Occupational health and safety (GRI 403)
Management approach occupational health and safety
The occupational health and safety of employees are of major importance. Geberit wants to gradually get nearer to the target of having healthy employees within an accident-free company and has therefore established a high level of health and safety for its employees.
Geberit cooperates with authorities, trade unions and employers’ liability insurance associations on a country-specific basis. Most companies have written agreements with the trade unions. These normally cover topics such as personal protective equipment, complaints procedures, regular inspections, education and further training and the right to refuse unsafe work.
Using 2015 as the reference year, the company aims to halve the frequency and severity of accidents by 2025. The AFR (Accident Frequency Rate) is to be reduced to a rate of 5.5 occupational accidents (with absences of one day or more) per million working hours. The ASR (Accident Severity Rate) is to be reduced to below 90 days lost per million working hours. These key figures are reviewed regularly at the plant cockpits and are part of the annual appraisal of plant managers. The Group Executive Board is also provided with a compact report on a quarterly basis and a comprehensive report is created for the management at the end of the year.
For objectives and measures concerning occupational health and safety, see also Sustainability strategy.
Occupational health and safety management system (GRI 403-1) and its degree of coverage (GRI 403-8)
The topic of occupational health and safety falls under the remit of Sustainability and Process Management, which reports directly to the CEO. The responsibility for implementation lies with each company. All production plants and central logistics have a trained safety manager. The sites Rapperswil-Jona (CH) and Pfullendorf (DE) also have an appointed health manager. The Group-wide Geberit Safety Team also plays an active role in developing occupational health and safety systematically throughout the entire organisation. It does so by defining key topics and exchanging best practices between plants, among other aspects. In the reporting year, the team developed concepts for applicable Group-wide safety standards and for safety audits across plants and carried out two pilot audits. The new safety standards aim to increase the level of safety in the production plants and in logistics and will be rolled out in 2023. Moreover, further safety audits across plants are to be carried out.
The Geberit Safety System – which is valid in all production plants, in central logistics as well as in the management company incorporating all Group functions at headquarters in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) – defines processes that are applicable throughout the Group for promoting the continuous improvement of work processes and workplaces. Special attention is also paid to elements of changes in behaviour, as the majority of occupational accidents and time lost are still attributable to carelessness. Generally valid principles on occupational health and safety as well as prevention are part of the Geberit Code of Conduct and apply to all employees.
Apart from the new plant in Stryków (PL), which started operations in 2022 and will be audited for the first time in 2023, all production plants and the central logistics centre in Pfullendorf (DE) – and thus 99.8% of the production workers – are certified in accordance with the occupational health and safety standard ISO 45001.
For further details, see Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2022 > Employees.
Risk assessment and investigation of accidents (GRI 403-2)
The risk assessment of workplaces and the systematic investigation of accidents are a central part of the Geberit Safety System and are standardised across the Group. The execution of the risk assessment takes place systematically for all relevant workplaces and is based on a standard method and evaluation matrix.
Every accident is reported, regardless of the employment relationship and severity. A standardised accident investigation also takes place for all accidents which result in the employee being absent for one working day and more. Based on these reports, effective measures are derived to eliminate deficits permanently and to avoid similar accidents happening again within the company. Where appropriate, the insights gained will be shared with other companies to avoid similar accidents in the Group. Launched in 2017, the software-based solution for capturing and systematically analysing accident data is a sound, comprehensive process that is integrated in the SAP environment and has been rolled out at 23 production plants.
Occupational health services (GRI 403-3)
Geberit takes various steps in order to avoid health risks at the workplace. At several production sites, legal requirements require a company physician to be on hand. Depending on the risk classification of the particular activity, various measures are implemented for health provision. For example, occupational medical examinations (including auscultation of the lung, lung checks and X-rays) are regularly carried out in the ceramics plants due to the presence of quartz dust. Noise pollution and ergonomics are further focal points of the company physicians and external specialists.
Employee participation and communication on occupational health and safety (GRI 403-4)
93.5% of all employees worldwide are represented through an occupational health and safety panel or safety committee at their site, in which employer and employee representatives can discuss occupational health and safety issues. The occupational health and safety panels are created on behalf of the management and involve all levels of the organisation as well as various specialist roles and areas (including company physicians, works council, occupational safety specialists, representatives of occupational health and safety unions). In addition, employees are involved in relevant processes of the Geberit Safety System, such as the risk assessment of workplaces, the accident investigation or as part of behavioural inspections. The Group-wide Geberit Safety Team – a team of experts from all production areas – also plays an active role in developing occupational health and safety.
Training on occupational health and safety (GRI 403-5)
Training sessions on occupational health and safety take place regularly in most Geberit companies. At Welcome events, new employees are given information about the valid, local health and safety regulations and internal directives. At production and logistics sites, supervisors also hold workplace-specific training sessions on work-related hazards.
Geberit continues to use an eLearning programme aimed at employees in production and logistics which should, among other things, help to correctly identify danger areas in the workplace and rectify them consistently. This was translated into further languages in the reporting year and is due to be rolled out in other countries and at other sites in 2023.
Promotion of employee health (GRI 403-6)
Across the Group, Geberit carries out a wide range of activities and sets up programmes to promote employees’ health and well-being, and also offers its employees precautionary healthcare opportunities through various offers and activities. These include, for example, sports facilities, anti-smoking seminars, health check-ups, massage services, dietary and health tips, presentations on health-related issues and workshops on targeted and correct relaxation. A diverse vitality programme is offered at 18 production and sales sites in the fields of exercise, mental fitness, nutrition and the working environment. The most comprehensive programme “Geberit Vital” is available at six sites and can be accessed by around 40% of the workforce.
Among others, there is a focus on the ergonomic organisation of the workplace, particularly in the ceramics plants. In the reporting year, conventional plaster casting systems were replaced with modern high-pressure casting systems in Koło and Włocławek (both PL) and a first glazing robot was commissioned in Carregado (PT). This improves the ergonomics at the respective workplaces.
Further focal points are training courses for managerial staff in health-conscious management as well as reintegration counselling, with the aim of getting people back to work as soon as possible after a long-term absence due to illness. Examples of individual support include counselling in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) to assist with problems ranging from on-the-job pressure, partnership and family problems to debt issues, and the telephone helpline created in the USA to discuss problems at work in complete confidentiality. Geberit also promotes fitness in the community with its support of the Geberit sports club, for example. This club features eleven different sports sections and has around 620 members in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) who regularly meet up and exercise together.
Avoiding and minimising danger for business partners (GRI 403-7)
Geberit sets great store by the occupational health and safety of business partners. For example, contractors who carry out work on the factory premises receive a safety briefing and are obliged to observe these rules. In the corresponding Code of Conduct, suppliers also undertake to ensure occupational safety and health-promoting working conditions in their company and supply chain. This is systematically examined as part of supplier audits, see also Procurement.
In terms of customers, Geberit takes great care – including as part of the eco-design workshops – to ensure that all products are ergonomic and safe during installation and their final use. The assembly of Geberit products is easy and often tool-free. If special tools are needed, these have been optimised in terms of their ergonomics and safety, and their correct handling is trained accordingly. With the Geberit FlowFit supply system, Geberit has gone one step further. The system was developed together with plumbers to make the installation process simpler, safer and more ergonomic. In the process, Geberit has succeeded in developing a pressing technology that makes it possible to fit the drinking water system of a multifamily house without the need for a tool changeover.
Accidents and days lost (GRI 403-9)
The manufacture of sanitary products can generally be said to have a low level of risks at the workplace. Nevertheless, there are still some individual activities which entail an increased risk of accidents. Typical workplace risks are the lifting and carrying of heavy loads, working at heights and in noisy environments, as well as handling hot surfaces and hazardous substances. As part of the Geberit Safety System, the workplace risks are assessed systematically and appropriate measures implemented to protect the employees.
Geberit is consistently pursuing the creation of safe and clean workstations at the production plants. This is carried out, for example, by optimising and modernising the systems and processes (e.g. an appliance for deburring sharp sheet edges when manufacturing installation modules), the replacement of hazardous substances (e.g. substitution of the pickling process in the manufacture of metal fittings) and the reduction of dust and noise emissions (e.g. by using more efficient extraction devices and filters in ceramic production). Workstations are also being further optimised from an ergonomic point of view through the increasing use of robots or lifting aids.
Thanks to standardised reporting on occupational health and safety, it is ensured that the efforts made achieve their desired effect and that corrective measures can be initiated at an early stage. In the reporting year, a total of 157 accidents were recorded (previous year 160 accidents), equivalent to 3,034 lost working days due to occupational accidents (previous year 3,089 lost working days). The statistics show only those occupational accidents that occur during working hours or business travel and lead to lost working time of one working day or more. The most frequent injuries are cuts and stab wounds on hands and bruising to the body. In the reporting year, the accident frequency rose to a value of 8.2 (previous year 7.9), which corresponds to an increase of 3.8%. The accident severity increased by 3.1% to a value of 157.5 (previous year 152.8) in the same period. Since 2015, the AFR has fallen by 28.1% and the ASR by 23.6%. In the reporting year, there were two severe accidents and no fatal accidents. Furthermore, the Group-wide absenteeism rate due to accidents and absences due to illness based on regular working hours was 5.46% (previous year 4.71%). Illness-related absences accounted for 98.2% of this rate (previous year 97.9%).
Further key figures can be found under Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.
Work-related illness (GRI 403-10)
There are certain operational activities at Geberit, particularly in ceramic production, involving an increased risk of work-related illness (silicosis/dust disease). The risks lie primarily in slip and glaze preparation, casting and glazing as well as in the processing of unfired and fired ceramic parts. Geberit has specified a standard threshold for dust emissions, which is lower than the legally prescribed levels at various sites. Dust measurements are taken in the plants on a regular basis with a uniform measurement and evaluation procedure. The results of the site-specific measurements are used as the basis for local corrective measures. The topic is also systematically addressed as part of the Geberit Safety System and certification according to ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety). Furthermore, Geberit participates in the NEPSI programme (The European Network on Silica) as a member of FECS, a suborganisation of Cerame-Unie (European Ceramic Industry Association). This includes monitoring the exposure of employees to quartz dust and the implementation of best practices.
Around 50% of employees in ceramic production are regularly exposed to increased levels of quartz dust. Technical, organisational and personal protection measures are implemented for the protection of these employees. In the area of personal protective equipment, as well as in hygiene and cleaning, minimum standards were defined and implemented. Geberit makes substantial efforts towards either avoiding the exposure of employees to these risks (e.g. through the installation of glazing robots) or minimising this exposure (e.g. through the use of special extraction devices and filters, dust masks or the provision of training in correct behaviour at the workplace). Furthermore, the employees regularly undergo occupational medical examinations (including auscultation of the lung, lung checks and X-rays).
Further key figures can be found under Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.