One of our most fundamental responsibilities is to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all of our team members. Our commitment to occupational health and safety is directly integrated into our corporate responsibility commitments, and it is embedded within our global operations and workplace culture. We incorporate best practices to promote prevention and preparedness, and to address health and safety proactively. Our Group-wide “EHS Policy” (Principles and Strategies for Health, Safety and the Environment) outlines our guidelines and requirements, and uniform standards, to support continual improvement in our employee and environmental health and safety performance. These guidelines are also built on the requirements of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Responsible Care® program of the chemical industry.
In addition, we work to prevent and prepare for emergencies by:
We work with our corporate EQ group to monitor compliance with regulatory requirements and to administer internal and external audits. Our Cork, Ireland manufacturing facility has achieved OHSAS 18001 certification, one of the international standards for occupational health and safety management systems.
Continual EHS training to our employees is a cornerstone for driving EHS performance and improving behavior. We utilize the group-wide online training system to provide training to pertinent employees. We also emphasize best practice sharing among our facilities, and we provide resources and tools to employees via our intranet.
We are working to integrate EHS into every facet of our operations, while building a strong safety culture. Our global production sites are implementing the corporate “BeSafe!” program to provide ongoing employee awareness and engagement regarding the potential hazards in the workplace. This program includes site-based awareness activities and hands-on engagement, especially with senior management, to continually reinforce and improve our EHS performance. Through BeSafe!, we are implementing tools such as walk-abouts, risk assessments, root cause analyses, training and education, and clearly setting targets and objectives to strengthen our employee awareness, while reducing our injury rates.
By using these tools, we have seen a decrease in worker’s compensation claims in the United States. In Massachusetts alone, our focus on involving the management team at our sites in completing risk assessments has had a lasting impact on improving our safety culture and reducing the number and severity of incidents. The idea is to empower our own employees and site leaders to utilize these tools to make improvements to our EHS performance.
Our manufacturing facility in Cork, Ireland has also exemplified significant improvements in EHS performance through an enhanced culture. From a combination of initiatives focused on education, involvement and communication, managers and supervisors have played pivotal roles in getting more involved and taking clear ownership for health and safety.
Moving forward, we will continue to work on improving our systems and tools to further raise the bar, and our expectations, to enhance our safety culture. For an update on our EHS performance, including the lost time injury rate (LTIR), please visit the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany 2012 CR website.
We are also focused on providing our employees with information and tools to help them lead a healthy lifestyle, both at home and at work. Information and activities include details about our life balance and wellness programs and seminars, tips for healthy living, walking competitions among sites to encourage physical activity, health fairs and children’s health seminars to support employees’ families.
In order to reduce injury severity, reduce the number of injuries and increase employee efficiency, we offer our employees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire the Early Symptom Intervention and Prevention (ESI) Program, targeted for both work related and non-work related symptoms. This prevention program is aimed at proactive risk identification, as well as early reporting and care of symptoms to ensure a healthy workforce. It includes:
By utilizing this early intervention model, we are reducing injury severity, decreasing the number of injuries, improving ergonomic standards, and increasing employee efficiency. We will continue to work with our sites to promote this program and look to expand it globally.
In addition, we provide ergonomic risk assessments to reduce injuries and provide the safest possible work environment for employees. For example, since we had several cumulative trauma injuries within our Massachusetts laboratories, we worked with our lab technicians and engineering group to implement a series of improvements to reduce ergonomic risks. By using existing ergonomic and safety hazard assessment tools to identify and mitigate hazards associated with laboratory operations, the team successfully developed innovative solutions for driving these improvements.