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Achieving Zero Harm On The Road – part one

World Cement,

Every day, more than 3000 people around the world lose their lives due to road crashes. It’s the equivalent of ten jumbo jets crashing daily — and yet this figure goes relatively unnoticed, leaving road users exposed to high levels of risk.

Linking the UN resolution on road safety to business commitments

On 11 May 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed 2011 – 20201 as the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in a landmark resolution co-sponsored by 100 countries. Acknowledging that global road death and injury is a “major public health problem with a broad range of social and economic consequences which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress towards the Millennium Development Goals”, the Decade of Action has the official goal of ‘stabilising and then reducing’ global road traffic fatalities by 2020.

Despite global efforts to address the problem, road crashes continue to represent a major public health crisis in both social and economic terms. Close to 1.3 million people are killed each year, taking an immeasurable toll on families and communities. Up to 50 million people suffer serious, life-altering injuries that, in many low and middle-income countries, directly contribute to the poverty cycle. Estimates indicate that around 30% of all road crashes are work related, and businesses are becoming more aware of the associated social and economic impacts.

As responsible corporate citizens, businesses are making continuous efforts on different fronts to achieve a zero harm work environment with a culture based on teamwork and safety. All workers have the right to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled and managed. While companies pay great attention to respecting this right, these alarming statistics about road incidents highlight a component of safety with huge potential for improvement, which would bring significant benefits to workers and society.

Road safety for cement companies

Driving-related incidents have always been a major cause of fatalities for cement companies. Ever since its first Agenda for Action in 20023, the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) has been working tirelessly with its members to eliminate driving-related fatalities and injuries within and beyond the cement industry.

In 2014, almost 60% of fatalities recorded by CSI members involved moving vehicles, of which only 26% of the accidents occur onsite (manufacturer or customer), with the remaining 74% occurring off-site on the road during transportation. In the cement sector, as with many other sectors (e.g. forestry, oil and gas, chemicals), logistics are a massive and essential part of company operations, involving direct employees, contractors and other road users (third parties). In most countries, cement operators rely heavily on road transport for conveying raw materials, fuels and products from quarries to operations and customer sites.

The statistics are shocking, the challenge is global and the case for action is compelling. While solutions do exist, multiple coordinated measures are required to reduce road injuries and fatalities; just as many factors contribute to the problem. Mr Philippe Fonta, Managing Director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)’s CSI shared: “Whilst CSI members are committed to achieve zero harm for their workforce, contractors and communities, eliminating risk on the roads requires a united, concerted effort on the part of businesses, civil societies and governments.”

Working on its own and as a group

All companies already have their own safety management programme in place. With a headline objective to ensure the cement industry can work together to achieve the highest standard of industrial safety globally in all operations under the control of companies, the CSI has a long-standing task force dedicated to addressing safety and health issues in the sector. The journey started with an initial focus on setting up common performance indicators and measurement methodologies so that companies could have a common guidance for monitoring accidents, including fatalities evolution over time. As a result, CSI members track and report common metrics on employee safety. Companies have gradually reduced the number of accidents and injuries among employees, but have had less success in reducing overall fatalities, particularly among drivers and contractors. Following a root cause analysis of fatalities, the CSI developed detailed recommendations reflecting good practices in these two critical areas. Available online4, these guidelines are accessible to any cement company, being a member of the CSI or not.

The CSI provides an ideal platform for a shared understanding of sustainability issues, with safety being one topic of utmost importance. Members can share openly within a trusted, antitrust-compliant structure, not only about good practices, but also about near-missed cases and even failures, where sometimes the more crucial lesson lies. Knowledge sharing is not limited to experts in the task forces, CEOs of CSI member companies are leading by example by having a discussion entitled ‘CEO Safety Moment’, dedicated to safety management issues, at each of their annual meetings. This is clear and repeated testimony of safety by leadership and companies’ determination to drive change from within the top levels of management.

Joining hands with partners to scale up impact

All cement companies (CSI member or not) are interested in ensuring the safety of their employees, contractors and the third parties with whom they interact. All CSI materials comply with applicable laws and are made freely available to the rest of the cement industry to support global improvements. With the goal to engage more than just CSI members and potentially to extend beyond the cement industry, the CSI has created eight local initiatives in Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand, addressing safety management in a local context, focusing primarily on road safety.



2. World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Observatory (GHO) data (



This is part one of a two-part article written by Yvonne Leung for World Cement’s September 2015 issue and abridged for the website. Subscribers can read the full issue by signing in, and can also catch up on-the-go via our new app for Apple and Android. Check back tomorrow for part two of the article on

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