We take responsibility for the health and safety of our employees, doing everything in our power to safeguard them against work-related illnesses and accidents. When it comes to office work, issues such as stress prevention, nutrition and mobility are top priorities. Here, we focus our efforts on helping our employees prevent temporary or long-term health problems.
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 run, which requires a safe workplace. One of our Group-wide objectives is to step up our safety culture. Our goal for 2020 is to keep our lost time injury rate (LTIR) under 1.5. Furthermore, we are working to make workplace health management a greater part of our corporate culture and leadership.
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. This unit reports to Executive Board member Walter Galinat, setting objectives, overseeing global initiatives and conducting internal audits. Local EHS managers ensure that each individual site adheres to occupational safety laws and regulations.
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.
Furthermore, our Life Science business sector holds monthly safety calls with local EHS officers to share lessons learned and discuss recommended actions for comparable situations.
At our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites, our Health Management unit helps weave health awareness into our corporate culture. The strategy necessary, 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, and the Head of Health Management. Topics include workplace health fundamentals, good leadership and tailored health programs.
Our commitment: Policies and bylaws
Our approach to occupational health and safety is detailed in our Corporate Environment, Health and Safety 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 bylaws on occupational health and safety. Our Employee Care bylaw defines processes such as employee care conversations, which help our managers 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 nearly all our facilities in Germany. This bylaw aims to help keep the employee's position open while also helping prevent adverse health impacts after their return to work.
Safety certification expanded
By the end of 2017, all Performance Materials production sites had been certified to the international standard OHSAS 18001. In 2017, the Healthcare facilities at our Darmstadt site were certified, along with those of other units. Our Life Science facilities in Bangalore (India), Buchs (Switzerland), Irvine and Haverhill (both in the United Kingdom), and Jerusalem and Rehovot (both in Israel) are now OHSAS 18001 certified. The certification process helps us pinpoint weak areas, identify opportunities for improvement and take suitable measures. Other sites have also been required to apply this standard.
Reducing our accident rate
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. After having achieved our 2010 target of a 2.5 LTIR, in 2015 we set a new ambitious goal of sustainably lowering the LTIR to 1.5 by 2020. In our view, nothing is worth an accident. In 2017, our LTIR was 1.5. The majority of incidents resulting in lost time were slips, trips and falls, along with accidents involving the operation of machinery and equipment. In 2017, 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 raise employee awareness of 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. Eight 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 2017, we conducted initiatives, campaigns, and awareness efforts across the Group as part of our BeSafe! program. For instance, by means of a safety video we increased employee awareness in a bid to further bolster our safety culture. In addition, several subsidiaries held safety competitions. To underscore the importance of safety, we launched the Safety Excellence Award in 2010, which is presented annually to all production sites that have no workplace accidents on record for the year. In 2017, 59 of 97 facilities achieved this honor. Furthermore, we conducted refresher training on key content from our BeSafe! program.
Workplace health management
At our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites, our Health Management unit conducts numerous campaigns and programs to promote the health of our workforce. These activities are based on health indicators derived from sources such as our employee surveys, the health report issued by our company health insurance fund and evaluations from our Site Medical Center. We utilize the analysis findings in the creation of prevention programs tailored to specific target groups or facilities.
Moreover, our Health Management unit offers individualized health programs such as awareness 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 provide local consultation and promotional activities by means a service contract.
Since 2013, our Darmstadt site's restaurant & catering services have been certified with the “Job&Fit Premium” certification from the German Nutrition Society e. V. (DGE). For our healthy and sustainable employee food service in Darmstadt, we were nominated in 2017 for the Dr. Rainer Wild Prize, which recognizes outstanding projects, individuals and initiatives in support of healthy nutrition.
Our employees have access to a health catalog detailing our Health Management offerings. Available in English and German, it contains information on ergonomics, nutrition, stress, and mental health issues.
In 2017, we were granted the “Excellence” certification for our Germany-wide health management efforts, presented under the auspices of the 2016/2017 German Corporate Health Award sponsored by BKK Dachverband e. V. This organization recognizes companies that have implemented exemplary health management programs and met the quality criteria of the European Network For Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP).
Launched at the end of 2016, our program to minimize chronic back pain has become an integral component of our workplace health management activities 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.
Throughout Germany, we also regularly offer our employees services such as our company´s fitness program, which provides them with up to € 195 per year towards health prevention classes. In Darmstadt and Gernsheim, we furthermore run a company athletics program that currently features 25 different sports.
In an effort to improve our workplace, we analyze the ergonomics of individual workstations and then implement any measures required. Our workers also receive training on occupational ergonomics tailored to specific areas such as manufacturing, office work or the laboratory. Moreover, we conduct programs at many sites, doing so either ourselves or in collaboration with external providers. Our Life Science employees at our Bedford (MA), Danvers (MA) and Jaffrey (NH) sites in the United States, for instance, have access to the Early Symptom Intervention and Prevention Program (ESI), which saw 59 people participate from January to April 2017. In early 2018, we replaced the ESI program at the Jaffrey facility with a pilot of the Industrial Athlete Program (IAP). While ESI focused on individuals with pre-existing conditions, IAP is open to all employees who wish to improve their physical and general wellbeing through exercise in small groups.
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 employees who spend a lot of time abroad on business for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, providing them with recommendations on necessary vaccinations and advice on hygiene risks.