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Health and safety

In 2019, we made a breakthrough in safety performance. The efforts and dedication to improve safety have really started to show results. While every accident or life-altering risk occurring on our premises is one too many, we are proud of the progress we have made with our teams in creating a no-harm-to-anyone working environment.

"There are no compromises on safety"

BeCare: no harm to anyone @Bekaert

It is our goal to create a no-harm-to-anyone working environment at Bekaert. We commit to do whatever is necessary to eliminate accidents in the workplace. BeCare, the Bekaert global safety program, is the way to do this. It focuses on creating an interdependent safety culture, promoting strong risk awareness, removing risk tolerance, and investing in the necessary tools and equipment to create a safer working environment.

During an intensive training period, employees are acquainted with a comprehensive set of safety practices, learn to spot and deal with unsafe situations, and know how to contribute to creating a caring environment. BeCare has changed the behavior in our plants and offices and in our meetings with business partners.

In 2019, we further rolled out this global safety excellence program that was launched in 2016. By the end of 2019, more than 26 000 employees were trained. We plan to complete the process by the end of 2020.

Felt Leadership

As part of the BeCare program, Felt Leadership was introduced to our top leadership teams and to all our plant leadership teams. Felt Leadership aims to increase the awareness for roles & responsibilities related to safety. During workshops, the leadership teams learn how to continuously demonstrate leadership and take commitments in their own teams. In 2020, we will further deploy Felt Leadership in health & safety to all supervisors and foremen worldwide.

Equipment safety standard

Next to the behavioral component to safety, we realize that equipment safety is also key in our efforts to improve our safety performance. Therefore, in 2019, we introduced a new equipment safety standard that describes the requirements to which all new and existing equipment should comply. Our Engineering departments start their design process from this standard when they develop a new machine. 

Existing machinery is as of 2019 assessed on its safety-related risks via a new risk assessment method. The method is an update of our previous assessment tool and prioritizes the risks that may have the most severe impact and are most likely to happen.

GRI 403-2

LSR all

Life Saving Rules

At Bekaert, we believe all incidents and injuries are preventable. In line with our BeCare safety program, and to put more emphasis on safety in specific situations, we introduced 10 Life Saving Rules at the end of 2018. The rules are simple do’s and don’ts in 10 hazardous situations that have the highest potential to cause death.

They apply to everyone: employees, contractors and visitors. Abiding by these rules is a condition of employment and access to our sites. Following these rules and helping others to do so will save lives. That is why consequence management applies for those who do not follow the Life Saving Rules. 

In the first months of 2019, we organized several training sessions to introduce the Life Saving Rules. Every employee attended one of the mandatory sessions. The trainings informed everyone about the importance of the rules and the behavioral changes that the rules imply were discussed. After the training, every employee signed a certificate to show their commitment to complying with the Life Saving Rules. 

(GRI 403-2 + GRI 403-7)


Permit to work

Three of the Life Saving Rules are related to tasks for which a Permit to Work is mandatory. A Permit to Work is an on-the-job document that authorizes specified people to carry out non-routine hazardous work that is not described in a standard operating procedure. Permit to Work documents were already used in our plants, but in 2019 we developed a group-wide standard procedure that all plants should follow. Examples of activities that require a Permit to Work are among others working at height, working in a confined space and energized electrical work. 

The Life Saving Rules are not only applicable at the workplace, but also at home and in other situations and certainly on the road.

A healthy workplace

In addition to the BeCare initiatives in safety, we also aim to create and maintain a healthy workplace for our employees.

Special attention is given throughout the company to the safe handling and storage of chemicals. A central database records all chemicals used in our plants and strict health and safety guidelines apply for our employees. Employees who are exposed to potentially hazardous materials go through a mandatory medical check-up every six months. (GRI 403-3)

At Bekaert we closely monitor the EU REACH regulation to ensure compliance.

We are in contact with our suppliers to verify their REACH compliance in the supply process of raw materials. Furthermore, we identify substances of concern and start proactive phase-out programs. In case we identify important regional differences in hazard classification and exposure limits, we are committed to applying our own company-specific hazard classification and exposure limits which are mandatory if no stricter regulations apply. (GRI 403-7)

We monitor workplace conditions such as noise, dust and temperature and are defining and implementing a roadmap to make further improvements. Our new investments take into account very strict standards with regards to all working conditions. (GRI 403-6)

All employees and subcontractors working in the Bekaert plants worldwide wear the safety and health equipment provided to avoid the risks of injuries and health impact.

This includes uniforms, dust filters, eye and ear protection and grippers and hoists to lift and handle spools, coils, and pallets in an ergonomic way.

Bekaert is implementing a program to eliminate the emissions of diesel-powered forklifts and other internal trucks in the plants: there will be no renewal of leases or purchase of diesel-powered forklifts, unless there is no alternative. 

(GRI 403-3)

Post balance sheet: actions put in place in relation to the coronavirus 
As of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China at the beginning of 2020, Bekaert has been taking actions to limit potential infection inside our plants and offices, and to take our responsibility, as an employer, to do whatever is necessary and possible to secure people’s health and safety, around the world. We learned from the effective actions put in place in China and established an international crisis committee to determine and deploy actions in all our sites worldwide. We temporarily shut down sites in compliance with government regulations or as a preventative measure, where we could not ensure ‘social distancing’ or sufficient personal protection equipment. Bekaert also offered compensation solutions in countries where social security measures are insufficient for employees to bridge the period of inactivity. Through telework tools and other internal communication efforts, we informed our workforce worldwide on the continuously changing situation and on personal hygiene etiquette.

International Health and Safety Week

In September 2019, Bekaert organized its 12th International Health & Safety Week. We wanted to take the opportunity to look back at the implementation of the Life Saving Rules and see what we achieved so far and which actions we still need to take. Everyone was asked to evaluate if their work environment and their own behavior were in line with the Life Saving Rules. Every location had to complete a gap analysis; a checklist that includes all measures each location should take to be in line with the Life Saving Rules. If needed, an action plan was defined to close the gaps. While the gap analysis focused on the work environment, we also launched a self-assessment that measured if the Life Saving Rules were already part of everyone’s work behavior. 

Bekaert plants worldwide shared best practice videos with measures they had taken to be in line with the Life Saving Rules, warnings for potential dangerous situations, and safety tips and tricks in general. The videos gave everyone the opportunity to learn from other colleagues’ experiences and to create awareness for life threatening situations. 

(GRI 403-4)

HnS week China
Hns week

We also launched an animated video that explains the Life Saving Rules. The video can be used during information sessions for new employees, as a refresher for all employees or to show our visitors and train our contractors. 

Safety related data

(GRI 403-2)

Bekaert (excluded BBRG) holds a group-wide OHSAS certificate of which 40% of our plants are part. (GRI 403-1)

On average each employee received 5 hours of safety related training in 2019. (GRI 403-5)

In 2019 both the Total Recordable Incident Rate and the Lost-Time Incident Frequency Rate decreased compared to 2018. The Total Recordable Incident Rate decreased by 22%. 

It goes without saying that we want no fatalities or accidents with life-altering injuries to occur, ever. In 2019 there were 9 serious injuries within the Bekaert Group, one more than in 2018, which – in combination with a decrease in total of hours worked - led to an increase of the ‘Serious Injury rate’. Our ambition is to reach zero serious injuries by 2025.

In 2019, 24% of the recorded accidents had the potential to lead to serious injuries, down from 27% in 2018. We will continue our efforts to reduce the percentage of recordable accidents with the potential to lead to serious injuries.

44% of the accidents that happen in Bekaert give cause to hand and finger injuries. Head and neck injuries account for 20%, upper limbs for 15%. In safety procedures and during safety trainings, special attention is given to the prevention of these types of injuries.
(GRI 403-9)

TRIR 2019 ENG 
(GRI 403-9)


 LTIFR Combined       LTIFR combined

(GRI 403-9)

SI Rate Bekaert Combined (Consolidated plants + joint ventures):  serious injuries per million worked hours 

SI Rate Combined 2017 2018  2019
  0.118 0.112 0.128

SI Rate Bekaert Consolidated Plants: serious injuries per million worked hours 

SI Rate Consolidated 2017 2018  2019
  0.135 0.128 0.131

(GRI 403-9)

Incidents rates per region

Group data per region LTIFR(1) All (Bekaert payroll employees + contractors(*))
LTIFR(1) Bekaert
LTIFR(1) Contractor SIF rate(2) All (Bekaert payroll employees + contractors) SIF rate(2) Bekaert SIF rate(2) Contractor  TRIR (3)All (Bekaert payroll employees + contractors) TRIR(3) Bekaert  TRIR(3) Contractor 
EMEA 7.83 7.67 9.04  0.25 0.21 0.53 10.55 10.60 10.10
Latin America 2.91 3.31 1.51 0.11  0.00 0.51 3.59 4.03 2.02
Brazil (JV) 0.95 1.17 0.38 0.11 0.15 0.00  2.22 2.48 1.53
North America 8.37 8.48 6.90 0.25 0.00 3.45 23.63 24.38 13.80
Asia Pacific 0.63 0.59 0.75 0.06 0.04 0.13 1.39 1.40 1.37

*Contractor = employee of a supplier who performs a predefined tasks on a regular base on our premises. This includes but is not limited to employees of cleaning services, security services, temporary employment agencies (interim workers).

(GRI 403-9)

Incidents rates per gender

Group data by gender (payroll employees) Male
  2018 2019  2018 2019
LTIFR(1) 4.97 3.57 2.20 1.78
SIF rate(2)   0.14 0.08 0.00 0.16
TRIR(3)  8.28 6.16 3.89 2.92

(1) LTIFR: Lost Time Incident Frequency Rate: number of lost time accidents (LTA) per million worked hours.
(2) SI: real Serious injuries per million worked hours.
(3) TRIR: Total Recordable Injury Rate: all recorded accidents.

(GRI 403-9)

Safety champions in consolidated plants

In 2019, 18 plants achieved more than 1 year without recordable safety incidents.

At the end of 2019, Bekaert introduced the Bekaert Leadership & Excellence Awards. The awards celebrate teams or individuals that supported and reinforced our performance-driven culture with their extraordinary efforts and contributions. One of the categories is SH&E Excellence, meant to recognize a sustainable track record of safety, a proven turnaround/breakthrough or an innovative approach in SH&E capability improvement through targeted actions. Teams from three Bekaert plants were nominated: the operations team from our Bekaert New Materials plant in Suzhou (China) for showing great improvement with zero accidents in the past two years, Prodalam, one of our subsidiaries in Chile for clear improvement, leadership and strong commitment, and China Bekaert Steel Cord in Jiangyin for the strong safety results on the shop floor in 2019.

Health and safety committees

Our integral workforce is represented in formal joint management-worker health and safety committees. They help monitor and formulate advice on occupational health and safety programs. 
(GRI 403-4)

With respect to privacy protection of personnel related data, Bekaert has implemented all necessary measures, policies, procedures and processes in order to be General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant.
(GRI 403-3)