Committed to excellence

Occupational health and safety (photo)

Everybody in ABB is committed to maintaining a positive and effective occupational health and safety (OHS) culture where we understand and are constantly aware of the potential health and safety risks within our operations. It is a culture where people at every level of the organization deliver on their individual responsibilities, strive to achieve excellence in risk management, and lead and support safe working throughout our businesses and regions.

The engagement and participation of all of our people in managing health and safety are central to ABB’s strategic plans for OHS. However, the diversity of our operations and the cultures within which we operate also means this is challenging.

Our many business-specific and combined activities, driven through Group, regional, country and business OHS plans, took ABB to a significant milestone in our OHS journey in 2011 when no employee or contractor fatalities occurred. However, the number of serious injuries increased which means we still have considerable work to do. As ABB continues to grow and explore new opportunities, we will remain focused on our improvement programs to address the fundamentals of safety leadership and behavior.

We have also maintained a strong focus on building competence and capacity for the effective leadership and management of OHS, setting and improving standards for risk control and monitoring our facilities and operations. At Group level we worked to extend the reach of our Leadership Training program, providing the knowledge and skills essential for effective personal OHS leadership. It also drives active local improvement across our businesses.

One consequence of effective OHS leadership has been the increasing number of business-led OHS programs. These initiatives foster the development of standards and deliver specialized training consistent with the particular needs and activities of the different business units (BUs).

During 2011, existing OHS programs such as the BU Substations’ “Energizing Safety” and initiatives in the BU Transformers, the medium- and high-voltage businesses and the Service business were strengthened and extended. Additional programs were developed in the Process Automation division.

To maintain and build the skills of the advisory networks that support our businesses, we enhanced our functional competency assessment process and supporting OHS training programs.

Significant milestones

Significant milestones were achieved and programs implemented across the ABB world during 2011:

US distinctions

As an example of the knowledge and experience within our network, we have been proud to support Darryl C. Hill, ABB’s Vice President Safety and Health, North America, in his duties as President of the American Society of Safety Engineers during its centennial year. Darryl continues to work tirelessly not only to support ABB but also to share skills and experience within a wider community.

Also in the US, Medium Voltage and High Voltage Service did not have a single Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable injury for the fifth consecutive year. This is an exceptional achievement, considering all services are carried out under field conditions.

Managers Assistance Program in Australia brings results

ABB in Australia has developed a program of education and support in safety leadership, change management and progressive compliance, called the “Managers Assistance Program.” The program is designed to implement existing systems progressively and to change worker behavior by giving managers clear actions and goals on a month-by-month basis. All actions and deadlines are closely monitored, addressing leadership activities and behavioral improvements in managers and supervisors, as well as compliance. The results have been excellent, with ABB Australia achieving its best safety performance on record. This program of supported change can work in each ABB country, and on a larger scale, and supports all current systems and programs.

Kevlar “Wrap & Strap” safety device improves substation safety

Employee teams at ABB in the US have developed an innovative way to mitigate the hazard of moving and working near pressurized porcelain insulators used at substations. Kevlar insulator covers have been designed to protect against explosion, which can happen when an insulator with a defect or crack is moved or pressurized. The covers were tested and improved under controlled conditions and are now available for sale to customers.

A systematic approach to UK occupational road safety

To promote the integration of occupational road risk into the day-to-day consideration of their employees, ABB in the UK developed the Road Ahead program. The program has brought together 10 key habits in a systematic approach, with the aim to ensure all personnel driving on company business drive a safe vehicle and are aware of the dangers associated with road travel.

South America – safety awards

ABB in Colombia established an OHS and environment contest to promote a safety and environment culture. Employees are nominated by their peers for the “Eco Safe Hero” award for outstanding contributions. The award scheme has now been adopted in all countries in South America and at the end of 2012 an additional award will be made to the overall winner within the region.

Middle East, India and Africa – raising awareness

Health and safety was the focus of one of our biggest community efforts in 2011. More than 5,000 ABB employees and subcontractors – as well as family members – took part in a week of activities in the Gulf states, India and some parts of Africa to promote greater health and safety awareness and performance in the workplace, at home and on the roads. ABB won the Middle East Electricity Corporate Social Responsibility Award of the Year for our work on continually improving health and safety standards.

As we move into 2012, we commence the next phase of our OHS journey. We have defined a new aspirational vision, moving away from “Stop hurting people” to “Committed to achieving OHS excellence.”

Our future strategies are founded upon empowering the many competent people across our organization, encouraging greater autonomy and ownership within businesses, recognizing individual programs and avoiding a “one size fits all” approach, while maintaining clear standards for control and behavior. With everyone’s participation we will continue in our quest for excellence and ever-improving OHS performance.

Occupational health and safety performance: GRI indicators

LA6 Percentage of total workforce represented in health and safety committees

Health and safety consultation is an integral part of ABB’s commitment to introduce into all businesses occupational health and safety management systems based on OHSAS 18001 and the International Labor Organization (ILO) guidelines. The form of health and safety consultation with employees varies according to local requirements, and includes health and safety committees and employee forums.

At Group level, ABB has a standing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committee chaired by an Executive Committee member whose mandate covers all employees.

LA7 Injuries, lost days, diseases and fatalities








Employee work-related fatalities




Incident rate




Employee work-related serious injuries




Incident rate




Employee business travel fatalities




Incident rate




Employee business travel serious injuries




Incident rate




Contractor work-related fatalities




Contractor work-related serious injuries




Contractor business travel fatalities




Members of the public fatalities




Employee lost days due to industrial incidents




Employee occupational health diseases




Employee total recordable incident rate




In these statistics, figures for fatalities also include deaths occurring within one year as a result of injuries sustained. Incident rates are according to the ILO rate per 1,000 employees. Total recordable incident rate includes the following incidents: serious injuries, lost time incidents, medical treatment injuries, occupational health diseases and restricted work day cases. “Lost days” are calendar days, and are counted from the day after the incident. Business travel incidents include injuries related to road travel. Incidents during air travel, on business trips, are excluded.

LA8 Programs in place regarding serious diseases

ABB has developed a Group-wide occupational health strategy to ensure the robust and active management of occupational hygiene issues, such as exposure to hazardous substances, occupational carcinogens, physical agents, musculo-skeletal disorders, noise and vibration. The strategy will be rolled out during 2012, and will include training programs to assist effective management and monitoring at country and site level. The strategy is led by a global Occupational Health Team consisting of occupational health physicians and OHS professionals who will also provide support and guidance for local programs.

In three countries (Brazil, Philippines and South Africa) ABB has specific programs in place to address HIV/Aids.

At Group level, ABB has a program in place to deal with pandemic diseases, involving the development of pandemic plans for all countries, which are an element of a country’s overall crisis response plans. The key reference used by ABB is the World Health Organization.

Additionally, all ABB travelers receive destination-specific security and health advice prior to travel. The health advice includes medical preparedness, medical screening where needed and advice on particular health risks at their destination.

LA9 Health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with trade unions

This information is not recorded by the Group, but local legislation requires formal agreements in some countries such as Germany and South Africa. Group health and safety performance is reported annually by the head of Group Function Sustainability Affairs at a meeting with the European Works Council.

© Copyright 2012 ABB.