Employee Safety

Employee Safety

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

We remain committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for our employees and contractors, and complying with all applicable safety laws and regulations. We seek to eliminate work-related injuries, illnesses and unplanned events from our operations through comprehensive safety programs that are part of our Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) management system. We also strive 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 “mindset shift” 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. We also promote a strong safety culture at our sites through active safety committees that drive program implementation and address safety issues collaboratively between management and employees.

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 that all recordable injuries, illnesses and incidents involving our employees 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 also take steps—through internal safety alerts and bulletins—to communicate significant incidents, near-miss events and conditions that could represent risks at our other operations and sites. We share corrective and preventive actions across our operating locations to allow all sites to benefit from proven practices.

Click here for EHS governance, roles and responsibilities.


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


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.

Early in 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 the product life cycle to assure that we are aware of and can appropriately manage process risks. Global process safety professionals work with operational and engineering personnel to conduct process-hazard analyses (PHA) and hazard and operability (HAZOP) studies to thoroughly evaluate our operations. These structured reviews take place during process design, initial start-up and throughout the process life cycle, to ensure that our facility design, equipment, operating controls and maintenance procedures are effective in controlling process-related hazards.


In recognition of industrial safety trends and our own internal EHS audit observations, we have refined our global approach to managing safety during non-routine maintenance and repair activities. Across the industry, these work activities are a leading cause of serious and fatal injuries. We have developed the following global safety standards: employee training and safety equipment requirements to minimize the potential for serious incidents when our employees are working on or near machinery, piping and electrical systems; working at heights; entering confined spaces; and conducting other high-risk work activities. This global effort is focused on creating a rigorous, error-free and safe approach to performing these work activities.


We have a strong Construction Safety program with a focus on zero harm to people, property and the environment. We educate and coach our capital project construction contractors on EHS fundamentals and the need to drive 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 led to a steady increase in leading indicator performance such as safety observations, pre-task planning and hazard assessments, and has resulted in a steady decrease in contractor injuries.

99% of our 2016 capital construction projects had zero recordable injuries

For construction projects, we use the days away, reassignment or transferred (DART) rate for assessing our construction capital projects, instead of the lost-time incident rate (LTIR). DART is commonly used in the construction industry and is, therefore, an appropriate lagging indicator for our construction safety program.

We logged 3.8 million construction hours in 2016 and had zero recordable injuries in 99 percent of our 2016 construction projects. Our 2016 construction safety recordable injury rate (RIR) of 0.53 reflects a 39 percent decrease from 2015, and our DART rate of 0.26 decreased 32 percent over the prior year.

In 2016, our global engineering construction safety group logged 44,391 safety observations (both corrective and positive), 20,000 more than we completed in 2015. Logging safety observations is an important part of the program, because it reflects worker engagement and interventions, emphasizes being observant, and identifies and prevents issues that could lead to injury events.

Our Construction Safety peer reviews bring in-house engineers, contractors, Environmental, Health & Safety and other partners together for thorough project safety evaluations with lessons learned and sharing of best practices. We completed 123 peer safety reviews in 2016, covering 90 percent of the active projects in 2016 versus our target of 75 percent.


Our Industrial Hygiene program protects the health of our employees throughout all stages of research and manufacturing by identifying chemical, physical and biological hazards, assessing exposures, and properly controlling risks.

To protect the health of our employees, we apply a hierarchy of control measures that first seeks 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 use appropriate personal protective equipment. We formally evaluate existing processes and control strategies to determine whether further engineering and work practice controls are feasible. For new processes and facilities, appropriate engineering and operational controls are part of the design and installation. We verify the effectiveness of these controls after installation and ensure that they are properly used and maintained.

In 2016, our engineering control database continued to expand to include more exposure control solutions, as well as performance data on the effectiveness of the installed engineering controls. This database enables our engineering and EHS professionals to efficiently and effectively identify potential exposure control solutions for new and existing processes.


Our biosafety program utilizes a performance-based management system to effectively mitigate bio-risks associated with the research, development and manufacturing of human and animal vaccines and therapeutic proteins. We use a robust and effective risk assessment process that evaluates and controls potential impacts, including:

  • Biosafety (preventing an accidental release)
  • Biosecurity (preventing an intentional release)
  • Bioethics (promoting responsible use of biological materials and technologies)
  • Sustainability (minimizing our environmental footprint), and
  • Product stewardship (eliminating or minimizing safety and environmental hazards)

Each risk assessment identifies risk-mitigating controls and a risk management strategy, which includes biosafety training, emergency response procedures and containment level requirements.


The aim of our Motor Vehicle Safety program is to reduce the frequency and the severity of motor vehicle injuries in our global operations. We have implemented a global motor vehicle safety standard across all regions that includes programs to support safe driving skills and behaviors across our sales and marketing groups, which operate the majority of our business-use vehicles. As we make these improvements, 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.

In 2016, 24 percent of the recordable injuries companywide were motor vehicle collision–related. We saw a 24 percent decrease in the number of collisions, normalized for miles traveled in 2016, versus the prior year, and a 20 percent reduction in motor vehicle collision–related employee injuries.


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 21 percent of our recordable injury cases globally. To minimize ergonomic risks, engineering design and work practices are reviewed and implemented at our sites. We are focusing our efforts on the sites and operations that have the highest ergonomic risks by conducting risk assessments, implementing engineering and operational controls, providing training, communicating with employees and encouraging their participation in workplace assessments. These efforts help to improve employees’ ergonomic awareness both at work and at home.


We prioritize the prevention of incidents through equipment and facility design, operational and maintenance procedures, and employee training. Because we recognize that incidents may still occur, our EHS standards require emergency 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, and 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 develop and 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 respond to on-site 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.


Protecting our people, facilities, production processes and product supply chains from threats such as floods, windstorms, earthquakes and fires is critical to ensuring that our products reach our customers when needed without any supply interruptions. 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 suitable facility and process designs; implementing inspection, prevention and maintenance procedures; installing fire detection and protection systems; and executing emergency response and business continuity programs to eliminate or reduce the impact of these 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 maintain a high standard of loss prevention that is commensurate to operational risks, monetary value and supply-chain importance.


We have worked steadily over the last five years to drive down our workplace injury rates, and we have seen continual improvement as a result.

In 2016, our lost-time injury rate decreased to 0.13, which is a reduction of 41 percent from 2015.  Our recordable injury rate was 0.35, 27 percent lower than in the prior year.

Last year, roughly a quarter of the recordable injuries were motor vehicle–related, with slips, trips and falls and ergonomic-related injuries accounting for 23 and 21 percent of the total number of injuries, respectively.

We saw a 24 percent decrease in the number of motor vehicle collisions, normalized for miles traveled in 2016, versus the prior year, and a 20 percent reduction in motor vehicle collision–related injuries.

In 2016, we continued to focus our efforts towards reducing the number of slips, trips and falls, and we reduced these types of incidents by 42 percent versus the prior year.

Our focus on ergonomics, including workplace design, continued to show signs of improvement in 2016, by reducing the number of ergonomic-related recordable injury cases by 10 percent from 2015.

Long-Term Injuries by Business Area in 2016
Recordable Injuries by Causal Factors in 2016

Global Safety Performance

WORKPLACE SAFETY2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Recordable injury rate (RIR) 0.62 0.62 0.58 0.48 0.35
RIR percentage decrease over prior year 16% 0% 6% 17% 27%
Lost-time incident rate (LTIR) 0.28 0.28 0.20 0.22 0.13
Fatalities1 1 1 1 1 0
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.
MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Collisions per million miles (CPMM)110.23 12.98 13.40 12.41 9.48
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. CPMM: Reflects both personal and business use of company-owned or -leased vehicles.
RIR0.78 0.36 0.96 0.87 0.53
DART30.22 0.20 0.44 0.38 0.26
Fatalities0 0 0 0 0
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. LTIR/RIR: Calculated per OSHA methodology.
2. Primarily reflects capital projects of more than $100,000 managed by our Global Engineering group.
3. DART: days away, reassignment or transferred, calculated per OSHA 300 methodology.