-related illnesses that have affected people include dioxin, PCBs, and sulfur dioxide.
McKinsey found that the chemicals linked to cancers also have a high rate of occurrence in industries.
“When chemicals are used to make household products, they are also associated with a range that includes asthma, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, and lung disease,” the study notes.
But these chemicals can also have health benefits, too.
“For instance, dioxins, which are known to be carcinogenic, may be an important part of reducing the incidence of certain cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer,” McKinley notes.
“A recent meta-analysis of studies found that dioxinated PCBs and dioxines can reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 30 percent in women and as much, possibly more, as 50 percent in men,” the company continues.
“Other research has found that certain PCBs are more effective than others at blocking the progression of a breast cancer-associated disease called breast cancer microendothelial neoplasia,” the McKinsey researchers explain.
That’s not to say that the chemical companies are doing everything they can to make sure their products don’t become a target for an explosion.
“Companies often use ‘greenwashing’ techniques, including manufacturing and packaging practices that reduce the likelihood that their products will explode,” McKinys report states, noting that companies may hide their manufacturing processes or reduce the amount of chemicals they use.
According to the report, if companies are trying to reduce their risk of the chemicals they’re using becoming a target, they should consider “using more energy-efficient packaging or other environmentally-friendly materials that are less likely to explode or cause fires.”
However, the researchers also recommend that companies “invest in testing their products, in particular when using the most commonly-used chemicals, to ensure that they are not the cause of chemical safety problems.”