Transport and warehouse safety

We transport and store products and materials worldwide such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, raw materials, intermediates and waste, as well as technical materials and packaging, all of which could pose a hazard if handled incorrectly. In doing so, we adhere to extremely strict safety regulations Group-wide to prevent danger to people and the environment.

Our principles

Organization and standards

Environment, Health Safety, , Quality (EQ) (see Environmental stewardship), the Group function in charge of transport and storage safety, sets Group-wide standards and guidelines. In addition, our individual sites are also subject to various national and international regulations governing environmental protection and public safety, which local site directors are responsible for implementing.

Our sites worldwide generally have a dangerous goods manager who advises the site director on issues regarding the safe transport of dangerous goods while also monitoring with regulatory requirements. This position reflects the EU regulations requiring the appointment of a dangerous goods safety advisor.

In 2014, we acquired the company AZ Electronic Materials and in 2015, Sigma-Aldrich, a U.S.-based life science company. We have since aligned their transport and storage systems with our Group-wide standards and updated them where necessary.

Warehouse safety

Our global safety concepts and standards ensure the safe storage of hazardous substances. The Warehouse Safety standard, for instance, defines measures to prevent substances from leaking or igniting. According to this standard, risk evaluations must be conducted on all stored substances. Special rules of conduct apply to all warehouse employees. In 2015 and 2016, we audited more than 20 of our warehouses and, based on the results, identified areas for improvement.

To ensure third-party warehouses also adhere to our strict safety requirements, our Group standard Warehouse requirements for third-party warehouses defines specific structural and organizational requirements for a facility. Before we sign contracts, warehouse providers must submit a statement detailing how they plan to meet our stringent safety standards. Our managers regularly visit third-party warehouses. In 2015 and 2016, we audited ten of these warehouses and developed corrective action plans to address the identified shortcomings.

In Germany, the “Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances” (TRGS) stipulate the storage of hazardous substances in non-stationary containers. In 2016, we decided to introduce these rules for storage at all our warehouse and distribution centers worldwide.

We comply with the current requirements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) at all our sites with the exception of India, where the system has not yet been fully integrated into national regulations.

Ensuring transport safety worldwide

We seek for all shipments to reach our customers and sites safely, undamaged and with the required safety information. Several substances that we transport are classified as hazardous materials. Hazardous goods transport – whether by road, rail, plane, or ship – is governed across the globe by extensive regulations such as the “European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road” (ADR).

Our Group Transport Safety standard defines the safety levels for our sites and is based on the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. This is especially important for sites in those countries with no local regulations on the transport of hazardous materials. We update our Group standard to reflect current requirements every two years and support our local site directors in implementing the relevant changes. On January 1, 2017, we introduced the amended regulations on the transport of dangerous goods by air and the /ADR regulations on transport by rail and road.

We regularly perform audits to ensure that our own sites as well as our freight forwarders are complying with transport safety regulations. In 2015 and 2016, no incidents that would have had a significant impact on the environment or community were recorded, nor were there any infringements of international regulations.

In Germany, we transport the majority of our hazardous waste ourselves, but do sometimes also enlist the services of other companies if necessary.

Furthermore, we participate in the German Transport Accident Information and Emergency Response System (TUIS) operated by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). Within this system, we exchange expertise and best practices on chemical transport with experts from other chemical companies and also provide hands-on assistance in the event of a chemical transportation accident.

Continuously improving safety concepts

Our local EHS and dangerous goods managers regularly review and evaluate our transport and storage activities, informing site directors of shortcomings and opportunities for improvement. Moreover, our sites are audited by EQ every five years.

Based on a strength and weakness analysis of each site, we calculate key performance indicators on transport and storage safety, which help us determine where to institute additional improvements. In 2016, for instance, we developed an e-learning concept for basic management courses on the transport of dangerous goods and launched a subsequent pilot program.

Employee training and internal best practice sharing

We regularly train warehouse workers and all employees involved in the transport of goods on our standards and procedures, as well as on changes to international requirements and incident management.

Furthermore, our managers meet regularly at the EHS conference in Darmstadt, Germany, where they have the opportunity to share experiences and best practices, as well as participate in transport and storage safety training. These topics are also covered in the three-day orientation seminar that is mandatory for all new EHS managers.


Award for truck improvements

The safe transport of dangerous goods necessitates safe vehicles, another area we pursue. In 2015, we won the VCI Hesse’s Responsible Care competition for our continuous improvements to our SafeServer truck body technology. In this design, the aluminum panels integrated into the side walls of the truck render the walls extremely stable, making it largely unnecessary to secure cargo. Over the past several years, our transport employees have worked to continuously hone this system, collaborating with our truck body manufacturers to implement the design changes.

In 2016, we won first prize in the Transport Safety category of the Germany-wide Responsible Care competition in recognition of our “TUIS, Messkonzept Südhessen” project. When a transport or warehouse accident occurs, this system can quickly calculate the rate at which hazardous substances are spilling and spreading.

This term stands for all necessary measures and governance activities to detect, analyze, handle, and mitigate security- and crime-based threats to the company. This helps to protect employees as well as the tangible and intangible assets of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Adherence to laws and regulations as well as to voluntary codices that are internal to the Group. Compliance is a component of diligent corporate governance.
Environment, Health and Safety describes environmental management, health protection and occupational safety throughout the company.
Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals: An international standard system to classify chemicals that covers labeling as well as safety data sheets.
International Air Transport Association
Regulation concerning international carriage by rail.
Environment, Health and Safety describes environmental management, health protection and occupational safety throughout the company.