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Health and safety

A dedication to employee wellbeing

We are committed to providing a safe working environment for all our employees and contractors and have a Group goal of zero accidents. Our work to protect and maintain employees’ occupational health is part of our commitment to employees’ physical, mental and social wellbeing.

We have a Group Health & Safety Policy that aims to apply the best international standards of practice relating to the health and safety of employees at work and non-company personnel on company premises and to give a high priority to these activities.

The Policy applies across all our activities. It requires our companies – as well as complying with all applicable laws and regulations – to commit to the prevention of employee injury and ill-health and strive for continual improvement in our health and safety management and performance. This is done through setting clear objectives, including the monitoring and measurement of key performance indicators.

Health and Safety Policy Statement (31 kb) 

The Policy is backed by detailed specific requirements for all our sites as part of our Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) management system. Our EHS system has been in place for many years and is based on international standards.

In 2016, 17 locations across all regions were certified to the OHSAS 18001 international occupational health and safety standard.

Protecting the health and safety of our workforce

We are committed to a safe working environment for all our employees and contractors worldwide and have a Group-wide goal of zero accidents.

We focus on risk management and assessments, employee training and awareness, and specific initiatives for high-risk areas of our business.

In 2016, total reported accidents remained steady. However, we were pleased to achieve an 8% improvement in our Lost Workday Case Incident Rate – from 0.26 in 2015 to 0.24 in 2016.

Nearly 70% of total accidents are in Trade Marketing & Distribution (TM&D), where we have over 26,000 drivers out on the road every day who are particularly vulnerable to road traffic accidents (RTAs) and robberies.

Our fleet and driver safety programme focuses on addressing these risks through: enhanced global vehicle specifications and safety controls; driver training to improve skills and hazard perception; toolkits and practical guidance for management; security protocols and escorts in high-risk locations; efficient route-to-market planning; and tracking progress through quarterly business reviews.

As a result, in 2016, we achieved a 14% reduction in accidents in the TM&D area of the business.

Sadly, however, four contractors lost their lives – three in armed robberies and one in a fall from height, and two employees died – one in an RTA and one in a train accident. In addition, two members of the public lost their lives in accidents involving our vehicles.

While this is a reduction in fatalities compared to 2015, any loss of life is completely unacceptable and is a matter of enormous concern to us. We deeply regret this loss of life and the suffering caused to family, friends and colleagues.

We want to reduce the chances of similar events happening again. So we carry out detailed reviews of all reported accidents and fatalities to learn lessons and identify where we can improve our approach to ensure the health and safety of all our employees and contractors.

We also have programmes around the world that protect and promote health and wellbeing for employees, their families and local communities. These include medical services and insurance, healthy lifestyle and fitness schemes and family-friendly policies and initiatives, such as flexible working and help with childcare.

Full details of our safety performance can be viewed in our sustainability performance centre .

Occupational health

We aim to be among the leaders in occupational health management. We focus on identifying hazards, assessing risks to people’s health at work and introducing appropriate controls. Our companies have programmes to protect and promote health and wellbeing for employees, their families and, in some cases, local communities. These are particularly valuable in those parts of the world where local health services struggle to provide an adequate service and those that have higher risk of communicable diseases.

While we do not directly employ tobacco farmers or farm workers, tobacco growing is a significant part of our supply chain for which green tobacco sickness (GTS) is a risk. GTS is a type of nicotine poisoning caused when nicotine is absorbed through the skin from wet tobacco leaves. It’s a real risk to farmers and their workers if they harvest tobacco when it’s wet.

Raising awareness of GTS is a major priority for us and we’ve been working with farmers to explain some of the ways they can reduce the risk of developing GTS, such as only handling dry leaves. We also encourage more farmers to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available to their workers. PPE includes gloves, trousers and clothes made from impermeable cloth. In addition, we’re also helping farmers to recognise the symptoms of GTS and how to treat it.