Health and safety
A dedication to employee wellbeing
We are committed to providing a safe working environment for all our employees and contractors and have a Group goal of zero accidents.
We have a Group Health & Safety Policy that aims to apply the best international standards of practice relating to the health and safety of employees at work and non-company personnel on company premises and to give a high priority to these activities.
The Policy applies across all our activities. It requires our companies – as well as complying with all applicable laws and regulations – to commit to the prevention of employee injury and ill-health and strive for continual improvement in our health and safety management and performance. This is done through setting clear objectives, including the monitoring and measurement of key performance indicators.
Protecting the health and safety of our workforce
Providing a safe working environment for all our employees and contractors is paramount. As a global business, operating in diverse markets including some of the world’s most volatile regions, this can also be challenging.
Our goal is zero accidents across the Group. Our comprehensive approach is based on risk management from which we develop tailored initiatives for specific priorities and high-risk areas of the business. For example, in manufacturing, our accident prevention programme focuses on preventing injuries when using equipment or machinery, and 2020 saw a 27% reduction in total accidents from the previous year.
In Trade Marketing and Distribution (TM&D), there are higher risks of road traffic accidents or attacks and assaults. We have close to 30,000 vehicles and motorcycles out on the road every day, often in environments with difficult social or economic conditions. Our goods have a high street value, and in a small number of markets this carries a high risk of armed robbery and assaults. Poor road infrastructure and traffic management, as well as wide variations in driving standards and behaviour, provide further challenges. Our comprehensive driver safety and security programme enables us to monitor, analyse and improve driver behaviour, and build a safer work culture. We take specific measures appropriate to the local circumstances, such as using technology to improve vehicle safety, placing limits on the load carried, enhancing safety training and changing routes to avoid predictability. In high-risk locations, we constantly assess threats to ensure appropriate security protocols and escorts are in place.
We track safety performance across all our sites and a dedicated team regularly analyses the information to identify trends or high-risks areas that require coordinated cross-functional action. If a serious incident or fatality occurs, we liaise with the relevant authorities to assist their investigations, as well as reporting fatalities to the Board, which we are legally obliged to do. We always conduct rigorous internal investigations to determine the cause, identify lessons, and develop an action plan, so we can do all we can to prevent similar incidents from happening again. All investigation outcomes are reviewed by the Board, who also receive updates on action plan implementation.
Full details of our safety performance can be viewed in our 2020 ESG Report (14.1 mb) .
We aim to be among the leaders in occupational health management. We focus on identifying hazards, assessing risks to people’s health at work and introducing appropriate controls. We also have programmes around the world that protect and promote health and wellbeing for employees, their families and local communities. These include medical services and insurance, healthy lifestyle and fitness schemes and family-friendly policies and initiatives, such as flexible working and help with childcare.
Safety in tobacco growing
We are working with our contracted farmers to ensure 100% have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for agrochemical use and harvesting. Our Extension Services provide regular training and guidance in how to use, clean and care for it to ensure effectiveness. The training not only covers PPE, but also comprehensive health and safety best practice and preventative measures against green tobacco sickness (GTS), and this is supported by ongoing farmer communications. In addition, we provide training and awareness-raising for our contracted farmers on the correct and safe use, storage and disposal of agrochemicals to protect the environment and their health. These sessions cover our standards to ensure our contracted farmers use only approved agrochemicals with the lowest possible toxicity according to the World Health Organization classification.