When it comes to the health and safety of our employees, we take our responsibility very seriously, doing everything in our power to safeguard them against work-related illnesses and accidents. With our top priorities comprising issues such as stress prevention, nutrition and mobility, we help our employees prevent acute or chronic health issues through steps that are easy to integrate into their daily work routine.
Our approach to preventing accidents and promoting health
We seek to promote the health of our employees and maintain their ability to perform over the long term, for which a safe workplace is paramount. One of our Group-wide objectives is therefore to step up our safety culture, with our goal for 2020 to keep our lost time injury rate (LTIR) under 1.5. At all our sites, we conduct hazard assessments even before a new plant is commissioned to minimize or eliminate any potential safety risks to our employees. Furthermore, we are working to make workplace health management a greater part of our corporate culture and leadership.
In 2018, we developed a key performance indicator management system to review the effectiveness of our occupational health practices and identify opportunities for improvement. In addition, for the first time we included questions regarding employee health in our 2018 Employee Engagement survey. The input from this survey is used to calculate our company’s Healthiness Index, which is due to be published after completing the analysis in 2019. The index should reflect the general state of health of our employees.
Our health projects are tailored to the needs of our employees. In 2018, we refined our objectives, creating a roadmap for the next several years that will concentrate on shift work, office work, mental stress, and demographic change, as well as analyzing key disease occurrence information to draw up appropriate measures. We regularly evaluate the success of our individual efforts.
How we manage occupational health and safety
Our Environment, Health, Safety, Security, Quality (EQ) Group function is responsible for our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) management system. Since October 2018, this unit has been reporting to Executive Board member Belén Garijo, who took over the position from Walter Galinat on his retirement at the end of September 2018. EQ sets objectives, oversees global initiatives and conducts internal audits, while local EHS managers ensure that each individual site adheres to occupational safety laws and regulations. All new EHS managers are required to complete EHStart-up!, a three-day orientation held in Darmstadt that covers topics such as occupational health and safety as well as our BeSafe! safety culture program.
We collect workplace accident data from our sites on a monthly basis. Every facility is required to immediately report relevant accidents to EQ, where the cases are investigated and assessed. If necessary, we implement additional safety measures at our sites. In addition, our German sites in Darmstadt and Gernsheim have an occupational safety committee in place that meets four times a year and makes decisions on current EHS issues. In 2018, their agenda included health management along with relevant accidents and incidents. They also discussed the status of the roll-out of an IT system for hazard assessment and contingency planning processes. Beyond all these safety mechanisms, our Life Science business sector holds monthly safety calls with all local EHS officers to share lessons learned and discuss recommended actions for comparable situations. If employees are worried about their health or safety, they are encouraged to use our global SpeakUp Line and are moreover entitled to take a temporary leave of absence.
At our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites, our Health Management unit helps weave health awareness into our corporate culture. The appropriate strategy, individual focal areas and measures required are developed by an interdisciplinary steering committee consisting of various senior leaders such as the head of Occupational Health & Safety, the chairman of the Works Council, the head of Health Management, and the production heads of our business sectors. Meeting six times a year, the topics discussed include workplace health fundamentals, good leadership and tailored health programs.
On top of their usual tasks, some of our production employees at our sites in Darmstadt and Gernsheim are also responsible for health matters. After completing a training course, these health partners act as a liaison between our employees and Health Management, providing a channel through which they can voice their ideas and suggestions for workplace health management strategy and initiatives. Since our production employees have shown great appreciation for these health partners, we have decided to start introducing this practice in other departments as well.
Our commitment: Policies and bylaws
Our approach to occupational health and safety is detailed in our Corporate Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Policy. This is an integral part of our EHS management system, which undergoes an external OHSAS 18001 audit every year.
Our Group Health Policy defines how we ensure workplace safety for our employees while also promoting their health and welfare. This document details our Group-wide approach to safety and health management as well as our comprehensive behavioral modification program to prevent workplace accidents and occupational diseases. One component of the policy is our Global Wellbeing and Health Promotion Framework, which describes the differing requirements in a wide array of countries. Our individual sites are responsible for performing local workplace risk assessments and hazard analyses.
At most of our sites in Germany, we work in partnership with employee representatives to craft comprehensive bylaws on occupational health and safety. Our Employee Care bylaw defines processes such as employee care conversations, which help our leaders to promptly identify health risks and mental stress in their employees. In 2017, this bylaw was extended by an additional three years. Introduced in 2017, our Occupational Integration Management bylaw governs the procedure for protracted employee illness and applies to all our facilities in Germany. This bylaw aims to help keep the employee’s position open while also helping to prevent adverse health impacts after their return to work.
Renewed safety certification
In 2018, we inspected and recertified the safety management systems at all our Performance Materials production sites. The Healthcare facilities at our Darmstadt site were also recertified, along with those of other units. Furthermore, our Life Science facilities in Bangalore (India), Buchs (Switzerland), Irvine and Haverhill (both in the United Kingdom), and Jerusalem and Rehovot (both in Israel) once again obtained OHSAS 18001 certification. Also in 2018, our site in Arklow (Ireland) was incorporated into our Group certificate, meaning that 31 of our sites are now OHSAS 18001 certified. At 30 of these sites, 100% of employees are covered by a certified safety management system, with such a system including around 70% of employees at our Darmstadt facility. The certification process helps us pinpoint weak areas, identify opportunities for improvement and take suitable measures. Other sites are also required to apply this standard.
In 2020, we plan to migrate to the new ISO 45001 certification guideline, which will replace OHSAS 18001.
The lost time injury rate (LTIR) is the indicator used to assess the success of our safety efforts. This figure measures the accidents resulting in at least one day of missed work per one million man-hours. We track the LTIR for both employees and temporary workers. Having achieved the target we set in 2010 for a 2.5 LTIR, in 2015 we set a new ambitious goal of permanently lowering this figure to 1.5 by 2020. After all, we believe that nothing is worth an accident. In 2018, our LTIR was 1.3. The majority of incidents resulting in lost time were slips, trips and falls, along with accidents involving the operation of machinery and equipment. In 2018, there were no fatal accidents.
Clear rules of conduct
Experience shows that most workplace accidents can be prevented by proper conduct. Through our “BeSafe!” safety culture initiative, we are working to educate our employees on dangers in the workplace and provide them with rules of conduct that help keep them safe. All production and warehouse sites have now been incorporated into the program. 60% former Sigma-Aldrich facilities have likewise implemented BeSafe! since being acquired by our company in 2015. The rollout at these newly acquired sites will continue until 2020.
In 2018, we conducted awareness campaigns across the Group as part of our BeSafe! program. For instance, we once again used a video in German, English and Spanish to increase employee awareness in a bid to further bolster our safety culture. The video forms part of our BeSafe! training and is also available on our Intranet. In 2018, we translated the video into Chinese, French and Japanese in order to reach more of our employees in their local language. In addition, several subsidiaries again held safety competitions. To underscore the importance of safety, in 2010 we launched the Safety Excellence Award, which is presented annually to all production sites that have no workplace accidents on record for the year. In 2018, 62 of 90 facilities achieved this honor. Furthermore, we conducted two refresher courses on key content from our BeSafe! program, as well as occupational safety training in individual countries in accordance with the statutory requirements and specific risks of each country. It is the responsibility of each facility to conduct this training.
Workplace health management
At our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites, our Health Management unit conducts an array of campaigns and programs to promote the health of our workforce. These activities are based on health indicators derived from sources such as the health report issued by our company health insurance fund, evaluations from our Site Medical Center and, since 2018, our employee surveys. We utilize the findings in the creation of prevention programs tailored to specific target groups or facilities. Moreover, our Health Management unit offers specific health programs such as mindfulness courses and workplace ergonomics consultation. Along these lines, we have a standard procedure in place for continuously assessing the working conditions and environment, making state-of-the-art updates wherever needed. If other sites express interest, our Health Management unit will advise on potential improvements or health programs. When requested, we also provide local consultation and operate campaigns by means of an internal service contract.
Since 2013, Site Catering at our Darmstadt facility has held the “Job&Fit Premium” certification from the German Nutrition Society e. V. (DGE). To obtain this certification, a strict set of regulations regarding food selection and meal planning must be met. In 2018, we received the Dr. Rainer Wild Prize for the design and realization of our new employee cafeteria in Darmstadt. In particular, we were praised for the variety and balance of the food on offer, as well as for our Job&Fit certification. This prize recognizes outstanding projects, individuals and initiatives that support and raise public awareness of healthy eating. We also offer a variety of nutritious options for our staff at our other sites.
Our employees have access to a health catalog detailing our Health Management services in both English and German. Created together with our Social Counseling and our Site Medical Center, it contains information on ergonomics, nutrition, stress, and mental health issues.
We hold the “Excellence” certification for our Germany-wide health management efforts. Sponsored by BKK Dachverband e. V., this certification is granted in recognition of companies that have implemented exemplary health management programs and met the quality criteria of the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP).
Our program to minimize chronic back pain is an integral component of our workplace health management efforts in Darmstadt and Gernsheim. This initiative, which also takes mental health factors into account, is offered in units with demonstrable need, such as a relatively high number of employees suffering from these sorts of symptoms. In 2018, we ran the program over a period of seven weeks at our site in Gernsheim, with 17 logistics employees taking part in an effort to prevent their back pain from becoming a chronic issue. Held weekly, the 90-minute sessions focused on various topics such as exercise, self-management and relaxation. We also offered one-on-one telephone coaching sessions.
Beyond this initiative, throughout Germany we offer our employees services such as our company fitness program, which provides them with up to € 195 per year towards health prevention classes. In Darmstadt and Gernsheim, we furthermore run a company sports program that currently features 25 different activities such as tennis, volleyball, strength training, triathlon, yoga, and bouldering.
In an effort to improve our workplace, we regularly analyze the ergonomics of individual workstations, implementing appropriate measures as required. Our workers also receive training on occupational ergonomics tailored to specific areas, whether manufacturing, office work or the laboratory. Moreover, we conduct wellness programs at many sites, for instance the Industrial Athlete Program (IAP) we offer to our Life Science employees in Danvers (Massachusetts, USA). Open to all workers who wish to improve their general and physical wellbeing through exercise in small groups, this initiative proved very popular and was attended by 60 people in 2018. Starting in 2019, we will be expanding the services we offer to include individual personal training sessions. This will be aimed in particular at employees with a medical certificate from a physician, but also shift workers who aren’t able to take part in group courses.
Training in mobile gyms
In September 2018, we launched and started expanding the Training Island project, which centers around mobile gyms located in renovated buses. Featuring state-of-the-art equipment and experienced trainers, participants can work out close to their office twice a week for twelve minutes. The program was designed in particular to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and to motivate employees to exercise. In addition to working out, participants can also receive an individual consultation on topics such as food and nutrition, while screening at the beginning and end of the project highlights personal successes. Initially available to Life Science and Performance Materials employees, the training islands will be open for a period of twelve months. In 2018, 300 employees made use of this offer, with 450 already having registered for 2019.
Weight Watchers at Work for shift workers
From April to July 2018, 31 Life Science and Performance Materials shift workers in Darmstadt and Gernsheim took part in the Weight Watchers at Work – Shift program. Run by Weight Watchers and redesigned in partnership with our Health Management, our company is the first to test this program. Aimed at employees with a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 25, which is considered overweight, Weight Watchers coaches provided in-depth seminars on making healthy nutritional choices and leading a more active lifestyle. The course was offered at the workplace and focused particularly on living and coping with shift work, with the schedule planned around the participants’ shifts. As well as attending seminars, employees could download the Weight Watchers app to scan the bar codes of packaged food and find out its nutritional information. This tool also provides tips on losing weight and contains thousands of healthy recipes. On average, participants lost seven kilograms during the program.
Testing and supporting our employees
Our Physical Ability Test and Health Preservation process ensures that all employees meet the health requirements for their particular tasks. This test helps us implement targeted intervention as necessary.
Our Travel Health & Medical Advisory Service assists our employees who spend a lot of time abroad on business, providing them with recommendations on necessary vaccinations and advice on hygiene risks.