Safety first!

Our goal is accident-free working environment. In order to ensure the safety of our employees and subcontractors as well as minimise environmental effects, the Group has set a goal of becoming a completely accident-free enterprise. The provision of production safety and protection at all the sites in the companies within the Group is being implemented based on consistent approach and efficient cooperation.

We believe that the precondition for achieving the zero target is the reduction of accidents at the workplace by means of planned and consistent activities, accompanied by the refinement of working conditions and means of protection. We are also improving the risk management system in the field of production safety, investing money into advanced technologies, enhancing the reliability of our equipment, and promoting safety culture.

In order to achieve the zero target within the Group, every single manager has undertaken several personal obligations aimed at increasing production safety. Those obligations are reflected in performance indicators set for the managers as targets.

The main goals determined in the principles of occupational safety are the following:

reducing the number of occupational injuries, professional diseases, accidents, and harmful environmental effects;

organising safe production by means of comprehensive analytics and the management and minimization of production risks;

The implementation of the best possible practices in the field which enable us to move forward and help to achieve the sustainable development goals set by the UN.

Having clear goals right in front of our eyes and involving all the concerned parties into relevant activities on a regular basis, we make all possible effort in order to achieve even better results.


  • raising the awareness of the employees, or high safety culture at each level;
  • ensuring the occupational and environmental safety of production processes;
  • safe and secure working conditions;
  • implementing the system of injury prevention;
  • absence of deaths caused by injuries at the workplace;
  • absence of serious accidents;
  • risk-oriented approach upon the provision of protection at the workplace and production safety;
  • the implementation of the principle of activities following one another, i.e. the following activity is shaped on the basis of the results of the activity undertaken at the previous level, with due consideration of the obtained data.

The events within the programme of improving production safety, working conditions and the level of protection at the workplace as well as prevention of emergency situations and their elimination are aimed at prevention of accidents and injuries, implementation of occupational safety culture, provision of the means of protection to employees, holding training sessions and providing instructions, prevention of professional diseases.

We believe that regarding the reduction of the number of accidents it is especially important to implement the system of production safety, occupational and environmental protection as well as to raise the motivation among the employees and company managers in the field of occupational safety.

For several years already we have been implementing several innovative measures in the Group that enable us to raise the safety level, which include:

  • organising visits related to safety issues with the participation of line managers;
  • holding days on safety topics;
  • common events with the Rescue Board;
  • using Edutaizer practice programme;
  • registration of dangerous situations.

For the purpose of further improvement of protection at the workplace and production safety we are planning to boost the efficiency in the following directions:

  • enhancing the operational efficiency of making decisions related to the prevention of dangerous situations and/or their elimination;
  • boosting the interest among managers and employees towards the provision and implementation of safe working methods;
  • creating the conditions for the prevention of accidents at subcontractors.

Training sessions in the field of protection at the workplace

Every year events are held at the Group that are aimed at enhancing the awareness of the employees in connection with production and fire safety as well as protection at the workplace, perfecting relevant skills, and improving the quality of training in this field. Main events include the following:

  • full-time and part-time teaching of the employees, their preparation and qualification upgrade;
  • updating the programmes in the field of production safety and protection at the workplace as well as knowledge check-up programmes;
  • implementing the system of special training sessions for the staff operating dangerous pieces of equipment;
  • facilitating the promotion of safety culture.

In 2018, online and video supervision was introduced in all companies of the Group, and it has been in active use since then. Online and video supervision is provided both to the employees of the company and to its subcontractors.

Cooperation with the trade union in the field of protection at the workplace

The trade union organisation operating on the basis of the Group also takes active part in discussing the issues related to protection at the workplace. The chemists' trade union, as a partner of the Group, is involved in a number of processes, for example, checking compliance with safety requirements, prevention of professional injuries and diseases, provision of personal and group means of protection, notifying the employees about occupational safety, and other means of implementation of occupational safety culture.

Cooperation with local communities

VKG is a large production facility, which creates many workplaces for local people. As of the end of the reporting year, about 1,750 people were employed in the segment of oil shale extraction and processing, mainly from among locals. Our oil shale processing sites are located within the city, which is why the safety of the residents and our employees is our priority. We implement industrial safety and occupational health and safety programs to minimize the risk of accidents in production. We attach an important role in this process of improving the culture of occupational safety.

Cooperation with subcontractors

The Group establishes for employees and subcontractors, which perform the works at the sites of the Group or for the benefit of VKG, common requirements in the field of occupational and environmental protection, including an obligation to proceed from the standards established by international laws and valid legal acts upon planning their activities and performing them and the obligation to prevent harmful effect on the environment, including flora and fauna, while implementing the projects on a land plot.

Relevant conditions are included into the contracts for works and services, entered with subcontractors, on a mandatory basis. Subcontractors undertake an obligation to carry out training for their employees working at the sites of the Group, provide instructions concerning the use of individual means of protection, using transport, and following the requirements in the field of environmental protection as well as other requirements established by relevant standards.


The extraction of oil shale using the underground method is accompanied by such imperfections of the working environment as limited space, high level of noise and vibration, and extreme temperatures.

In order to minimise the effect of harmful factors, modern mining technologies are used at Ojamaa mine, which make the risks for the professional health of the employees much lower. Working conditions have also been improved owing to high quality air conditioning and ventilation systems, the use of systems excluding contact with the sources of vibration and using special means of protection. In addition to that, measures are taken for early detection of predesposition of employees to professional diseases, which makes it possible to transfer them to other workplaces in due time, at which there is no risk of contacting harmful factors.

We believe that the measures described above as well as some others have a positive effect on the health of our employees, especially on the employees with a long-term experience of underground works and help to minimise the number of registered professional diseases in the long run.

As of 2018, six out of seven VKG subsidiaries hold certificates confirming their compliance with the international OHSAS 18001 standard, which allows developing the entire system of management of labour protection and occupational safety integrated with all the business processes.

Ohsas 18001

Safety culture

For the purposes of promotion of safety culture, the 'Report danger!' initiative has been set up. The system of registration of near miss situations was launched in 2017. Every employee can report about dangerous situations occurring at work in a fast and convenient manner.

The system of detecting dangerous situations allows to prevent accidents at a workplace by providing timely response to existing problems. By implementing and using this system, we will be able to involve all the employees into the enhancement of the working environment. Currently, there are several options for registering dangerous situations. The simplest method that is available for all the employees and subcontractors of the Group is via the webpage. Last year 600 dangerous situations were registered through the system, which is 6.5 times less than the year before, and the timely resolution of dangerous situations detected helped us to avoid accidents.Employees are also involved in the promotion of occupational safety by means of openness and communication. All employees can apply to become working environment representatives and take part in the work of the council of working environment representatives. Working environment representatives are selected by the employees, and they take part in the work of the council of working environment representatives together with the representatives of the employer. One of the measures for boosting safety culture are 9 life-saving rules established at the Group. All of the employees must follow them, including subcontractors and visitors.

  • Before you start working, make sure it is safe to do so. If the work conditions or activities are unsafe, stop at once.

  • A valid permit is necessary for special jobs.

  • Use fall protection when working at heights.

  • Always make sure that the equipment is in working order.

  • You must have a written permit from the unit chief to switch off protective equipment and emergency protection.

  • Lift safely! Keep clear of the load and the danger zone.

  • Use the required personal safety equipment.

  • Being at work while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or toxic or psychotropic substances is prohibited.

  • Smoking outside designated smoking areas is prohibited.

Statistics for 2018

In 2018, 16 accidents at work were registered at Viru Keemia Grupp. There were no accidents leading to the death of any of the employees.

Broken down by the level of severity of the damage done to health, in 2018, there were 7 accidents leading to serious injuries and 7 accidents with minor injuries, and in two cases first aid was administered. Compared with 2017, the number of serious accidents at the workplace remained the same, while the number of minor ones decreased by 5.

Serious accidents took place in the following subsidiaries:

  • Viru RMT – 1
  • VKG Oil – 3
  • VKG Energia – 2
  • VKG Kaevandused – 1

In 2018, the main reasons for accidents at work were the following:

  • Violation of occupation safety requirements by an employee;
  • Negligence;
  • inappropriate methods of operation;
  • nonconformance of pathways/workspace to safety requirements;
  • ignoring the use of individual means of protection;
  • insufficient arrangement of work.


2 152
1 995
1 785
  • Minor accident
  • Severe accident
  • Number of employees

The number of accidents at work per employee in 2015–2018

2015 2015 2016 2017 2018
Number of employees 2152 1995 1785 1776 1761
Number of accidents 13 14 26 19 16
Number of accidents per an employee 0,006 0,007 0,015 0,011 0,009

In total, in 2009-2018 the largest number of accidents (both serious and minor ones) took place at VKG OIl, i.e. 50, 28 accidents took place in Viru RMT, and 29 accidents took place in VKG Kaevandused. A great number of accidents at a workplace in the companies mentioned above is due to a high level of danger of the works completed in them (underground mining, handling hazardous chemicals, repair and servicing of technological equipment) as well as the number of employees.

The most important measures aimed at improving working environment in 2019:

  • upgrading the system of registering dangerous situations;
  • the analysis of accidents and emergency situations that took place within the Group;
  • enhancing the level of importance of occupational safety for the employees and developing safety culture;
  • organising training sessions and exams on the topic of occupational safety by means of online learning environment.

We publish total recordable incident rate, or the statistics pertaining to the TRIR indicator for the past three years, which represents the number of accidents at a workplace per one million working hours. The average TRIR-indicator in the Group has been in the downward trend within the past three years: in 2017 it decreased by 24%, and last year by 13%.

2015-2018 TRIR average figures

2016 2017 2018
Viru RMT 11,2 12,0 11,2
VKG OIL 11,0 6,4 5,7
VKG Energia 8,9 0 9,6
VKG Logistika 3,9 9,1 0
VKG Elektrivõrgud 10 0 0
VKG Kaevandused 4,1 5,2 4,2
VKG Soojus 0 0 0
Average in the Group 7,9 6,0 5,2

Safety of chemicals

VKG takes active part in endeavours in the field of the chemical industry at the local, national, and international level. The Group is a member of the Estonian Chemical Industry Association, and thus it is committed to the implementation of voluntary initiatives of the European and global umbrella organisations in the field of the chemical industry the CEFIC and the ICCA. We have been committed to the Responsible Care (RC) initiative for over 15 years already.

The aim of the provision of the safety of chemicals is to reduce the risks related to chemicals in order to avoid harmful effect. At VKG risks originate from the features of the chemicals being manufactured and used as well as from possible contact with them. In accordance with the existing risks, measures are taken aimed at their minimisation.

Recording and reporting hazardous chemical substances

The precondition for the management of risks related to chemicals is the existence of sufficient information concerning the properties of chemicals and the conditions of their use in the company.

Thus, VKG keeps record of and prepares reports concerning hazardous chemicals and does its best at unifying and rectifying the relevant system company-wide. The priority of the Group in this field is the cooperation between subsidiaries, synergy, and facilitation of learning from each other. The preparatory works for the harmonisation of reporting and record-keeping systems had started earlier, but in 2013, the first actual and comparable results were obtained.

In the following years, the system was improved, and nowadays record is kept of the chemicals used in our companies in systematic databases. Record-keeping shows the areas where additional data needs to be collected, the workplaces that are dealing with hazardous chemicals, and thus it helps to assess the risks of using them, provides information aimed at reducing and controlling the risks at different workplaces or for taking the amount of emissions into the environment under control.

Product liability

REACH regulation is the regulation of the European Parliament and Council (EU) No. 1907/2006, which deals with the registration of chemicals, their assessment, authorisation, and limitation.

REACH obliges all the manufacturers of chemicals to identify the properties of the chemicals they produce and register them. Consequently, VKG has submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) registration documents for all the substances that are produced in the amount of one (1) ton or more per year. Registration documents are very extensive, specific, complex, and detailed, and they include the information about the properties of substances, their use, and safety requirements.

REACH enables the amplification of results and expedience for the entire European chemical industry as well as raising the level of trust among wider audience in relation to the safe handling of chemicals.

Global Product Strategy – GPS

In 2013, VKG decided to join the implementation project of the Global Product Strategy (GPS), being the first one among the Estonian companies. GPS is a voluntary initiative managed by ICCA, which, together with the RC Global Charter, is the foundation for the contribution made by the chemical industry into the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), implemented by the United Nations. The GPS files are summaries of the safety information (GPS Product Safety Summary), which contain risk analysis and the information concerning risk management in a clear format that can be forwarded to employees, sub users, and other interested parties. Those summaries contain the information about dangers and exposure, recommendations for risk management, and the description of benefits this or that chemical substance can bring to society.

The main goals of GPS

  • 1.

    a wide distribution of knowledge about hazardous substances;

  • 2.

    promotion of product liability and provision of adequate handling and use of chemical substances within the entire value chain, regardless of the geographical position (the minimization of differences between developing and industrial countries), offering relevant and reliable information;

  • 3.

    increase in transparency; helping the companies to offer to the interested groups the information about chemical substances on sale easily and in a clear format: GPS safety information in the form of a summary;

In 2018, the information about the safety all the products and substances marketed by VKG was made available for the wider audience.