Occupational health & safety
Target 2030: Zero harm is caused to our people and contractors; we aim for a yearly reduction in lost-time incidents
Safety is the foremost standard by which we measure ABB’s performance. Our long-term success, reputation and standing as the best partner for our customers and other stakeholders depend on our ability to ensure the safety of our people.
We achieved our safety target in 2022. Our lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) of 0.14 was down from the 0.25 we recorded as a baseline in 2019. LTIFR is defined as work-related injuries that result in at least one day away from work per 200,000 hours worked (equivalent to 100 full-time employees per year).
In 2022, ABB recorded zero workplace-related employee fatalities and zero workplace-related contractor fatalities, with the caveat that every safety incident has the potential to result in a fatality. Over the past decade, ABB has built a robust safety culture, and we are proud of the downward trend in the total number of serious incidents we have experienced since 2014. However, we refuse to become complacent about our strong safety record. Instead, we diligently seek to ensure that all hazards and incidents are reported and investigated and that we learn from them and avoid similar incidents in the future.
Under ABB’s decentralized business model, our business areas and divisions are encouraged to design and implement their own safety programs. As a result, their programs vary widely, adopting strategies customized to the specific risks faced by each division, service product group or industry. Over the years, their safety programs have proved to be highly effective at reducing or eliminating conditions that can lead to incidents. For example, ABB Electrification’s Global Electrical Safety team identifies common electrical hazards across ABB and develops actions to address the risks and opportunities they pose. The team is also responsible for sharing and promoting lessons learned and best practices across ABB, as well as for developing and implementing new training courses to address ABB’s changing business portfolio, such as our increased focus on electrical vehicle charging and our growing reliance on lithium battery systems. ABB Electrification also initiated and ran its own pilot program in 2022 to test out Proxxi, a special voltage-detecting wristband; field service engineers using this device in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Spain will report back on its effectiveness.
ABB’s safety-first approach is exemplified by the construction and commissioning of ABB Robotics’ new factory in Shanghai (China). During construction, we required the landlord, construction contractors and ABB personnel to acknowledge safety as the highest priority; this consideration dominated each stage of the facility’s construction. To help local workers follow ABB’s safety requirements and standards at all times, we employed safety experts on site full-time. On a daily basis, we evaluated and then mitigated the risks posed by people, procedures, equipment, tools and activities. We also made sure that the landlord, construction firm, its subcontractors and ABB’s safety experts conducted daily safety inspections and Sustainability Observation Tours (SOTs). This granular approach to safety continued after the factory commenced operations in September 2022. As of November 2022, we had zero lost-time incidents and have identified 493 hazards, 99.5 percent of which have been resolved. In addition, 81 SOTs have now been undertaken at the factory by managers.
Supporting the overall health and well-being of our employees is a priority at ABB, and we dedicate much time and effort to providing them with a broad spectrum of resources. Mental illness affects one in four people globally, a situation that was exacerbated by the pandemic. Our businesses have responded with a wide range of initiatives. For example, in 2022, ABB Motion continued to run its “Are you ok?” mental health training program, which it first launched at the end of 2021. The program, composed of a series of training modules for staff and managers, was made available both online and in person in nine languages. In addition, to celebrate World Mental Health Day in October 2022, ABB Motion held an “Are you ok?” week. The week was packed with training sessions delivered in multiple languages, and employees shared their personal stories via social media posts. Since the launch of “Are you ok?,” 2,300 employees – roughly 10 percent of ABB Motion’s global workforce – have completed its training programs.
At the same time, we continue to strengthen the overall governance of ABB’s safety activities by means of regular council meetings and steering committees. These ensure proper corporate monitoring of corrective actions and lessons learned. With this critical input, ABB’s corporate leadership and its business areas can identify, align and collaborate on company-wide improvement programs.
Among our cross-Group security initiatives, we run a robust travel risk management program that prepares travelers for their trips, oversees their security in high-risk areas, monitors 24/7 any changes in the risk landscape, and offers support for security and medical emergencies while traveling. Our partner International SOS plays an important role in exercising our duty of care for our employees and contractors.
Our safety teams were active throughout ABB in 2022, coordinating preparations for and responses to emergency situations, conducting internal safety inspections, obtaining third-party verifications for our health, safety and well-being reporting, and developing procedures to investigate work-related injuries and incidents. In addition, our safety teams provided occupational health and safety (OHS) trainings to employees to raise awareness and reduce operational health and safety incidents; and they introduced OHS criteria to ABB’s procurement processes and contracts.