Who Is Answering Chemical Emergency Calls In Asia?

During a recent tour in Taipei, together with the NCEC, we asked a dozen of local companies in the petrochemical and specialty chemical industry the following question: Who is answering your chemical emergency calls?

I was surprised by how many companies responded that they are publishing a general office phone number or mobile phone number as their emergency response number on Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and other documents. Office telephone numbers are often directed to front desk employees, while, in many cases, mobile phone numbers belong to sales representatives.

With the best will in the world

Why should emergency calls be answered by trained emergency responders and not sales representatives, for example? With the best will in the world, if a sales representative is woken up in the middle of the night by an emergency call, he is never going to be able to give his ‘best self’ in the management of a chemical incident.

A personal mobile phone number from a sales representative is also not a good emergency telephone number, as it cannot be monitored 24/7 and often uses a call-back function such as voicemail.

The salesperson receiving the call also needs to have immediate access to product data and needs to be knowledgeable of hazardous goods. Most often, this is not the case.

On top of this, a telephone call could come from someone abroad in a foreign language the salesperson does not master. 

I hope this article will help create awareness of the risks of this approach and give guidance on how to make it right.

How healthy is your level 1 emergency response?

The European Chemical Council (CEFIC) has written guidelines for level 1 emergency response telephone helplines.

So, as a first step, I recommend you review the health of your chemical emergency response setup against CEFIC’S 7 requirements shown in the below image.

Image: CEFIC 7 requirements for Level 1 Chemical Emergency Response

How did your health check go? Do you meet all requirements? If your answer is no, continue, and watch the below webinar for more guidance.

Webinar: What does best practice in emergency response look like?

In this webinar, Cefic’s Transport & Logistics Director and Manager, Joost Naessens and Peng Paternostre, BASF Vice President and ICE Network Chairman, Gert Van Bortel,  NCEC Director, Jon Gibbard,  and NCEC Head of Emergency Responder Team, Chris Sowden, take an in-depth look at the Level 1 emergency response guidelines.

The webinar explores:

-How and why the guidelines came into being.

-Key points from the guidelines.

-What the guidelines mean for chemical manufacturers, distributors, transporters, and emergency responders.

-Recommendations for implementing proactive emergency response to protect people, the environment, assets, and reputation.

The webinar also features several illustrative case studies to show how the guidelines apply in real-world scenarios and the value they add when dealing with an incident. The webinar gives clear takeaway actions to review and implement.

Watch the webinar below.

Download the webinar slides here.


Handling emergency calls can be very challenging. Even with extensive internal resources, many of the largest oil and chemical companies prefer to outsource their level 1 emergency response helpline to professional companies. It highlights the importance of implementing a robust and resilient emergency response arrangement.

Photo credit: Canva