Why this topic is important to us
Keeping our employees safe and sound is a top priority for Bilfinger. As a consequence, occupational safety is a key aspect of everything we do. Moreover, the safety of our work processes, the implementation of campaigns on safety at the workplace, and KPIs for workplace safety are important criteria that our customers increasingly ask for prior to awarding a contract to our firm.
At Bilfinger, the topic of occupational safety is coordinated by Corporate HSEQ. It is this central governance function that creates the preconditions for the Group-wide implementation of our HSEQ management system.
The workplace safety measures developed by Corporate HSEQ are embodied in a number of policies that have Group-wide application. In some cases, they go beyond the scope of what is stipulated by the applicable national laws and requirements. Responsibility for ensuring compliance with the standards for occupational safety lies with the executives of each local unit, since they are best able to make allowance for locally applicable laws and working conditions.
Corporate HSEQ as well as local HSEQ specialists assist the operating units in their efforts to adhere to the programs and measures and in developing these programs and measures. In many instances, supplemental regulations and systems based on Group guidelines and policies regarding HSEQ have been put in place for this purpose.
The Executive Board is informed regularly on matters of workplace safety by the quarterly HSEQ Report. This report encompasses all of the Group companies and thus every single one of the workplaces at Bilfinger. In the event of a particularly serious accident, the Executive Board is informed immediately, and is also promptly apprised of the analysis performed and any corrective measures that need to be taken. In accordance with applicable legal requirements, committees on occupational safety have been established in all organizationally independent units in the relevant countries.
We deploy a management software (Synergi Life, known as “ACTIVE” at Bilfinger) that allows HSEQ-related events anywhere in the world to be recorded, reported, and processed in accordance with uniform standards. An App allows executives and employees to quickly and easily document accident hazards, narrowly avoided accidents, and incidents directly on site.
Our occupational safety systems are certified as effective under the industrial standards such as OHSAS 18001 and SCC/SCP (Safety Certificate Contractors / Safety Certificate Personnel Leasing) or pursuant to comparable standards, whereby 80 percent of our operating units hold at least one such certificate. We regularly conduct internal audits at all our subsidiaries. These internal audits are supplemented by additional audits performed by external parties, e.g. certifying entities, public authorities, and customers. In this way, we ensure that our systems’ efficacy is verified on a continuing, regularly recurring basis and that we are able to make further improvements going forward.
In the financial year 2018, the Lost Time Injury Frequency indicator (LTIF = accidents per 1 million working hours performed) amounted to 0.66 for the Group as a whole. This translates into a reduction of 11 percent relative to the prior year (0.74). The LTIF performance indicator used by Bilfinger covers accidents resulting in at least one lost day of work on the part of employees or temporary personnel.
Despite the fact that we have ramped up our occupational safety measures, 2018 marked the first recurrence in some time of work-related fatal accidents of employees or temporary personnel. An employee in Scandinavia fell to his death at a flood barrier and six employees in Eastern Europe were killed when a tank exploded. We have set up a special program for the two companies at which these accidents occurred, as well as for another company that failed to meet our strict safety standards in 2018. Under this program, the companies concerned are required to thoroughly and systematically shore up their occupational safety measures, to provide regular reports on their activities in this context, and to conduct workshops and provide training to their employees. Each month, employees from Corporate HSEQ work together with the local HSEQ units to assist them in implementing this program.
As of December 31, 2018, the ratio of HSEQ personnel (full-time equivalents) per 100 employees was 1.56 for the Group as a whole.
How we intend to reach our goals
The objective pursued by all of the measures we take is to further improve safety at the workplace. Our “Road to Zero” concept helps us to progressively reduce the frequency of work-related illnesses and accidents. In this context, we strive for an annual improvement rate of at least 10 percent relative to the most recent three-year average. In the past financial year, we were able to achieve this target.
In order to attain this objective in the future as well, we are taking a two-pronged approach: we adopt the appropriate technical and organizational measures and we address occupational safety wherever we can in a variety of communications tools in order to raise awareness of this topic. Thus, we highlight general aspects of safety at the workplace in a monthly “Safety Moments” bulletin sent to all employees.
In this regard, the involvement, accountability, and commitment that we expect from our managers, up to and including the members of the Executive Board, play a significant role. For example, our managers and Executive Board members are required to regularly conduct and document safety inspections (known as “Safety Walks”) throughout the Group, whereby the exact number depends on their respective sphere of responsibility. In the course of these inspections, they are to address potential risks and hazards and raise the employees’ awareness of occupational safety issues. It is possible to document the findings of these Safety Walks on mobile devices – i.e. during the inspection as such –, which are input directly into our central HSEQ software.
Another key element of our efforts to raise awareness of occupational safety matters is our SafetyWorks! program, along with the informational campaigns developed in this context. In 2019, we plan to launch a safety campaign on the proper use of permits under the motto “We Make Permits Work.”
Our Safety Award, which is presented annually, recognizes outstanding safety initiatives as well as innovative ideas for the continual improvement of our safety-related performance. This Group-wide award is intended to honor the contributions made by employees and executives while also encouraging future efforts to create safe working conditions and to protect the health of our entire workforce.