health & safety

      SDG 3 – Good health and well-being

      World Science Day for Peace and Development  (Photo)
      health and safety by voestalpine (logo)

      Safety at the workplace and the health of its employees are core voestalpine values and thus have the highest priority. We work to further reduce the frequency of accidents and to improve the health of all employees of the voestalpine Group—wherever they work, whatever their position. Safety standards that apply Group-wide are at the root of an effective health & safety culture.

      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 to continually refine them. Hence we treat health & safety (h&s) with the same consistency and passion as we ensure the quality of our products and processes. Because: Sustainable success is predicated on a healthy workforce in a safe environment.

      • 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, unharmed employees 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 health and psychological well-being of all employees and safety at the workplace are core voestalpine values. This is underscored by the fact that the corporate health & safety 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 a Works Council, collaborate intensely on lowering the frequency of accidents.

      voestalpine’s health & safety unit works to develop a health & safety culture that all employees throughout the Group can embrace. Managers in each division—in addition to the Chief health & safety Officer, the h&s Board (comprising all Management Board members), and the h&s Committee—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 health & safety system (organizational chart)

      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 and then documented by way of event analyses, and appropriate actions must then be 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 indicates the frequency of accidents based on the number of reportable workplace accidents entailing more than three sick days per one million hours of work performed. Given stark differences in the rules and regulations that apply in individual countries, the Group has established uniform definitions of reportable workplace accidents, sick days, and working hours.

      The number of workplace accidents has dropped sharply in recent years thanks to consistent h&s measures in the divisions. In the business year 2021/22, there were 759 reportable workplace accidents but not a single fatal accident among employees of the voestalpine Group.

      Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible to conduct an adequate amount of face-to-face training on the topic of workplace safety at all production plants. This explains the slight increase in the accident frequency rate during the reporting period.

      Development of the lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR)

      As of the March 31 reporting date

      Development of the lost time injury frequency rate (LTIRF) (barchart)

      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, Web-based health & safety tool. If compliance at a facility with the required processes is insufficient, the facility in question must report planned improvement measures along with the completion date in this Web-based tool.

      Health status

      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.

      Development of the health status

      As of the March 31 reporting date

      Development of the health status (barchart)

      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 basic psychological interventions. Employees can use this medical support structure to avail themselves of voestalpine’s employee health programs that exceed the scope of 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 aimed at promoting employee health; instead, they are planned and carried out by the individual companies themselves. 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 health & safety 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 check
      • Safety for new employees
      • Responsibility for implementation

      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 craftsmen and their respective 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 safety-related topics and to adopt action steps aimed at improving workplace safety. The frequency of the meetings is contingent on the size of the given entity 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 all employees are required to take the course and complete it. voestalpine’s h&s values and safety standards are imparted in this online training, which supplements face-to-face training.

      These training sessions vividly demonstrate to employees how voestalpine’s safety culture is developed and practiced. 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 craftsmen in connection with their qualification program.

      Focus on health

      A hotline serving all employees was established right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic during the very first lockdown at the Linz facility. People were free to share their insecurities, worries, or concerns with a psychologist, who provided low-threshold assistance. The “Focus on Health” portfolio of short lectures was adjusted as well. In the past five business years, this format has been used directly on site to train small groups of employees on a variety of topics. Due to the pandemic, this format was expanded in the business year 2021/22 to include online training also. Among other things, the focus was on tried and tested content such as shift work or nutrition, as well as on current issues such as stress management or a round of fitness training for the soul. A total of about 400 employees participated in 26 events. These offerings were supplemented by an online course named “Strong Back,” which by now has become a regular feature and is conducted twice a week under the guidance of a certified physical therapist. A total of 1,851 log-ins were registered for 56 event dates without requiring a major investment, making it possible to integrate more fitness into employees’ day-to-day work routines.

      Workplace safety at contractors/third-party entities

      voestalpine also works to protect the life and health of third-party employees. Binding guidelines, which the employees of contractors and third-party companies must comply with, have been issued to this end.

      Both 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 in the same way as regular employees and thus are also trained and instructed with respect to occupational safety.

      Measures to protect our employees against COVID-19

      In the business year 2021/22, voestalpine’s management once again took all necessary steps to manage the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of a task force. This task force comprises the CEO, senior managers of voestalpine AG, the HR managers of the divisions, and representatives of the company’s occupational medical services. It acts in timely fashion to coordinate all measures required for protecting our employees’ health & safety in different regions and has been meeting once a week since the onset of the pandemic. A COVID-19 prevention package was made available to all Group companies. Current information is communicated Group-wide via email newsletters, board notices, and articles in the intranet, along with links to relevant information published by national government agencies. Various publications have been disseminated in both German and English.