As a global healthcare company, Merck strives to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
Merck is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of our employees around the world. We also expect all employees to do their jobs without compromising their own safety and well-being or that of our workforce or the communities in which we operate.
Merck strives to eliminate work-related injuries, illnesses and unplanned events from our global operations by complying fully with all applicable country and local safety laws and regulations. We have developed comprehensive Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) programs as part of an overall management system to help our operations achieve these goals.
EHS professionals at our operating sites and in our business groups collaborate with line management in the implementation of our EHS programs, supporting site-specific procedures and training to ensure compliance and to address potential safety risks.
In addition, most of our manufacturing and research sites have active safety committees that discuss safety issues with employees and implement awareness initiatives that help promote a safety culture.
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. 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. 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 to other Merck operations and sites.
Most of our recordable employee injuries are related to motor vehicle accidents, ergonomics issues, and slips, trips and falls. The activities performed in our research and manufacturing operations also present potential risks associated with the handling and use of chemically, biologically and pharmacologically active materials. Our facility and process designs, process controls, protection systems, and emergency response capabilities are critical components of our overall effort to minimize the frequency and severity of incidents.
Motor Vehicle Safety
Vehicle collisions remain a leading cause of serious injury to Merck employees, so preventing motor vehicle accidents continues to be a key focus of our global employee safety efforts. Our sales employees are especially at risk, as most spend a significant part of any given workday on the road. In 2011, we maintained an emphasis on reducing both the frequency and severity of motor vehicle collisions in our sales and commercial operations organizations. These safety initiatives have received an ongoing commitment and strong sponsorship from our global executive team. Safety efforts resulted in a lower 2011 accidents-per-million-miles (APMM) rate and fewer employee injuries due to motor vehicle collisions in 2011.
Highlights of our 2011 motor vehicle safety initiatives included:
- Establishing divisional and regional performance targets and objectives for motor vehicle safety, with quarterly progress updates provided to executive leadership
- Implementing the motor vehicle safety element of Merck's EHS management system globally (Animal Health not fully implemented)
- Continuing the global employee safe driving training program begun in 2010, with new training content. In addition to training our drivers, we offered each employee the option of inviting a family member (spouse, domestic partner or child) to also complete each of the training modules offered. The program was expanded in 2011 from 51 to 61 global markets.
- Recognizing that commercial use of two-wheeled vehicles is a high-risk activity, highlighting that risk through our motor vehicle safety management system, and discouraging commercial use of two-wheelers globally. At present, three markets continue to use two-wheel vehicles. For 2012, significant enhancements to two-wheel rider safety program are being deployed.
As the footprint of Merck's commercial operations continues to change dramatically, particularly in emerging markets, new initiatives will continue to be launched to address potential hazards.
In each of the past four years, ergonomics-related injuries have accounted for more than 25 percent of our total recordable injuries globally. Most of those injuries involved manual material handling and repetitive motion. We are taking steps to reduce the frequency and severity of these injuries by familiarizing employees with ergonomic hazards and basic controls for office, laboratory, manufacturing and sales environments.
Merck uses a comprehensive global program to standardize the evaluation and control of ergonomic risk factors at all of our work locations. This program includes a common methodology to identify and evaluate ergonomic stresses using specific tools. These standard tools allow our locations to identify and implement control measures for ergonomic hazards, and allow sharing of proven control practices. These ergonomic assessment tools, along with the engineering ofergonomic design standards, help improve the consistency and effectiveness of ergonomics programs throughout Merck.
Slips, Trips and Falls
In 2011 Merck developed and implemented a program focused on avoiding slips, trips and falls at our manufacturing, laboratory and office locations. As part of the program, the key causal factors of slip-, trip- and fall-related injuries are identified and procedures are provided to address each of these factors. Guidelines and intervention strategies are provided for slip-resistance and the conditions of floors and walking surfaces under normal and abnormal conditions of use. The program provides guidance on cleaning and housekeeping practices, footwear, control of contamination, and procedures for dealing with adverse weather conditions. The program also includes a comprehensive employee training and awareness campaign consisting of safety talks, posters, safety stories and intranet postings.
Merck’s corporate Process Safety Management (PSM) program identifies and addresses risks associated with our pharmaceutical and vaccine production operations. The program has not yet been implemented at our Animal Health facilities.
At the rest of our facilities, this program applies not only to operations subject to process-safety regulations, but also to our pilot plants and manufacturing operations worldwide, including Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) and pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing. It establishes requirements to identify, evaluate and control process-safety risks so we can operate safely. Process Safety Management baseline and Process Hazards training were provided for EHS and technical personnel to communicate process-safety principles, requirements and program expectations.
Early in the product development stage, we begin testing our processes to identify potential process-safety hazards. This effort continues throughout the product life cycle. Process equipment design criteria, such as vessel overpressure protection, are detailed in the Merck Engineering Standards. There is still work to be done to align the manufacturing facilities of the newly acquired sites with Merck process safety related engineering standards.
PSM professionals work with operations and technical personnel using such structured techniques as hazard and operability studies to review our operations. These reviews verify that the facility, equipment, and operating controls and procedures are able to address the particular process hazards.
Merck has established an industrial hygiene (IH) management system to identify and control risks from chemical, physical and biological hazards in the workplace.
For new processes, we focus on process design to prevent or minimize health risks to employees. For existing processes, we formally evaluate ways to further reduce or eliminate occupational risk using the industrial hygiene hierarchy of controls: elimination, substitution, installation of feasible engineering controls, use of administrative controls, or the proper use of personal protective equipment.
We strive to continuously improve our industrial hygiene program by making sure we have implemented consistent processes in our facilities and providing ongoing training to our global IH team. Having a strong industrial hygiene program is critical to protecting our employees’ health and supporting the business as we develop increasingly targeted medicines.
Capital Projects Construction Safety
Merck began its construction safety program in 1990, which includes educating and coaching our capital project construction contractors on the basics, changing the safety culture, and focusing on continuous improvement.
Our global engineering group recently adopted Hearts and Minds™, a culture-based program that promotes safety as a personal value. This program has had a significant positive impact. With our cultural, strategic and tactical approach, we have been able to achieve our goal of zero recordable injuries on 95 percent of our active projects, including 58 projects over $3 million and over 100 projects under $3 million. Out of 166 active projects, injuries occurred on only nine of them.
Our safety performance has improved in many areas. Our workplace injury and illness rate and our lost-time injury rate improved by 6 percent between 2010 and 2011.
In 2011, the frequency of motor vehicle accidents per million miles (APMM) in Merck-owned or -leased vehicles declined by 5 percent globally, approximately the same improvement we experienced in 2010 over 2009. Our 2011 accident rate was below our internal target and reflects an overall 10 percent reduction in our APMM rate. Motor vehicle injuries as a percentage of all recordable injuries declined in 2011. The total number of 2011 motor vehicle–related injuries declined by 19 percent compared to 2010.
Regrettably, three Merck employees were fatally injured in transportation-related incidents during the year: One fatality was a motor vehicle-related accident, one was related to the operation of a motorbike, and one was related to an airplane accident.
In 2011, global engineering construction safety logged more than 4.8 million construction hours and more than 35,150 safety observations (both corrective and positive) and have registered a reduction in recordable injuries on projects where these metrics were actively tracked. Merck uses the DART (Days Away, Restricted and Transferred) rate for assessing our construction capital projects instead of lost-time incident rate (LTIR), because DART includes restricted and transferred cases that are not included in LTIR. By utilizing DART, we can set more aggressive targets.
Our 2011 construction safety recordable injury rate (RIR) of 0.57 and our DART rate of 0.16 are significantly better than typical rates for private industry construction, and surpassed our targets of RIR=0.87 and DART=0.20. They represent an exceptional reduction from the prior year and make 2011 the safest construction year in the history of our global engineering group.
- Achieve zero fatalitiesour overarching safety goal
- Reduce companywide recordable and lost-time injury rates by 15 percent (2012 vs. 2011)
- Reduce the motor vehicle accident rate (percentage of vehicles involved in accidents) in our human health division by 7.5 percent (2012 vs. 2011)