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.
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.
We have a Group-wide goal of zero accidents and a commitment to providing a safe working environment for all our 50,000+ employees and contractors worldwide.
Our people work in a diverse range of environments and conditions, from city offices to remote farms. Thousands also work in distribution and sales, often spending long periods on the road when they are vulnerable to road traffic accidents, particularly in developing countries where the transport infrastructure can be poor.
To reduce the main causes of accidents and serious injuries, we focus on risk management and assessments, and in 2015 we further rolled-out our enhanced driver safety programme. Where there is also a risk of armed assault, our personnel may also be escorted by trained security teams when out on the road.
As a result, while total accidents across the Group remained relatively steady in 2015 with a small 1.7% reduction, we achieved a 15% reduction in road traffic accidents. Sadly, however, six contractors died as a result of armed attacks and one contractor died in a road traffic accident. In addition, six members of the public lost their lives in road traffic accidents involving our vehicles.
We deeply regret this loss of life and the suffering caused. We carry out reviews of all reported accidents and fatalities to learn lessons and identify actions to reduce the chances of similar events happening again. We expect our enhanced driver safety programme to lead to a reduction in fatalities in this high-risk area of our business.
We 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 .
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.
Our Significant Endemic Disease programme aims to reduce the impacts of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS and hepatitis on employees, their families and communities. It includes a range of interventions such as vaccination, peer education, water purification, nutrition and personal hygiene.
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 has become 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.