Employee safety is an integral part of an employer’s responsibility. Novartis Group companies are committed to providing our associates with safe workplaces.
Reducing incidents is a priority and there is a focus on continuously improving our control systems to prevent incidents and verify our operations are safe. When incidents occur, it is important to understand the causes, share the learnings and ensure corrective actions are implemented to prevent reoccurrence. Events which have the potential to cause a Serious Injury or Fatality (SIF) receive a special focus. There is a multi-phase program running since 2014 to identify this potential and implement targeted improvements in control and competency across the organization.
Good safety performance is linked to a supportive culture where associates are empowered to speak up and stop work if there is something wrong. A Safety Culture survey was conducted in 2017 to identify opportunities for improvements and additional support. Workshops have commenced across the organization to further emphasize accountability and the importance of safe behaviors.
Work-related injuries and illnesses are measured and reported as two distinct indicators:
Total recordable case rate (TRCR): the total rate of injury and illness cases with and without lost work time, per 200’000 working hours, for Novartis employees and Third Party Personnel.
Lost time injury and illness rate (LTIR): the rate of absenteeism cases due to occupational injury and illness, per 200’000 working hours, for Novartis employees and Third Party Personnel.
Our reporting systems since 2016 has also been tracking events with SIF potential to understand trends and potential gaps in our risk management processes. As a result of systematic improvements in processes and protective measures, these indicators are consistently below the average for similar industries. In 2017, the focus changed from Lost Time to incidents and near misses with the potential to cause a serious injury or fatality.
The safety of our drivers remains a high priority with the ongoing Driver Safety Program. The key focus areas are:
Restrict the use of two wheelers and transition towards four wheel vehicles where possible
Increase awareness on distracted driving as the main cause of the road accidents
Share Best Practice through the Global Driver Safety Network
Restrict the use of cell phones and electronic devices
Reinforce the ban on driving under influence of alcohol and drugs.
Contractor management has been identified as a critical element of our SIF prevention program. Many initiatives were launched in 2017 to ensure better engagement and governance. Examples include proposals to evaluate contractors based on their safety performance and stricter more harmonized criteria for their initial selection.
Handling biological materials is an integral and essential part of research, development and manufacturing programs at Novartis. Biological materials can include human or animal pathogens, and experimental or transgenic animals.
We take great care to ensure we prevent material misuse. Our biosafety program sets out standards, tools and practices for associates to manage potential risks when handling biological materials. Risk management and safety measures are stipulated in our guidelines on biosafety and in our detailed guidance notes. These standards are binding and based on best practice. We regularly assess compliance through audits at sites conducting biological activities.