As a global healthcare company, Merck strives to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

We are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of our employees around the world and to complying fully with all applicable country and local safety laws and regulations. We strive to eliminate work-related injuries, illnesses and unplanned events from our global operations through comprehensive safety programs that are part of an overall Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) management system. The design of our facilities and processes, as well as our process controls, protection systems and emergency response capabilities, is a critical component of our overall effort to minimize the frequency and severity of safety and environmental incidents.

For consistency across the company, and to enable us to compare our performance with that of other multinational companies, we use the U.S.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injury and illness record-keeping criteria. Globally, we require that all recordable injuries, illnesses and incidents involving our employees be reported and investigated to determine their cause. We also require actions to be taken to prevent recurrence. We consolidate our injury and illness data into a central system to analyze trends and determine appropriate responses. We also take steps—through internal safety alerts and bulletins—to communicate significant incidents, near-miss events, and conditions that could represent risks at other Merck operations and sites. To promote a strong safety culture, our manufacturing and research sites have active safety committees that implement awareness initiatives and address safety issues together with employees.

Click here for EHS governance, roles and responsibilities.

Select the Programs tab on this page for Employee Safety Programs.

Select the Performance tab on this page for our 2012 safety performance.


Our employee safety programs and recent program initiatives are described in the following paragraphs.

Our safety performance indicators, a discussion of performance trends, and our safety targets are available on the Performance tab above.

Motor Vehicle Safety

The goal of our Motor Vehicle Safety program is to reduce both the frequency and the severity of motor vehicle collisions globally, regardless of fault. As we do so, we anticipate a commensurate reduction in the injuries associated with those collisions, both for employees and for those members of the public with whom they share the road.

Implementation of global motor vehicle safety standards in all markets remains an area of focus for the company. In certain markets, Merck field-based sales employees operate two-wheeled vehicles that represent an increased risk of injury from vehicle collisions. In 2012, we introduced a comprehensive employee safety plan for the use of two-wheelers in select high-risk markets such as India, Vietnam and Thailand. The plan focuses on employee awareness and training, includes rules of operation, and mandates use of personal protective equipment.

Select the Performance tab on this page for a discussion of our 2012 motor vehicle safety performance.


Ergonomics-related injuries and illnesses account for more than 20 percent of our global recordable injury rate. Our continued focus is on risk assessment and control, training, communication, and employee participation, to reduce the frequency and severity of ergonomics-related events. Our priority business areas are the manufacturing, research and sales environments where most ergonomic injuries and illnesses are related to manual material handling and repetitive motion. New staff resources will lead a global strategy to improve productivity while mitigating ergonomic risks and reducing injury rates.

Select the Performance tab on this page for a discussion of our 2012 safety performance.

Process Safety

Our process safety management (PSM) program identifies and addresses risks associated with our pharmaceutical, biological therapy, and vaccine production operations. This program applies not only to operations subject to process-safety regulations, but to all of our pilot plants and pharmaceutical, biological therapy and vaccine manufacturing operations worldwide. Early in product development, we begin testing our processes, products and intermediate materials to identify potential process-safety hazards. This testing effort continues throughout the product life cycle to assure that, at all stages, we keep safety at the forefront.

The PSM program drives the identification, evaluation and control of process-safety risks. Global PSM professionals work with operational and engineering personnel using structured techniques, such as hazard and operability studies, to review our operations. These reviews ensure that the facility, equipment, and operating controls and procedures effectively address the particular process hazards.

Industrial Hygiene

Our industrial hygiene (IH) program protects the health of our employees throughout all stages of research and manufacturing by identifying chemical, physical and biological hazards, and assessing and properly controlling exposures.

To protect the health of our employees we apply a hierarchy of control measures that starts with seeking to eliminate or find a substitute for the hazardous material or process. When this is not possible, we evaluate the feasibility of engineering controls such as containment controls or specific exhaust ventilation controls. Where engineering controls aren’t feasible, we establish either work practice controls or the use personal protective equipment, including respirators. Existing processes and control strategies are formally evaluated to determine whether additional engineering and work practice controls are feasible. For new processes, appropriate engineering and operational controls are part of the design; those controls are then installed, verified, properly operated and maintained.

Capital Projects Construction Safety

Merck has a strong construction safety program with a focus on educating and coaching our capital project construction contractors on safety fundamentals, and on driving continuous improvement in the safety culture of our construction partners. Our global engineering group has adopted Hearts and Minds™, a culture-based program that promotes safety as a personal value. The program has had a significant positive impact on our contractors’ performance.

Merck uses the days-away, restricted and transferred (DART) rate for assessing our construction capital projects, instead of the lost-time incident rate (LTIR). DART includes restricted and transferred cases that are not included in LTIR and is deemed more appropriate for the construction safety program.

Select the Performance tab on this page for a discussion of our 2012 performance.

Our safety targets include:

  • Achieve zero fatalities—our overarching safety goal
  • Reduce companywide recordable and lost-time injury rates by 15 percent (2013 vs. 2012)

Worker Safety

In recent years, more than 60 percent of our recordable employee injuries have been related to motor vehicle accidents, ergonomics issues, and slips, trips and falls.



Workplace Safety Performance

Our workplace safety performance has improved in all areas. Specifically, our overall workplace injury and illness rate and our lost-time injury rate improved by 20 percent between 2011 and 2012. Also, the number of ergonomics-related injuries and illnesses has dropped by 22% from the prior year.

Slip, Trip and Fall Performance

Although we reduced the number and severity of slip, trip and fall related injuries by 15 percent in 2012, they continue to be a leading type of work-related injury, accounting for over 20 percent of all injuries. Slip, trip and fall prevention is a key component of Target Zero—our global injury reduction initiative. Additional efforts are being directed at reducing the number of slip and fall injuries among sales colleagues, which accounted for nearly half of the companywide slip, trip and fall injuries in 2012. We expect that the awareness programs and controls recently deployed in our manufacturing and research facilities will lead to further improvement.

Motor Vehicle Safety Performance

While we saw a slight (3%) increase in the number of collisions normalized for miles traveled (accidents per million miles, or APMM) in 2012, the overall incidence of motor vehicle collisions normalized for the size of our fleet (% vehicles in accidents) improved slightly. Also, the number of employee injuries reported related to motor vehicle collisions in 2012 was lower than in 2011. The importance of motor vehicle safety was again demonstrated when, tragically, we lost one of our Merck colleagues in a motor vehicle accident in Thailand.

Construction Project Safety Performance

Our 2012 construction safety recordable injury rate (RIR) of 0.78 and our DART rate of 0.22 are significantly better than the average recordable injury rates for private industry construction—an RIR of 3.9 and a DART rate of 2.1 based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We achieved zero recordable injuries on 95 percent of our 2012 projects. With over 6.4 million 2012 construction hours logged, only nine out of 166 projects experienced recordable injuries. In 2012, global engineering construction safety logged more than 43,000 safety observations (both corrective and positive). Observations logging is an important part of the safety program because it reflects worker engagement, emphasizes being observant, and identifies issues that could lead to injury events.


Last Updated August 14, 2013