voestalpine’s health & safety Values
Protecting its employees and their health is a central element of voestalpine’s Sustainability Strategy. What matters, day in and day out, is to implement the Group’s high standards at all facilities and refine them. We thus treat issues of health & safety with the same consistency and passion as we treat the quality of our products and processes. Because: Sustainable success is predicated on a healthy workforce in a safe environment.
Our health & safety values:
- Safety and health have the highest priority.
- Our executives stand for these core values, ensure consistent compliance with them, and assume leadership roles in doing so.
- Safe work practices (SWP) are a prerequisite for employment with voestalpine.
- Our employees’ personal conduct at the workplace affects everybody’s safety and health.
- Conscientious and 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.
OUR VISION: Zero workplace accidents.
The health & safety system
The physical and psychic health of all employees and safety at the workplace are core values for voestalpine. This is underscored by the fact that the corporate health & safety (h&s) unit 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 unit 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 approximately 50% Group-wide since the department was established five years ago.
voestalpine’s health & safety unit works to develop a health & safety culture that all employees throughout the Group can embrace. In each division, managers also have a role to play in this connection alongside the Chief health & safety Officer, the h&s Board (comprising all Management Board members who also head a division), and the h&s Committee. Safety projects that serve to prevent accidents and strengthen people’s awareness of safety issues are carried out in all divisions.
The voestalpine Group has defined the following safety standards:
- 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 performed. The Group established uniform definitions of reportable workplace accidents, sick days, and working hours in the business year 2015/16 because there are stark differences in the given rules and regulations that apply in individual countries.
Thanks to consistent h&s measures in the divisions, the number of workplace accidents has fallen continuously in recent years. There were 626 reportable workplace accidents and one fatal accident among employees of the voestalpine Group during the business year 2020/21.
The accident reports are recorded in a central database system for the purpose of carrying out event analyses and filing the information with the authorities. Appropriate improvement measures are adopted and communicated based on the findings of the event analyses.
The number of near misses is recorded in accordance with voestalpine’s safety standards using a Group-wide h&s Web-based tool. If compliance at a facility with the required processes is insufficient, it must report planned improvement measures along with the completion date in this Web-based tool.
The health status shows the percentage of prescribed working hours during which all employees were actually present during a pre-defined 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.
Occupational health & safety and health promotion
voestalpine’s larger facilities (for example, Linz and Donawitz in Austria) have dedicated occupational health & safety centers that offer not only acute medical care but also preventive care, physical therapy, vaccination campaigns, and physical instruction. Employees can use this medical support structure to avail themselves of voestalpine’s employee health programs that surpass the statutory occupational health programs. At smaller facilities, occupational medical services are provided by select external partners.
There is no Group-wide guidance for such voluntary measures to promote employee health; instead, they are planned and carried out by the individual companies themselves. A survey of 168 voestalpine Group companies has shown that such measures focus on movement and ergonomics, medical tests and exams, mental health, vaccinations, and healthy nutrition.
health & safety Management systems
Absolutely all of voestalpine’s production companies have a health & safety management system, and 50% are certified pursuant to ISO 45001 (previously OHSAS 18001). This means that some 30,500 employees (72%) working in production are employed at a facility that has a certified occupational safety system.
Some 80% of the safety experts and/or health & safety officers are employees of voestalpine; at smaller facilities, external experts are hired to provide these services. voestalpine implements absolutely all laws pertaining to the protection of employees in all countries in which it works. In addition, compliance with the h&s Group guideline that the Management Board of voestalpine AG adopted in April 2021 is mandatory.
This guideline regulates the following issues:
- Our health & safety values
- Group-wide safety standards
- Reality checks
- Safety for new employees
- Implementation responsibility
All relevant companies are certified under ISO 45001 up to the business year 2024/25.
health & safety Training
voestalpine Group companies regularly hold safety meetings with all of their employees. There is a monthly meeting between the master craftsman and their staff. The safety experts and health & safety officers at the production plants explain occupational safety rules and regulations during the monthly “15-minute safety training modules.” These regular meetings, which are also attended by the Works Council, serve to discuss and adopt action steps aimed at improving workplace safety. The frequency of the meetings is contingent on the size of the given company and the participation of people from various levels of the hierarchy. In addition, physical safety inspections are conducted once every quarter by management and once a year by the Management Board.
health & safety training was rolled out Group-wide in the business year 2020/21. It is available in 14 languages and must be completed particularly by new employees. The company’s h&s values and the safety standards are imparted in this online training, which supplements the in-person training. These training sessions vividly demonstrate to employees how voestalpine’s safety culture is developed and lived. The online module can be accessed from any PC via a learning portal. Additional training is carried out for managers as well as for master craftsman as part of their qualification program.
Focus on health
voestalpine’s Steel Division has been organizing so-called “Focus on Health” events since 2017. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, fewer lectures were offered in the business year 2020/21 than in previous years. Overall, 403 people participated in 23 events regarding issues such as stress management, mindfulness, mental health, and muscle relaxation.
Workplace safety at contractors/third-party entities
voestalpine also endeavors to protect the life and health of third-party employees. Binding guidelines that the employees of contractors and third-party companies must comply with have been issued to this end.
Compliance with voestalpine’s safety standards and participation in safety training events are mandatory. In Austria, a badge that attests to completion of the safety training must be worn visibly.
The training that is conducted as part of the Safety Training Environment (SATRE) is prescribed in the company’s General Terms and Conditions; compliance with implementation of the training is reviewed in connection with supplier assessments.
Temporary employees are treated the same as regular employees and thus are also trained and instructed with respect to occupational safety.
Measures to protect our employees against COVID-19
voestalpine’s management took rapid action at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect its employees from becoming infected. A task force was put in place as early as in February 2020. It is made up of the CEO, the senior managers of voestalpine AG, the HR managers of the divisions, and representatives of the occupational medical services. The task force acts in a timely manner to coordinate all measures required for protecting our employees’ health & safety in different regions. It has been meeting once a week since the start of the pandemic.
A COVID-19 prevention package was made available to all Group companies. Current information on all COVID-19 measures (along with links to the relevant governmental information) are communicated Group-wide via email, newsletters, board notices, and articles in the intranet.