The health & safety (h&s) system
The Group’s employees are its backbone. Hence their physical and psychological wellbeing (health) and their security (safety) at the workplace are considered key values at voestalpine.
This is underscored by the fact that the corporate health & safety department reports directly to one of the members of voestalpine AG’s Management Board. It is run by the Chief health & safety Officer and fosters cooperation across the Group. This department and a health & safety Committee, which is made up of employees of all four divisions as well as Works Council representatives, collaborate intensely on lowering the frequency of accidents. The accident frequency rate has already been reduced by more than 40% Group-wide since the department was established.
voestalpine’s health & safety department works to develop a health & safety culture that all employees throughout the Group can embrace. Aside from the Chief health & safety Officer, the h&s Board (comprising all Management Board members), and the h&s Committee, managers in each division also have a role to play in this connection. Safety projects that serve to prevent accidents and strengthen people’s awareness of safety issues are carried out in all divisions.
The following safety standards have been defined for the voestalpine Group:
- Every production company must put in place a safety system appropriate to its size and the nature of its activities.
- Safety audits are measures aimed at checking the lived reality of the safety culture and must be conducted by production company executives.
- Near misses must be reported, documented by way of event analyses, and appropriate actions devised and implemented.
The effectiveness of the Group-wide safety standards is reviewed annually using a web-based tool and improved as necessary through appropriate action.
voestalpine’s Management Board member responsible for workplace safety has been required to perform annual safety audits since the business year 2018/19. The managing directors responsible for workplace safety at the production companies, in turn, must carry out quarterly safety audits.
The Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) and the health status are the two key safety indicators that the companies compile uniformly throughout the Group.
Lost time injury frequency rate
The LTIFR shows the number of reportable workplace accidents entailing more than three sick days per one million hours of work.
There are stark differences in the definitions of reportable workplace accidents, sick days, and hours of work across the countries in which voestalpine works. Hence a uniform definition was put in place at the Group level. This definition has governed the figures that have been compiled since the business year 2015/16.
As a result, the numbers compiled before this date cannot be compared to the ones compiled after it.
Thanks to consistent h&s measures in the divisions, the number of workplace accidents has fallen continuously in recent years.
In the business year 2019/20, not a single fatal accident involving voestalpine employees occurred in the entire Group.
Development of the lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)
As of the March 31 reporting date
Digital Learning for health & safety
Digital learning modules are produced in five languages to transmit the Group’s health & safety values; they are available to all employees. New employees must complete these learning modules before starting their job. The modules explain voestalpine’s health & safety values and the Group’s lived health & safety culture:
- Safety and health have the highest priority.
- Our executives stand for these core values and ensure that they are complied with across the board.
- Safe work practices (SWP) are the basis for employment with voestalpine.
- Through their personal conduct, our employees affect everybody’s safety and health at the workplace.
- Responsible employees pay attention to themselves as well as to their co-workers.
- We also expect our contractors and partners to give priority to the safety and health of their employees.
- Healthy employees, who have not been harmed, are the foundation of a healthy and successful company.
- Every occupational accident is one too many and preventable.
Learning from each other: Examples of how to lower the LTIFR
A photo competition entitled, “We Work Safely,” was launched in the reporting period for all voestalpine sites. All employees were invited to take pictures of how they perform their work safely.
84 submissions from 15 countries were received. Of these, the 12 best photographs were selected through online voting and used in the creation of an annual calendar.
The health status shows the percentage of prescribed working hours during which all employees were actually present during a predefined period.
A high health status is not only good for the employees, it is also good for the company. It demonstrates the outcome of an effective health policy as well as the company’s responsible and respectful attitude toward its employees. No matter how important it is to achieve a high health status, it is equally important to ensure that employees do not come to work when they are sick.
Development of the health status
As of the March 31 reporting date
Focus on health
In 2017, voestalpine’s Steel Division started organizing short lectures for its employees in the context of 15-minute safety training modules or as standalone events entitled “Focus on Health.” The aim is to increase employees’ health skills and to promote their sensitivity and attentiveness to health-related issues. These lectures are primarily designed to expand people’s basic knowledge of issues related to health maintenance.
There has been a substantial increase in both the number of people reached and the number of events held since the lecture series was launched.
A total of 82 events were offered in the business year 2019/20; they were attended by 1,817 interested individuals. Particularly the offerings related to heart health and psychic health met with excellent acceptance:
- Nutrition: 1 event, 8 participants
- We stay healthy: 1 event, 42 participants
- Mindfulness: 4 events, 50 participants
- Addictions: 4 events, 61 participants
- Stress management: 9 events, 225
- Shift work: 14 events, 307 participants
- Heart health: 18 events, 344 participants
- Psychic health: 31 events, 780 participants
The lecture series is refined in response to needs expressed within the company.
Lectures on the following topics are being
offered in 2020:
- Heart health
- Infection prophylaxis
- Psychic health
- Shift work
- Stress management
Sixty percent of voestalpine Group companies have already been certified under an occupational safety and health management system. The certification pursuant to the new international ISO 45001 standard is carried out continually in connection with recertifications pursuant to OHSAS 18001.
Workplace safety at contractors / third-party entities
voestalpine also takes care of the health and safety of the people working for third-party entities. Binding guidelines that the employees of contractors and/or third-party entities must comply with were issued to this end.
Measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic
The final weeks of the business year 2019/20 were dominated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Group’s employees. Starting in China and then spreading globally in most of the Group’s companies, the pandemic evolved into one of the company’s biggest economic challenges in recent decades. A Coronavirus Task Force that was established at Group headquarters in February 2020 coordinated all responses to ensure our employees’ health. In addition, the evolving measures enacted by the governments of different countries had to be adequately implemented as well. For example, the Coronavirus Task Force prepared hand hygiene guidance and rules of conduct to be followed at the workplace. At the start of the crisis, Group-wide guidelines were issued for handling business trips. Subsequently, teleworking recommendations were developed and shortime work was coordinated in those countries where related state-sponsored measures were put in place. During the entire time, a great deal of attention was paid to keeping all employees informed at all times about all actions being taken.