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Employee Safety

As a global health care company, we strive to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

We are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for our employees and contractors, and to complying with all applicable safety laws and regulations. In addition, we aim for Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) performance that is among the best in the pharmaceutical industry.

We seek to eliminate work-related injuries, illnesses and unplanned events from our operations through comprehensive safety programs that are part of our EHS management system. We also work to minimize the frequency and severity of safety and environmental incidents by focusing on proper facility design, process controls, operation and maintenance procedures, protection systems and emergency response capabilities.

Our global safety program is designed to drive a proactive safety culture and reinforce the link between our leadership behaviors and our safety and environmental objectives. We believe that through visible management, leadership and employee engagement, we can increase the awareness of hazards and help employees make the right choices when it comes to safety, health and the environment—both on and off the job. One example of leadership and employee engagement is our active site safety committees that drive program implementation and address safety issues collaboratively between management and employees.

Our company has processes in place that are consistent with the International Labour Office (ILO) Code of Practice on Recording and Notification of Occupational Accidents and Diseases (the Code) where governments have adopted the Code. In countries that have not adopted the Code, we report to governments as required by applicable law.

For consistency across the company, and to enable us to compare our injury rates with those of other multinational companies, we use the U.S.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) record-keeping criteria for recording and tracking work-related injuries and illnesses. We require all injuries, illnesses and incidents involving our employees to be reported and investigated to determine their cause. We also require that actions be taken to prevent recurrence.

Our injury and illness data are consolidated into a central system, enabling us to analyze trends and focus our efforts to continually improve. We communicate significant incidents, near-miss events and workplace conditions that could represent risks to our operations and sites around the world. We also proactively share corrective and preventive actions across our operating locations to allow all sites to learn from the improvements we make.

Learn more about EHS governance, roles and responsibilities.


We are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all of our employees and business partners.

Process safety

Our Process Safety program identifies and controls risks associated with manufacturing our human and animal health products. The program applies not only to operations that are subject to process safety regulations, but also to our pilot plants, manufacturing operations and utility areas where process hazards may exist. In addition, we have implemented a structured chemical-reaction-hazard review program for our research laboratories.

In the early stages of product development, we conduct chemical reaction and thermal testing of our intermediate materials and products to identify potential reactivity, fire and explosion hazards and environmental risks. This testing continues throughout each product’s life cycle to assure that we are aware of and can appropriately manage process risks. Global process safety professionals work with operations and engineering personnel to conduct process-hazard analyses and hazard and operability studies to thoroughly evaluate our operations. These structured reviews take place during process design, initial start-up and throughout the life of the process to ensure that our facility design, equipment, operating controls and maintenance procedures are effective in controlling process-related hazards.

Non-routine hazardous work

In recognition of industrial safety trends and our own internal assessments, we have refined our global approach to managing safety during non-routine maintenance and repair activities, as these work activities are a leading cause of serious and fatal injuries across industries. We have developed global safety standards to minimize the potential for serious incidents when our employees are working at heights, entering confined spaces and working on or near machinery, piping and electrical systems. This global effort is focused on creating a rigorous, error-free and safe approach to performing these non-routine high-hazard work activities.

PHoto of a woman working in a lab

Industrial hygiene

Our Industrial Hygiene program protects employee health throughout all stages of research and manufacturing by identifying chemical, physical and biological hazards, assessing exposures and properly controlling risks using the hierarchy of controls starting with prevention, then substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment.

For new processes and facilities, we design for safety by eliminating risks, substituting less hazardous processes or materials and installing effective engineering and operational controls. We also confirm the initial and ongoing effectiveness of these controls after installation through a robust monitoring program.

For existing processes, we first seek to eliminate or find a substitute for a hazardous material or process. When it is not possible to do so, we evaluate the feasibility of engineering controls based on the hazard and risk. Where engineering controls are not feasible, we establish effective work practice controls and require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.

Biological safety

Our Biological Safety Organization works to protect our employees, customers and neighboring communities by systematically identifying, assessing and controlling biological risks associated with the research, development and manufacture of our vaccines and therapeutic proteins.

Our biological risk management program drives safety by setting industry-leading performance expectations for governance, controls, strategy, planning, management, reporting, policies, processes and corporate culture.

Our company’s commitment to protect human health and the environment extends to every aspect of our biological safety program, including:

  • Biosafety (preventing accidental biological release)
  • Biosecurity (preventing intentional biological release)
  • Bioethics (promoting responsible use of biological materials and technologies)
  • Sustainability (reducing our environmental footprint)
  • Product stewardship (reducing environmental hazards)

Motor vehicle safety

The aim of our Motor Vehicle Safety program is to promote a strong safety culture for our employees who operate vehicles for conducting company business. Our program is designed to reduce the frequency and severity of motor vehicle injuries and reduce the number of collisions, violations and vehicle-related incidents across our global network. We have implemented a global motor vehicle safety standard and adopted programs, such as telematics that provide real-time continuous feedback, to support safe driving skills and behaviors of our sales and marketing employees who operate the majority of our business-use vehicles. As a result of our continuous improvement efforts, we are seeing a corresponding reduction in the injuries associated with vehicular collisions, both for our own employees and for those with whom we share the road.


The objective of our ergonomics program is to minimize employee injuries and improve human performance and well-being in relation to job tasks, equipment and the work environment. 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.

Ergonomic-related injuries continue to represent about 17 percent of our recordable injury cases globally. Our long-term strategy is to minimize ergonomic related injuries by improving the engineering design of our processes and equipment. Critical elements of our program include providing training on risk and controls, communicating with employees and encouraging their participation in workplace assessments.

In 2018, we placed additional emphasis on proactively assessing existing processes and equipment that presented ergonomic risks. Formal plans drove risk assessments and an engineering control feasibility process was established to better mitigate risk factors following the hierarchy of control principles.

PHoto of a woman working at a standing desk

Emergency preparedness and response

We prioritize the prevention of incidents through equipment and facility design, operational and maintenance procedures and employee training. Because we recognize that incidents can still occur, our EHS standards require emergency preparedness and response capabilities at all of our facilities worldwide.

Our priorities for emergency response include:

  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees
  • Preserving the environment and nearby communities
  • Protecting our physical assets

Site-specific emergency response procedures include incident reporting and management, personnel evacuation, medical/first-aid response and incident response and control. We routinely conduct emergency response drills and train employees in both job- and site-specific emergency response duties.

We conduct pre-emergency planning for credible emergency scenarios such as process upsets, fires, spills, releases, severe weather and security-related incidents. Many of our manufacturing plants have trained emergency response teams, and mobile fire and rescue apparatus that can respond to onsite fires, medical emergencies, technical rescues and spills/releases. Most of our emergency response teams interact directly with their local community-based emergency responders, and in some cases, assist off-site when requested.

Loss prevention

Protecting our people, facilities, production processes and product supply chains from threats such as hurricanes, floods, windstorms, earthquakes and fires is critical to ensuring that our products reach our customers when needed. We proactively assess and manage these risks at our facilities and at several of our strategic third-party manufacturers and warehouse providers. Our loss-prevention program focuses on:

  • Providing appropriate facility and process designs
  • Implementing inspection, prevention and maintenance procedures
  • Installing fire detection and protection systems
  • Executing emergency response and business continuity programs to eliminate or reduce the impact of potential loss events

We also engage the services of globally recognized engineering service providers to routinely inspect facilities and review new designs and facility modifications. This helps us to maintain a high standard of loss prevention that corresponds to the level of operational risk, monetary value and supply-chain importance.

Capital projects construction safety

We have a strong Construction Safety program with a focus on zero harm to people, property and the environment. Our Global Engineering Solutions group oversees hundreds of contractors and thousands of skilled craftworkers on our construction projects worldwide. Safety is integrated into all stages of our construction projects, beginning with the concept and design phases and carried through to detailed design and construction.

In 2018, we received two Safety Excellence Awards for our contractor safety management program from the Construction User Round Table (CURT). CURT is a global organization that provides an international forum for the exchange of information and expertise to improve safety, productivity and competitive advantage for the construction industry.

Our Construction Safety program mandates pre-job planning, hazard assessments and daily safety audits. We also conduct monthly peer reviews by bringing together in-house engineers, contractors, EHS and other partners to conduct thorough project safety evaluations and sharing of best practices. We completed 112 peer safety reviews in 2018, covering 93 percent of our active projects.

Each year we set targets for leading and lagging safety metrics, including safety observations, near-miss reporting, peer safety audits, recordable injury rates and days away, reassignment or transferred (DART) rate. During contractor prequalification, we review each contractor’s safety program along with their past safety performance to verify safety targets are met. Every contractor receives a detailed safety orientation and training prior to beginning work onsite. All craft workers must complete 10 hours of OSHA training and all craft supervisors must complete 30 hours of OSHA training (or equivalent) before coming onsite. Quarterly contractor performance evaluations are completed and reviewed with management to ensure compliance with procedures and foster continuous improvement. Contract provisions exist for termination of contracts due to unsatisfactory contractor safety performance.

In 2018, we logged 5.8 million construction hours and achieved zero injuries on 92 percent of our capital construction projects. Our 2018 construction safety recordable injury rate (RIR) of 0.73 reflects an increase over our 2017 rate, but our DART rate of 0.28 is lower than last year showing a drop in the severity of contractor injuries. In 2018, we had a significant increase in the number of construction hours and capital projects being implemented outside the U.S., where contractor safety cultures and performance can be less advanced. Even so, our injury rates continue to be significantly better than construction industry averages.

Safety for non-company personnel

We frequently work with integrated facility management (IFM) partners whose employees perform work at our sites. These contractors are required to follow our company’s EHS procedures, identify and monitor compliance activities associated with their scope of services, and meet safety-related performance objectives.

Our IFM partners pre-qualify the contractors that they use at our sites, provide those contractors with safety training, perform EHS inspections and monitor EHS performance. Contractors are required to report and investigate all incidents and near-miss events. They also work with site-based EHS contacts to identify and implement corrective and preventive actions, which are tracked to completion. Our internal facility managers monitor IFM partner compliance with all EHS requirements.

Contractors working at our sites that are not managed by our IFM partners are pre-qualified using the same process as our embedded contractors, including verification of safety training. These contractors are assigned internal company liaisons who monitor safety and environmental compliance, perform observations of their work and verify that necessary corrective actions are taken.

In 2018 our IFM partners had a total recordable injury rate (RIR) of 0.71 and a lost-time injury rate (LTIR) of 0.47. Our major IFM providers’ injury rates continue to be significantly better than industry averages.


We have worked steadily to drive down our workplace injury rates.

In 2018, our lost-time injury rate was 0.10, a 23 percent reduction from 2017. Our recordable injury rate was 0.30, down 9 percent from the prior year. This is the seventh consecutive year of global injury reduction and our second consecutive year in the first quartile when compared against our pharmaceutical industry peers.

We regret to report that we lost two of our employees in 2018. One was fatally injured while performing work on a chiller unit at one of our locations in Japan. Another employee perished in a motor vehicle incident in China.

Last year, 33 percent of our recordable injuries were related to slips, trips and falls, with “struck-by/caught-in” and ergonomic-related injuries accounting for 22 and 17 percent of the total number of injuries, respectively. We continue to focus our efforts on reducing these types of injuries. In addition to our focus on the safe design of new facilities, we proactively address existing risks through the hierarchy of controls, focusing on eliminating high-risk tasks and improving engineering controls.

In 2018, 13 percent of our company’s recordable injuries were related to motor vehicle collisions. We saw a 5 percent decrease in the number of collisions, normalized for miles traveled in 2018 versus the prior year. Our global vehicle safety program includes a standard duty of care by holding both employees and managers accountable for achieving safe driving expectations.

GLOBAL SAFETY PERFORMANCE2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Workplace safety
Recordable Injury Rate (RIR)0.58 0.48 0.35 0.33 0.30
RIR percentage change-6% -17% -27% -6% -9%
Lost-Time Injury Rate (LTIR)0.20 0.22 0.13 0.13 0.10
Fatalities11 1 0 0 2
Motor vehicle safety
Collisions per million miles (CPMM)213.40 12.41 9.48 7.29 6.93
Capital projects construction safety3, 4
RIR0.96 0.87 0.53 0.59 0.73
DART50.44 0.38 0.26 0.32 0.28
Fatalities0 0 0 0 0
Facility management contractor safety6
FatalitiesNA NA NA NA 0
NA: Not Available.
Note: Injury rates are subject to change over time, as new cases are added and case classifications change in accordance with our own requirements and applicable regulatory requirements.
1 All fatalities were transportation-related, except for one high-risk work fatality in 2018.
2 CPMM: Reflects both personal and business use of company-owned or -leased vehicles.
3 LTIR/RIR: Calculated per OSHA methodology.
4 Primarily reflects capital projects over $100,000 managed by our global engineering group.
5 DART: days away, reassigned or transferred, calculated per OSHA 300 methodology.
6 Injury rates for IFM partners; reporting initiated in 2018.
Pie chart showing lost-time injuries by business areas, with data in the tables below
Pie chart showing recordable injuries by causal factors, with data in the tables below
CASES BY BUSINESS AREA (#)Lost-Time Cases Recordable Cases
Facility Management2 12
Global Human Health (GHH)31 73
Global Support Functions (legal, HR, IT, S&E, et al.)5 11
Animal Health1 8
Manufacturing (MMD)29 92
Research (MRL)9 32
TOTAL77 228
Biological Exposure4 1.8%
Chemical Exposure8 3.5%
Ergonomic38 16.7%
Motor Vehicle29 12.7%
Non-Ergonomic11 4.8%
Other9 3.9%
Physical/Environmental Exposure6 2.6%
Slips-Trips-Falls74 32.5%
Struck-Caught49 21.5%