The health and safety of our employees, contractors, customers and others affected by our activities is a top priority for ABB. We are committed to achieving excellence in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and are working to achieve this through both strategic, Group-led programs and businessspecific initiatives.
The engagement and participation of people at all levels of our organization is critical to achieving our OHS goal of zero incidents. However, the diversity of our operations in many different locations also presents significant challenges.
Although many processes and best practices have been put in place in recent years to improve OHS performance, and progress has been made, our performance in 2013 was not acceptable. Seven people – all of them contractors – died during the year and 69 people were seriously injured while working for ABB.
The contractor fatalities were a tragic reminder that our safety work is never done. We are reinforcing our efforts to strengthen training in particular business areas, improve monitoring of working conditions at customer sites and ensure appropriate levels of responsibility and accountability within the company. At the same time, we continue with the long-term development and continuous improvement of our existing programs.
Competence development and OHS behaviors
Requirements for health and safety competence are embedded in ABB’s OHS policy and procedures. The ABB OHS functional competency program underpins the policy, providing detailed definitions of the competency levels for all such jobs in ABB.
In 2013, we began an update of the OHS functional competency program – in line with a revised Group approach to competency development – to ensure the program continues to support ABB’s business needs and requirements. The site management functional competency model was also updated during the year, strengthening health and safety requirements.
To ensure consistency of approach to health and safety and to reinforce accountability within the company, we have developed an OHS behavior standard. These behaviors represent universal, not job-specific requirements. We started to roll out the standard in 2013, holding workshops in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates to train assessors on how to evaluate baseline behaviors.
Beginning in 2014, all ABB employees will be required to include a health and safety behavioral goal in their annual objectives. The aim is to further embed positive OHS behaviors at all levels and to ensure that formal discussions of these behaviors occur across the company.
Programs and tools to support our strategy
During 2013, we introduced hazard reporting as a leading indicator throughout the Group to supplement the existing near miss reporting. By reporting and investigating near misses and hazards we are better able to address the risks in our business, understand the related root causes and reduce the chances of more serious incidents.
Business-led OHS programs continued to focus on the particular needs and activities of the different business units (BUs). For example, the Medium Voltage Products BU undertook OHS-specific risks training, running workshops for a total of 90 employees in Russia, China and Thailand. Thomas & Betts continued their integration activities, starting a program to implement OHSAS 18001 management systems at all facilities and training OHS advisors on global incident reporting procedures.
Development of the OHS strategy, standards and competency program for ABB’s global Service organization progressed significantly during 2013, driven by a dedicated Group Service OHS Advisor. The Advisor is responsible for aligning Service OHS with ABB Group standards and coordinating activities throughout regional, country and BU service organizations.
In recognition of the value ABB’s service customers place on strong OHS performance, we again acknowledged OHS leadership with our internal Global Service Award for Safety.
The award-winning team created a learning zone on operational and service safety for service engineers in the United Arab Emirates. The learning zone is based on the findings of Service audits and accident investigations in various ABB business units, and consists of a practical training for service engineers and a standardized service safety kit.
At country level, OHS improvement programs are organized according to formal country OHS strategic plans prepared within our global priorities and framework. The country plans are tailored according to local conditions and business needs. Progress towards performance targets and implementation of training and development programs is monitored quarterly at Group level.
Launched in 2012, the Group occupational hygiene program continued to develop during 2013. Regional training workshops for North America, South America and Asia-Pacific helped to build competency in our network of OHS Advisors. The Occupational Doctors Team, comprising eight doctors from all regions, continued to support the network by identifying and communicating good practices and developing a process
or managing occupational diseases.