Health & safety

Our approach to employee health & wellness

The safety and well-being of our people are our first and highest priority, with the expectation that everyone will return home unharmed each day. This message is reinforced by leadership at every level of the company.

To ensure consistent and safe work practices, we apply a corporate safety policy through a comprehensive operating discipline management system. Through this system, we lay the foundational expectations of hazard assessment and risk mitigation, aligned to Responsible Care®. Dow’s programs also include a robust Dow Occupational Health (OH) system that supports company sites, functions and businesses around the world with health information, resources, and consultation on health-related opportunities and issues.

2021 – a year of accomplishments


fatalities suffered


years without a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) across Dow sites globally


days severe injury-free; our best-ever overall severe injury performance


days without a severe injury occuring among our contractors


composite score based on the results of our Total Worker Health® index


Employee Resource Groups that strive to support the health and well-being of employees and contractors globally

Total Worker Health®

Dow set a goal in 2015 to achieve 100% on our Total Worker Health® (TWH) index by 2025, an equally weighted composite score based on three elements: Healthy Workplace, Healthy People and Healthy Culture. As of 2021, we achieved an index score of 74.5%, which has put us on a path to achieve this target one year earlier than anticipated.

American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes Dow's healthy workplace & culture

We were presented gold-level recognition by the AHA in 2021 for the significant steps that were taken to build a culture of employee health and well-being for our global workforce. This honor is one of the highlighted accomplishments aligned with our TWH® efforts, part of the World-Leading Operations 2025 Sustainability Goal.

Healthy workplace: health risk reduction efforts

We routinely evaluate our workplaces in search of high-priority health risks (P1s), which include ergonomic stressors and exposure to chemicals and high noise. We made great progress in our efforts to reduce these risks, for example:
Workers run a tote cleaning process
Performance Materials & Coatings

Dow Performance Materials and Coatings improved its tote cleaning process and is leveraging the new cleaning system across five sites. The new tote cleaning system reduced ergonomic stress, noise exposure and reduced heat stress for workers.

View of the San Lorenzo operations facility
Polyols: San Lorenzo

Our polyols plant in San Lorenzo, Brazil implemented a state-of-the-art pipeline inspection gauge (PIG), which eliminated worker exposure risks to propylene oxide. This technology was leveraged from a sister plant in Cartagena, Colombia.

Aerial view of Dow's Guarujá site in Brazil
Polyols: Guarujá

Another polyols plant in Guarujá, Brazil collaborated with a third-party logistics company to improve butadiene sampling systems operated by Dow workers. This effort reduced exposure potential to butadiene and resulted in two P1 eliminations.

Three plant employees check notes on a clipboard
Consumer Solutions: Kendallville

Dow Consumer Solutions implemented a significant noise control project at a site in Kendallville, Indiana. This effort has eliminated 6 P1 health risks for more than 70 employees so far.

Overall, our P1 elimination work has reduced the occupational health risks for nearly 600 Dow employees, globally.

The Contractor Safety Task Force

Contractors play a vital role in our operations and, like their Dow counterparts, contractors also engage in potentially high-risk tasks while on the job.

The Contractor Safety Task Force was chartered in 2021, with an initial focus on North America and a goal to understand best practices and reinforce positive behaviors that drive optimal safety performance among contractors.

The impact from company health and wellness efforts

In 2020, we tallied five severe injuries amongst contractors in North America. In 2021, we recorded zero – globally. This is due to the widespread impact of the North America Contractor Safety Task Force, whose strategy was then successfully leveraged across multiple regions.  The Task Force’s efforts subsequently led to the development of a “Contractor Safety Culture Index” and recognition program for top-performing sites, both to be released in 2022.

Healthy people: Reclaim Your Health campaign

Our OH group launched the Reclaim Your Health campaign in 2021 to remind employees about the importance of self-care and to share resources for employees to maintain their health. To gauge the mental health of employees, OH launched screening questions as part of their engagement with the clinic staff. As a result of the screening implementation, Dow’s medical staff was able to identify employees in need of support and resources.

Additionally, all ten of our ERGs explored elements of mental and physical well-being through webcasts. These virtual engagements especially highlighted psychological safety, which is fundamental to creating joint ownership for advancing the employee experience, addressing stressors, and maintaining or improving mental health.

Healthy culture: tracking our progress

Sites annually self-assess their efforts to maintain or improve employee health and well-being through a healthy culture survey.  In 2021, six additional Dow locations received a platinum rating, bringing the total number of sites recognized to 96.

A focus on continuous improvement in employee health and safety

Promoting worker and environmental safety is core to our business and sustainability strategy, and we are continually striving for improvement. The following are examples of how we identified areas for improvement and involved Team Dow in 2021.

“Our employees and contractors at our manufacturing sites are the heart and soul of Dow,” said Kevin Martin, senior operations leader in Freeport, Texas. “They are the front line completing difficult tasks that require precision and laser focus. Because of their work environment, combined with the physical and mental demands of the role, fatigue is a real risk. The Fatigue Risk Management Program is about finding a solution to the hidden hazard that drives employee safety to the next level.”

Kevin Martin
Senior Operations Leader
Freeport, TX

New personal safety standards

With our proactive approach to safety, we monitor and focus on the emerging and evolving needs of our workforce as justification for new requirements and standards. Our continual review of incident trends and near-miss data displayed an opportunity to educate employees and contractors, which led to the creation of the two new standards for safe use.

  • In 2021, Dow’s Personal Safety Expertise Center (PSEC) drafted a Hand-Held Portable Tools Standard that included tool design requirements and user guides to help combat incidents associated with equipment such as drills and angle grinders. The standard was tested across six sites to enhance safety education and enabled sites to replace old tools with safer alternatives. The success of the pilots proved the value of thorough standard development. This standard will be rolled out to all of our employees and contractors in 15 languages in early 2022.
  • A new Fatigue Risk Management Standard was piloted across sites in the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2021. An impactful takeaway from these pilots came from feedback sessions, which encouraged transparent conversations for leadership to understand the cultural aspects associated with fatigue. The learnings from the regional rollout helped shape a comprehensive global standard, which will be widely released in 2022.

Eliminating elevated work

Audit and near miss data from 2016-2020 presented an opportunity to eliminate or reduce fall risks. As a result, we:

  • Launched a Routine Elevated Work Solutions project team that created a toolkit to help identify fall risks at a site and evaluate ways to make a task safer through the elimination, substitution or addition of engineering controls.
  • Conducted a Fall Prevention Blitz to help prevent fall-related incidents, which continue to present a safety hazard across the company. The blitz was grounded in a “lifeguard” approach – with all employees and contractors looking out for each other to ensure safety and immediately address potentially hazardous behaviors.

Continuing our COVID safety measures

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continued with a disciplined management approach to safety supports employees, customers and the community. While 2021 did not bring us relief from the pandemic, we consistently communicated with employees, provided educational seminars, and advocated for vaccinations in alignment with the best medical science.

During the latter half of 2021, we recognized the need to update the COVID-19 Workplace Playbook to shape guidelines in a more risk-based manner. The updated playbook uses public health data to determine the risk of infection to employees at each site and has helped us make a safe return to the workplace as we continue to minimize workplace transmission while maintaining business continuity. As we did with the company’s first playbook from April 2020, this revised playbook was shared with our external stakeholders.

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