< Back to all Press releases

Transforming the operating safety culture at SIAAP

DuPont Sustainable Solutions supports SIAAP’s biggest Seveso site on its journey to excellence.

Paris, 27 May 2021 – DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS), a leading global safety and operational management consultancy, partners with SIAAP on a major three-year project to transform the organisation’s operating culture, management and safety performance.

Founded in 1970, the wastewater treatment authority for the Paris metropolitan area SIAAP transports and treats the rainwater, industrial process water and wastewater of the nine million inhabitants of four French regions: Paris, Seine Saint-Denis, Val de Marne and Hauts de Seine. In its six treatment plants in the Paris greater urban area, SIAAP employs 1,700 public sector employees. Of these sites, Seine Aval is the largest treatment plant in Europe. This historic site, founded in 1940, covers 600 hectares, works with activated sludge and produces biogas through anaerobic digestion of the sludge.

Despite a recent modernisation of the plant, the Seine Aval site has experienced a number of safety incidents. The most recent, a fire in the clarifloculation unit in July 2019, prompted the SIAAP managing director, Jacques Olivier, to put out a call for tenders for an independent work safety audit at the instigation of the French Secretary of State. Awarded to DuPont Sustainable Solutions, the audit set out to control the risks associated with the plant’s activity in order to ensure the continuity and the quality of the Seine Aval service.

Seine Aval – a Seveso industrial site

Due to changes in its manufacturing processes, the Seine Aval site was classified as a SEVESO “Upper Tier” site in 2010. In addition to the hazards common to all industry sectors, this classification was triggered by two key aspects of the site:

  • The presence of biogas that could produce explosive atmospheres
  • The use of chemical reagents which, when mixed, sometimes generate a chlorine cloud that can disperse up to 2 kilometers from its point of origin.

“Although we already had a high standard of work safety, we endeavoured to improve it even further given the SEVESO Upper Tier classification,” Mr Olivier points out. SIAPP thus introduced a more stringent safety policy throughout the site, framed by a special intervention plan to protect the population and the environment.

These initial actions allowed the site to make some progress, but not sufficient. So SIAAP took the step of commissioning an external work safety audit.

An operational safety assessment by DSS focuses on 6 key areas

In order to address the risks and identify the necessary corrective steps, the work safety assessment by DSS was split into five key themes which were the subject of an in-depth diagnostic:

  • Prevention of fire and explosion risks (ATEX/ explosive atmosphere),
  • Fire Safety
  • Pipelines and their capacity for hazardous media
  • Safety of electrical installations
  • Operating safety
  • Incident management

“In order to be able to identify root causes, but also take the necessary steps so that we could progress to a level that will guarantee the safety of our employees and the local community, we decided to make a step change,” Mr Olivier explains.

“We wanted to benchmark ourselves against existing global and industry best practices and the DSS offer seemed to be the most suitable to do so,” Pierre Hodot, Safety Director SIAAP adds.

Based on the industrial heritage of DuPont, the DSS approach draws on more than 200 years of experience that has been codified in the form of good practices. An independent company since September 2019, DSS puts its expertise at the service of companies to help them improve the safety of their employees and enable them to achieve operational excellence with a tailored approach which consists of an assessment, a diagnostic, training, support and coaching.

“Working together with our clients, we build operational resilience: fewer accidents, better safety and an enhanced operational performance through improved asset and plant management. We help them to transform their operations and achieve sustainable results, like we did for SIAAP, an organisation committed to change,” says Mathieu Leduc, Director DSS Europe.

An assessment conducted with full transparency

Despite the unusual conditions imposed by the health crisis in 2020, the assessment was carried out to plan in three phases: the first addressed SIAAP’s short-term goals, the following two focused on the actions that would:

  • Identify improvement opportunities, align the organisation and set it on the path of the safety roadmap developed by DSS,
  • Implement the roadmap and strengthen operational safety to achieve rapid impact,
  • Develop and reinforce the necessary practices to safeguard long-term change

DSS conducted more than 150 on-site interviews, not to mention an analysis of existing documentation and the production of a summary account and reports. “The audit was carried out through a series of interviews and meetings in the field, through observation of people at work, examination of a number of documents during steering committee and project meetings. We also organised workshops by topic,” Yann Bourbon, director of Seine Aval at SIAAP explains.

The unanimous view of all those involved in the project at all levels at the Seine Aval site and within DSS was that the audit was conducted in an atmosphere of complete trust and openness that was essential to its success. “By selecting a partner who is well-recognised at an international level, Seine Aval employees were more accepting of the DSS auditors. They understood that we wanted to do everything in our power to get the most objective view possible of our safety culture maturity level,” Mr Olivier explains.

The very thorough and in-depth audit gave SIAAP an insight into the status quo and a better understanding of the levers it needed to work on.

Collective awareness paves the way for transformation programme aimed at excellence

The audit was a real revelation for all of Seine Aval’s work teams. It created collective awareness of the need to place safety at the centre of all steering bodies.

SIAAP therefore decided to start a transformation project together with DSS as its partner, addressing both the strengthening of operational safety and the implementation of the recommendations resulting from the audit. That aim is to achieve a profound change in the operational management culture.

The transformation project will run for three years and will focus on the Seine Aval site and certain support functions at the company headquarters. It will cover the following areas:

  • Increasing operational excellence by overhauling the site's Operational Management System and all its interfaces,
  • Strengthening the SIAAP Business Continuity Plan, addressing the major causes of business interruption and developing anticipation, prevention and recovery scenarios,
  • The implementation of organisational changes aimed at strengthening the operational management of Seine Aval activities and its entire network,
  • Improving operational risk awareness among all Seine Aval employees, using the latest research findings in neuroscience, particularly in relation to decision making,
  • Enhancing the operational management culture of all managers at the site and their network,
  • Improving the site's risk management and safety performance, in particular by increasing the compliance of certain technical equipment, and adherence to processes and associated safety procedures.

“The audit findings are a testament to the work that SIAAP and DSS have done together. We now have a solid foundation for achieving risk management and safety excellence. We intend to achieve this goal quickly so that we can improve the safety of our employees and the local community. In this way, we are clearly demonstrating our commitment to our vision of SIAAP as an industrial organisation that takes its responsibility to all its stakeholders seriously, starting with the population of the greater Paris area.

“Operational management will be strengthened, our awareness of risks heightened, the operational implementation of a Business Continuity Plan supported, and risk management improved by a change in safety culture as well as a significant step change in the operational management of the Seine Aval site,” say both Mr Olivier and Philippe Leininger, Director of DSS France.

For further details:

Read the full case study here

Watch the full story here

# # #

About SIAAP: www.siaap.fr

The Syndicat Interdépartemental pour l'Assainissement de l'Agglomération Parisienne (SIAAP) is the public body responsible for treating the wastewater of the nearly 9 million people in the Paris region every day, as well as rainwater and industrial wastewater, in order to return water to the Seine and the Marne rivers that supports the development of the natural environment. With its 1,770 employees, SIAAP treats water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, cleaning close on 2.5 million m³ of water, transported by a 440 km network of pipelines and treated by its six treatment plants.

Contact SIAAP:

Pierre Hodot, SIAAP Safety Director


About DSS:

DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) is an international operations consulting firm that enables organisations to protect their employees and assets, realise operational efficiencies, innovate more rapidly and build workforce capability. By leveraging its DuPont heritage, deep industry, business process expertise and a diverse team of expert consultants, DSS helps clients turn operations management into a competitive advantage.

© 2021 DSS Sustainable Solutions. All rights reserved. DuPont is owned by affiliates of DuPont de Nemours, Inc. and is licensed to DSS for a limited period of time.

Contact DSS:

Mathieu Leduc, DSS Director Europe