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A journey to better health and safety

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Cement,

The cement industry is a fascinating space. Our solutions contribute to infrastructure and buildings everywhere in the world. They connect people, provide them with shelter, and turn bold architectural visions into reality. Our solutions are positively impacting the lives of billions of people.

Our journey to better results

The production of cement can sometimes be a dangerous business. We handle high temperatures, high altitudes, and heavy loads. The whole industry – including LafargeHolcim – constantly tries to improve when it comes to one specific subject: the health and safety (H&S) of the people who work for us at our cement plants, in our quarries, or on the road delivering products to our customers.

The health and safety of our employees is a core value for LafargeHolcim. It has been for a long time, but still our results were questionable and there was an urgent need to act and reverse this intolerable development. With our Strategy 2022 − ‘Building for Growth’, we are turning LafargeHolcim into a blue-chip company in all aspects of the business. Not harming people is central, so we have a very clear objective: to achieve a zero harm culture and zero fatalities. Our ‘Ambition 0’ strategy focuses on six areas: safety onsite, zero harm culture, systems and processes, road safety, health, and contractor partnership.

We have made significant progress in 2018 towards our ambition. The results show that our new strategy, combined with years of dedication and hard work, is starting to have an impact on our H&S performance. Over the past two years we were able to more than halve the number of fatalities. In addition, we have also reached an improvement in our injury rate of almost 25%. Let’s be clear: this is still not good enough for us and we deeply regret each fatality. Zero is the only number we can accept. We cannot tolerate that people lose their lives while working for us. But we are proud of this achievement thanks to the hard work of our colleagues in the countries.

The new ‘Ambition 0’ strategy was launched in early 2017 and was reinforced by Strategy 2022. With that, we bridged the gap between the good systems we had and our workers on the ground. We now have the power and resources to take the extra step: as with other areas of the business, we have removed one layer of regional management, so that we, as a strengthened central team, communicate directly with the countries. Our approach is ‘One Team, One Programme’. We have also established targets of zero harm culture and zero fatalities. To work towards this objective, we have involved more than 60 country CEOs and more than 200 senior managers across the group in its development.

As part of this, we have implemented standardised global programmes in every country in which we operate. In 2018, we launched 17 revamped H&S standards and conducted an organisational transformation to establish a leaner and more horizontal H&S structure, focused on implementation at country level. H&S is also thoroughly embedded in the group’s performance management system and is an important part of senior management remuneration.

Employee engagement

Clear and concise standards are one thing, but promoting H&S through engagement and communication campaigns is what is bringing it to life. In 2018, the theme of our Global H&S Days was: I improve H&S every day at my workplace. Employees were asked to look at incidents that could happen or have already occurred at their workplace, and describe how to ensure they did not happen again. The purpose was to cascade our key lessons down to all levels of the workforce. Three best practice challenges were successfully rolled out in 2018: with almost 2000 entries, 140 000 votes, and more than 15 000 participants, these demonstrated a great commitment from employees at all levels of the organisation.

Our progress shows that when you have management support, a great team behind you and the right strategic framework, making change a reality is possible. I am extremely proud of what we have delivered. It is a motivation to go further and continue aiming for ‘Ambition 0’. I am hoping that our development will encourage the entire industry to work harder and more successfully to improve our H&S performance across the entire cement sector.

About the author

Magali Anderson is Group Head of Health and Safety at LafargeHolcim.

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LafargeHolcim news Cement news 2018