We take responsibility for the health and safety of our employees every single day and do everything we can to protect them against accidents and work-related illnesses. To this end, we take measures to prevent health issues from arising in the first place.
Our approach to preventing accidents and promoting health
We seek to promote the health and well-being of our employees and sustain their long-term performance ability, which in turn necessitates a safe workplace. We are therefore constantly working to further strengthen our health and safety culture.
The lost time injury rate (LTIR) is the indicator used to gauge the success of our occupational safety efforts. It is a global measure of the number of accidents resulting in at least one day of missed work per one million hours worked. We determine the Group-wide LTIR both for our employees and supervised temporary staff. Our objective is to lower LTIR to below 1.0 by 2025.
Generally, before starting an activity anywhere in the world, we perform a hazard assessment to identify risks and do everything possible to eliminate them before commencing the activity or commissioning a plant. If this is not feasible, we put measures in place to minimize the likelihood of risks and their potential impacts. Hazard assessments are the responsibility of our individual sites and are therefore conducted by them.
Since the start of 2022, we have been developing a Group-wide health strategy for our employees to enable them to maintain and promote their health.
Through the efforts of our Health Management unit, we are bolstering our company and health culture at our global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. We examine the effectiveness of Health Management using a performance indicator system, based on the employees’ health-related responses in our annual anonymous Employee Engagement Survey. We use this survey to calculate our Healthiness Index, which aims to reflect the general state of health of our employees Group-wide. The index enables us to assess the data at team level (groups of at least ten), a minimum threshold that enables us to protect the anonymity of individuals.
Moreover, Health Management at our Darmstadt site also makes use of the findings from our company insurance fund’s health report, along with evaluations from our Site Medical Center. We use all of this input both to create target group-specific or unit-specific prevention programs as well as to advise the local management. When specific indicators such as workplace stress start rising, additional consultation meetings take place between Health Management and the respective units.
Roles and responsibilities
Our EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) management system is the responsibility of Corporate Sustainability, Quality and Trade Compliance, which in turn reports to the Chair of the Executive Board. This Group function sets objectives, oversees the respective initiatives globally and conducts internal EHS audits. Local EHS managers and their teams ensure that our individual sites comply with all occupational health and safety laws and regulations. They are also responsible for local projects, campaigns and programs.
Employees concerned about their health or safety are permitted to temporarily step back from their work until the issue has been resolved. Globally, across the Group, they are encouraged to report such concerns via our compliance hotline.
At our Darmstadt site, we also have safety councils and committees that convene to address health and safety issues, coordinating strategies and focus areas with site senior leaders, health and safety experts, and employees. Moreover, Health Management at the Darmstadt site contributes to embedding the topic of health into our company culture. After implementing each measure, the Health Management team asks all participants for their anonymous feedback on their experience and suggestions for improvement, which help shape the development of further initiatives.
At the Darmstadt site, our interdisciplinary Mental Health Team is working to tackle the growing challenges surrounding mental health in an effort to protect our workforce against psychological stress. The team provides our employees with support from a single source.
In addition to this service, we offer a telephone hotline in all 66 countries in which we operate, giving our employees and their relatives access to confidential mental health and social counseling services around the clock.
Safety delegates and health partners
At our sites globally, we have safety delegates who, in addition to their usual duties, help their supervisors ensure compliance with safety regulations and requirements. At the same time, they act as points of contact for their colleagues regarding safety-related matters.
At our Darmstadt site as well as other German sites, health partners also act as the interface between our employees and Health Management. They function as a health-related liaison for colleagues while also informing their teams about the health programs and services on offer. At the same time, they make recommendations to Health Management regarding employee needs. Our employees undergo training before taking up their role as a safety delegate or health partner.
Our commitment: Policies and company agreements
Our Corporate EHS Policy (Corporate Environment, Health and Safety Policy) describes our fundamental approach to occupational health and safety. It is an integral part of our EHS management system and undergoes an external ISO 45001 audit every year.
Our Group-wide Health Policy specifies our approach to ensuring workplace safety for our employees while also promoting their health and well-being. In this policy, we set out our Group-wide approach to health and safety management, which is aimed at preventing workplace accidents and occupational illnesses.
It is our aim to ensure that environmental, health and safety aspects are also respected in our partnerships with contractors throughout the entire relationship, from starting a job to completion. This objective is reflected in our Contractor EHS Management Standard.
At our sites in Germany, we abide by company agreements on occupational health and safety that have been drawn up in partnership with employee representatives. For instance, our Occupational Integration Management company agreement, which applies to all our sites in Germany, governs the procedure for employees who have been on extended sick leave. The aim is to retain an employee’s position while also helping to prevent adverse health impacts after the respective employee returns to work.
We also have occupational health and safety company agreements in place at 13 other sites in Europe. These cover all activities required to comply with national occupational safety regulations, such as workplace hazard assessments and regular occupational safety analyses. These company agreements also include on-site health offers for our employees.
Safety certification at our sites
As part of a Group certificate, our occupational health and safety management system was ISO 45001-certified at 61 sites at the end of 2022. The sites define individually the scope of their certification. For instance, at our global headquarters in Darmstadt, ISO 45001 covers around 70% of the workforce; we ensure occupational health and safety for the remaining 30% of employees who do not work in operating units as well as those working at non-certified sites through our globally integrated management system. This also covers EHS concerns. The certification process helps us to identify weak areas as well as opportunities for improvement. This enables us to take appropriate measures in a timely manner in order to ensure the health and safety of our employees in the future. Other sites are also urged to apply this standard.
Our employees are required to immediately report any relevant occupational accidents to Corporate Sustainability, Quality and Trade Compliance, where the incidents are assessed. If necessary, we then implement additional safety measures at our sites. This procedure is now practiced across all of our production facilities around the world.
We track the following occupational safety data across our sites worldwide:
- The LTIR measures the accidents resulting in at least one day of missed work per one million hours worked. In 2022, our LTIR of 1.2 remained unchanged in comparison with the previous year. The majority of incidents resulting in lost time were slips, trips and falls, along with contusions and lacerations from the operation of machinery and equipment. Once more, in 2022, we recorded no fatal accidents.
- We use our Environment, Health and Safety Incident Rate (EHS IR) to track incidents.
- Alongside this indicator, in the United States we also use the Occupational Illness Rate to monitor work-related illnesses and their long-term effects.
Clear rules of conduct
Experience shows that most workplace accidents can be prevented by proper conduct. For our occupational health and safety, it is therefore essential that our employees have the relevant EHS training and certification. We not only educate our employees on occupational health and safety, but actively involve them in our efforts. For instance, we ask them to participate in walkabouts and in the selection of personal protective gear. This involvement is crucial because our employees best understand what they need in specific work situations. This enables us to continuously improve our occupational health and safety practices and performance.
Group-wide, all new EHS managers must complete a three-day EHS onboarding that covers topics such as occupational health and safety as well as our BeSafe! safety culture program. Through this initiative, we raise employee awareness of occupational hazards and teach them rules for safe behavior. In addition, we regularly provide occupational safety training at our sites covering both legal requirements as well as the specific local risks.
Promoting employee health
For employees at our Darmstadt site, our Health Management unit offers specific health services such as mindfulness courses and ergonomics consultation. Moreover, we continuously assess the working conditions and the respective working environment, making improvements in accordance with the latest scientific findings. We use a standardized process for this. We publish a health catalog in German and English that summarizes all the services offered by our Health Management unit. It covers various topics including ergonomics, nutrition, stress, and mental health issues. In 2022, the BKK umbrella association (of the German company health insurance funds) presented Health Management at the Darmstadt site with the “Deutsches Siegel Unternehmensgesundheit”. Its quality and effectiveness in various categories were examined as part of an external auditing process in which experts took our strategies, key figures and offers as well as analyzed results of employee surveys into account. With the support of our company health insurance fund (BKK) and additional in-house interfaces, Health Management was awarded a gold seal – the highest possible recognition, received by only five of the 40 audited companies.
Protective measures and vaccination campaigns
Our measures to protect our workforce against Covid-19 at our sites in Darmstadt and Gernsheim are based on two pillars:
- Testing: By the end of December 2022, we had performed approximately 73,650 antigen rapid tests at our in-house company testing centers at the two aforementioned German sites.
- Vaccinating: In February 2021, our Site Medical Center initiated a Covid-19 vaccination campaign at the two aforementioned German sites. By December 2022, we had administered more than 21,850 vaccine doses to our employees in Darmstadt and Gernsheim as well as their family members.
In addition to our Covid-19 vaccination campaign, we also offered flu shots to employees at our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites in autumn 2022, vaccinating more than 2,400 employees.
Across Germany, our employees can take advantage of offerings such as our company fitness program, which encompasses a range of disease prevention courses that are subsidized by our company. Additionally, in Darmstadt and Gernsheim, we have a company sports program with 32 different athletic activities. In 2022, we were only able to offer 21 different athletic activities as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
Physicals and support for our employees
Our Physical Ability Test and Health Preservation process allows us to ensure that all employees meet the health requirements for their particular tasks and duties. Depending on the job profile, some of our employees undergo pre-hiring physicals and physical aptitude tests. Our Travel Health & Medical Advisory Service assists employees who travel abroad, providing them with recommendations on necessary vaccinations and advice on hygiene risks.