A survey of chemical companies – the sector that is the country’s biggest manufacturing exporter - across the UK has demonstrated the safety of workers is the top priority.
The UK chemical industry, which is continuing to make and sell key products for both the fight against COVID-19 and for daily life, has maintained its high standard of health and safety in its operations.
In the most recent business survey, Chief Executives reported that the safety of people was paramount and needed to be assured in enabling continued operations. Chemical businesses have proved resilient in standing up so far to COVID-19, with over 80% reporting sales either remaining the same or actually increasing in the first quarter of this year, compared to the last quarter of 2019. The Chemical Industries Association survey also showed the sector’s strength in exports and there has been very little change to workforce numbers. Seventy five percent of respondents reported seeing minor impacts to supply chains due to the virus, with those impacts relatively minor, in the form of manageable delays in time to deliver.
The second and third quarters will however be a challenge for the industry, as companies’ concerns over supply side resilience are switching more to worries over the decline in some industrial customer markets such as automotive, aviation and construction.
50% of respondents expect to reduce production over the next three months; this comes as companies aim to match supply with the new levels of demand. Investment in research and development and the amount of capital expenditure has also slowed.
Chief Executive of the Chemical Industries Association, Steve Elliott said “Of course the safety of people must come first. It is absolutely right and also no surprise when asked that companies have said that even in these economically challenging times, that is their number one priority."
He continued “I think it is a huge achievement by our companies and their workforces that for the most part we are continuing to make products that customers need. Whether for essential on-going daily life in the UK (food, medicines, water treatment etc) or specifically for the current national need (latex used in gloves, hand sanitisers and face coverings, plus many more examples required by the NHS and other front-line services). Across the globe, the chemical industry is doing all it can to keep economies moving and people safe."
Elliott concluded “The future is a challenge for everyone and as customer industries feel the pain that will pass in turn to some of our companies. However, I am optimistic that we can re-build. Measures to encourage consumer confidence and spending around the world will be key to that re-build, alongside a focus on a more resilient future UK economy, underpinned by stronger UK manufacturing and chemical industries.”
Any questions/points please call Simon Marsh 07951 389197