The global spread of the pandemic is having a devastating human toll all over the globe. At Bekaert, too, we were confronted with infections among personnel and with lives lost due to Covid-19 complications.
We deeply regret that six of our team members passed away with Covid-19 complications. Our thoughts and sympathy are with their family, friends and colleagues.
Bekaert has implemented global and local measures to safeguard the health and safety of all its people. Despite the rigorous measures implemented in all our premises worldwide, we have had an elevated infection rate in certain locations. In case of suspected or confirmed infections at a location, additional actions are implemented on top of the prevailing Covid-19 health & safety procedure. This may imply a temporary shutdown.
We are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to apply strict measures to keep our workforce safe.
To help minimize the spread of the virus and to maintain business continuity, Bekaert implemented mandatory Covid-19 Prevention Rules that are applicable throughout the company.
Bekaert created a framework based on the several phases of an epidemic to help define and simplify how to manage the situation in a consistent way across all of our operating entities around the world. The framework is structured per phase of the epidemic/pandemic and is in line with or stricter than the local government guidelines that apply.
Many of our plants and offices have been in ‘Phase 3: Ongoing epidemic’ for a long period. The rules for this phase imply that employees must work from home if their job allows. If not, they should disinfect their work station multiple times a day, avoid face-to-face meetings, ventilate the area they work in, and follow the specific rules regarding wearing face masks and ensuring hand hygiene.
Alongside the distribution and enforcement of face masks at the work place, Bekaert also provided 75 000 company-branded face masks to employees and their family members worldwide.
The Bekaert safety programs guide all employees toward the same safety mindset and behaviors worldwide.
It is our goal to create a no-harm-to-anyone working environment at Bekaert. We commit to do whatever is necessary to eliminate accidents in the workplace.
BeCare, the Bekaert global safety program, launched in 2016, is our way to do this. It focuses on creating an interdependent safety culture, promoting strong risk awareness, removing risk tolerance, and investing in the necessary tools and equipment to create a safer working environment.
BeCare has changed the behavior in our plants and offices and in our meetings with business partners.
As we had trained 93% of our employees through intensive BeCare training sessions as at the end of 2019, we planned to complete the process by the end of 2020. Although we started off well by kicking off the BeCare training sessions in our plants in Slovakia and Turkey in the beginning of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic left us no choice but to put our schedule on hold, preventing us from reaching our 2020 goal. We intend to continue the training sessions worldwide in the second half of 2021.
As part of the BeCare program, we introduced Felt Leadership in 2019 to all executive and plant leadership teams. Felt Leadership aims to increase the awareness for roles & responsibilities related to safety. During workshops, the leadership teams learn how to continuously demonstrate leadership and take accountability within their teams. Our plan was to further deploy Felt Leadership in Health & Safety to all supervisors and foremen worldwide in 2020, but this will be rescheduled to the second half of 2021 due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bekaert has developed several safety procedures and standards that are applicable in all our plants worldwide. They aim for a coherent and standardized approach of processes and actions worldwide.
At Bekaert, we believe all incidents and injuries are preventable. In line with our BeCare safety program, and to put more emphasis on safety in specific situations, our employees must follow the Life Saving Rules. The rules are simple dos and don’ts in 10 hazardous situations that have the highest potential to cause death. They apply to everyone: employees, contractors and visitors. Moreover, they are not only applicable at the workplace, but also highly recommended at home and in other situations, in particular on the road.
Abiding by these rules is a condition of employment at and access to our sites. Following these rules and helping others to do so will save lives. That is why consequence management applies to those who do not follow the Life Saving Rules.
The Life Saving Rules were implemented in all our locations in the course of 2019, and this is reflected in the safety numbers of 2020. There is a significant decrease in the number of incidents that might result in a potential fatality in a context of high-risk related activities. That is exactly where the Life Saving Rules focus on. The rate dropped by 37% in 2020, compared with last year.
(GRI 403-2 GRI 403-7)
Three of the Life Saving Rules relate to tasks for which a Permit to Work is mandatory. A Permit to Work is an on-the-job document that authorizes specified people to carry out non-routine hazardous work that is not described in a standard operating procedure. We have a group-wide standard procedure Permit to Work that all plants need to follow. Examples of activities that require a Permit to Work are among others working at height, working in a confined space, and energized electrical work.
Apart from the behavioral component, we realize that equipment safety is also key in our efforts to improve our safety performance. To meet this need, we have an equipment safety standard in place that describes the requirements to which all new and existing equipment should comply. Our Engineering departments start their design process from this standard when they develop a new machine. Existing machinery is evaluated on its safety-related risks via a risk assessment method. The method prioritizes the risks that could have the most severe impact and are most likely to happen.
(GRI 403-2 )
In addition to the BeCare initiatives aimed at eliminating safety risks, we also want to create and maintain a healthy workplace for our employees.
We monitor workplace conditions such as noise, dust and temperature, and are defining and implementing a roadmap to make further improvements. Our new investments take into account strict standards with regards to all working conditions.
All employees and subcontractors working in the Bekaert plants worldwide wear the safety and health equipment provided to avoid the risks of injuries and health impact. This includes uniforms, dust filters, eye and ear protection and grippers and hoists to lift and handle spools, coils, and pallets in an ergonomic way.
Bekaert will not purchase or renew the lease contract of diesel-powered forklifts and other internal trucks in the plants, unless there is no alternative, to eliminate the CO2 emissions.
Throughout the company, we pay special attention to the safe handling and storage of chemicals. A database records all chemicals used in our plants and strict health and safety guidelines apply to our employees. Employees who are exposed to potentially hazardous materials go through a medical check-up every six months. We are developing and optimizing techniques and processes that eliminate the need for hazardous chemicals during heat treatment processes.
Increasing regulatory complexity combined with a trend toward eco-friendlier resources and products, have triggered the design of a product stewardship framework and related capability building in 2020. The framework covers
In line with the ISO 14001 requirements, a company-wide process for lifecycle management has been developed. The process aims to identify potentially significant environmental impacts in the entire supply chain and considering all the stages of the lifecycle of our finished products and how to address them in an appropriate way.
At Bekaert, we closely monitor the EU REACH regulation to confirm compliance in a proactive way related both to the raw materials we are using and to our finished products. We are in contact with our suppliers to verify their REACH compliance in the supply process of raw materials and verify the related potential impacts of Brexit. Furthermore, we identify substances of concern and start proactive phase-out programs. In case we identify important regional differences in hazard classification and exposure limits, we are committed to applying our own company-specific hazard classification and exposure limits which are mandatory if no stricter regulations apply.
In September 2020, Bekaert organized its 13th International Health & Safety Week.
Hello, how are you? was the key topic of this year’s Health and Safety Week. Well-being is about feeling comfortable, healthy, and happy – in your personal life and at work. We created a Well-being framework to introduce the topic in the company. The framework explains that well-being is determined by four components. It’s a complex combination of feeling physically vital, being mentally resilient, having the ability to manage stress and emotions, and having a sense of purpose.
The CEO and members of the BGE explained the Well-being framework in a video, and gave personal examples to illustrate and clarify the four components. Our entities organized (digital) sessions for their teams using webinars and e-learnings. In locations where the Covid-19 situation allowed it, real-life sessions were organized.
In 2020, we made an impressive breakthrough in safety performance. The efforts and dedication to improve safety have been really successful. While every accident or life-altering risk that occurs on our premises is one too many, we are proud of the progress we have made with our teams.
(GRI 403-2 )
In 2020, the Total Recordable Incident Rate, the Lost-Time Incident Frequency Rate and the Serious Injury rate all decreased significantly, compared to 2019. A great achievement of our teams!
45% of the injuries that happen at Bekaert involve hands and fingers. Unfortunately and despite all safety measures, one of these incidents in 2020 was life-altering for one of our employees. The number decreased from nine life-altering incidents in 2019 to one in 2020. In safety procedures and during safety trainings, special attention is given to the prevention of hand and finger injuries. Other body parts that were injured were head and neck (16%), upper limbs (15%), lower limbs (8%), feet and toes (8%) and torso, back and organs (6%).
It goes without saying that we want no fatalities or accidents with life-altering injuries to occur, ever. We are proud to see the impact of the many safety trainings, awareness campaigns, safety standards and risk assessments on our safety results. We will continue our efforts in making Bekaert a safe place to work.
Bekaert holds a group-wide OHSAS certificate that covers 40% of the plants. In 2021, the OHSAS certificate will transition to ISO45001.
On average, each Bekaert employee received 8 hours of safety-related training in 2020.
(GRI 403-5 )
In 2020, the team in Inchalam, Chile, launched a campaign for all plant workers and administrative staff to encourage them to take care of their hands.
This campaign started by surprising the employees with a magic show that highlighted the versatility of the hands. The show made clear that without self-care, interdependence, hierarchy of controls and safe behavior at all times, we can lose our hands or fingers, without the possibility of recovering them. No magic trick can ever bring them back.
The campaign was applauded by our team members and by their children and other relatives who participated.
The team sealed their commitment by adding a colorful handprint on a large canvas. The canvas has been displayed at the entrance of the plant, in order to remind everyone that hands are irreplaceable.
Incident rates per region
|Group data per region||LTIFR(1) All (Bekaert payroll employees + contractors(*))
||LTIFR(1) Contractor||SI rate(2) All (Bekaert payroll employees + contractors)||SI rate(2) Bekaert||SI rate(2) Contractor||TRIR (3)All (Bekaert payroll employees + contractors)||TRIR(3) Bekaert||TRIR(3) Contractor|
|JVs in Brazil and Colombia||0.72||0.86||0.40||0.00||0.00||0.00||2.17||2.76||0.80|
(*)Contractor: employee of a supplier who performs predefined tasks on a regular base on our premises. This includes, but is not limited to, employees of cleaning services, security services, temporary-employment agencies (interim workers).
Incident rates per region
|Group data by gender (payroll employees)||Male
(1)LTIFR: Lost Time Incident Frequency Rate: number of lost time incidents per million worked hours.
(2)SI: real Serious Injuries per million worked hours.
(3)TRIR: Total Recordable Incident Rate: all recorded incidents per million worked hours.
Safety champions in consolidated plants
In 2020, 15 plants achieved 1 year without recordable safety incidents. 6 plants were 2 years incident-free. 4 plants achieved 3 years without recordable safety incidents and 2 plants even managed to keep their plant incident-free for 7 or more years.
Our team members in China were the first to be confronted with the virus challenges and with tight methods to contain the spread. Their learnings have been tremendously valuable for us. Their measures and best practices were integrated in Bekaert’s global Covid-19 Prevention Rules.
These measures, implemented early in China and adopted by our teams worldwide, included: