Our Approach to Occupational Health and Safety
With over 80,000 people working for us, we are fully committed to keeping them safe and healthy, and supporting their wellbeing. Our approach is to strive for zero incidents, every day. This requires a global safety culture whereby constant vigilance on our personal safety and the safety of those around us is integrated into our everyday working lives. We are building this culture through awareness-raising initiatives at the global and local levels, underpinned by extensive management systems.
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Our CATALYST survey shows that over 80% of our employees believe that SGS is committed to employee safety, such as providing appropriate equipment and training on safety rules. We raise awareness of safety issues in a variety of ways.
Rules for Life
The SGS Rules for Life are 12 non-negotiable rules that help save lives. They apply to all employees, contractors and others working on behalf of SGS. In 2013, the Rules for Life continued to be incorporated in all our safety-related communications, including the Safety Day, the quarterly campaigns, safety calendar, wallet cards and posters.
Leadership site visits
Chief Operating Officers, Managing Directors and site managers conduct site visits to reinforce our safety culture. The senior managers are coached by Operational Integrity (OI) managers on how to conduct such visits, and are provided with a mobile app which has advice on key issues such as topics for conducting safety talks and an interactive audit tool that tracks audits and findings. In 2013 there were over 5,000 leadership site visits, more than double the number from the previous year.
We conduct quarterly global OI campaigns to further our commitment to creating a safer and healthier work environment. In 2013, there were campaigns on the Incident Management Guide, Road and Travel Safety and Personal Protective Equipment.
July 19, 2013 was our first global Safety Day, with all affiliates required to take part. Under the theme “Time for others”, teams were encouraged to “take time to understand how our actions and behaviors can impact the safety of others”, including considering the management of local risks. In total, more than 42,000 people, both contractors and employees, took part. Please see our 2013 Sustainability Highlights for more information on the Safety Day.
Road and Travel Safety
We responded to a series of serious road accidents in the first quarter of 2013 by immediately rolling out a global Road and Travel Safety campaign. It included a campaign video on road safety, translated into 12 languages, and a Road Safety Guide covering:
- Travel management plans
- Managing fatigue
- Monthly vehicle inspections
- Defensive driving
- Safety tips for driving different types of vehicle
- Use of in-vehicle monitoring systems
Please see our 2013 Sustainability Highlights for more information on road safety and in-vehicle monitoring systems.
Working in a laboratory environment can present potential hazards, such as exposure to carcinogens or damage to hearing. These hazards need to be identified and measured to determine if additional controls are required, as part of industrial hygiene. For example, SGS North America has developed Comprehensive Exposure Assessments (CEAs) for exposure to chemicals, radiation and noise, in addition to a CEA for ergonomic issues which can also affect office-based staff. The CEAs, also known as Health Risk Assessments, are a legal requirement and are conducted whenever new facilities, tests or equipment might cause exposure to hazardous environments or when changes to existing conditions could result in increased exposure. CEAs are mandated in the Safety Plans of relevant business lines; in 2013 we conducted a series of CEAs in North America. The results found no over-exposures and it was determined that existing controls, such as the use of respirators or hearing protectors, were adequate.
Previously industrial hygiene had been implemented on an affiliate-by-affiliate basis. In 2013 we appointed a Global Manager of Industrial Hygiene (IH) to roll-out our IH program across the company, to standardize our approach. We conducted IH training for the Africa, Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe & Middle East regions and provided employee exposure monitoring equipment for chemical and physical stressors. Data can be stored and analyzed through our new Open Range database; our North America region is already using the system.
Our new Safety Data Sheet Management System (ChemWatch) was rolled out in February 2013, with expected completion and global application of the system in 2014. This will give us consolidated and up-to-date information on potential hazards associated with the chemicals we use in our laboratories, and how to manage these.
As part of a preventative strategy for managing the health and safety of employees and subcontractors in countries with a high risk of communicable diseases, we offer education, training, counseling, prevention, and risk-control programs to assist employees, their families and community members. For example, our malaria control procedure has been implemented in the majority of affiliates in Africa, providing preventative equipment to staff who work in areas that may put them at higher risk. In Benin, we have provided Permethrin impregnated bed nets to all employees, including their families.
SGS India held a series of health awareness sessions run by medical professionals from local hospitals across six locations during December 2013. Around 270 employees attended the ‘Heart to Heart’ cardiac awareness program, aimed at protecting and saving lives from heart disease.
Operational Integrity management system (OIMS)
OIMS is a company-wide, integrated management system, providing employees and contractors, and customers at their request, with a single interface to all our health and safety documentation. Our CEO heads the Steering Committee for this system, which also includes a range of other senior managers. The system is designed to be aligned with internationally recognized standards, including Quality (ISO 9001), Health and Safety (OHSAS 18001), Environmental (ISO 14001), Inspection Management (ISO 17020:1998), Testing and Calibration Laboratory (ISO 17025:2005), and Sustainability (ISO 26000:2010) standards.
In 2013, this system was rolled out to 66 affiliates in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, China and Chile. The roll-out has recently begun in Western Europe.
Our Crystal system provides a standardized incident management and reporting interface in 10 languages and has been implemented across the Group. This data-driven approach expedites our regulatory and client-mandated incident reporting. Our focus in 2014 will be on ensuring all data collected through Crystal meets our high standards, and greater use of data analysis to identify trends.
Incident investigation methodology
In 2013 we developed our new incident investigation root cause methodology, driven by the need for a simplified methodology that anyone could understand and use with minimal guidance. It includes an online tool to create a visual timeline of the incident and actions that caused or contributed to it. This will be rolled out to Operational Integrity managers in training workshops in 2014, with a film showing a re-enactment of an actual incident to demonstrate practical issues such as how to gather evidence and manage an accident scene.