At The Coca-Cola Company, our long-term success depends upon working to ensure the safety of our workers, visitors to our operations, and the public.
We believe that a safe and healthy workplace is a fundamental right of every person and also a business imperative. Our Workplace Rights Policy requires that we take responsibility for maintaining a productive workplace in every part of our Company by doing what we can to minimize the risk of accidents, injury and exposure to health hazards for all of our associates and contractors. In addition, we’re working with our bottling partners to help to ensure health and safety risks are minimized for their employees and contract workers.
Our lost-time incident rate for The Coca-Cola Company has decreased to 1.7 in 2015, continuing our downward trend. While this represents an 11% decrease from 2014, it is still above industry benchmark levels of 0.2 or better. In addition to lost time incident rate, we are working with our bottling partners to focus on more comprehensive and actionable metrics, which along with more comprehensive reporting, is expected to allow us to better manage our operations.
Despite our efforts to improve overall safety management, we regret that two Company associates and five contractors lost their lives in 2015 in incidents during the course of work. There were three vehicle incidents (one with two contractors in Viet Nam, and one employee incident each in Sri Lanka and the U.S.) and one fatal armed robbery in Guatemala. There were two contractor fatalities involving falls in India. In addition to the actions taken to address each of these specific incidents, we continue to focus on vehicle safety, contractor safety, and fall prevention and protection. Additionally, we continue to improve our security procedures to identify and minimize the risks due to armed robberies in the areas in which we operate. In 2015 we launched a ‘Top 10 Fatality Prevention Actions’ program to guide our plants, distribution centers, and fleet operations in working to eliminate the most frequent historical causes of fatalities.
The Coca-Cola Operating Requirements (KORE) define the policies, standards and requirements for managing safety, the environment and quality throughout our operations. KORE also requires that our manufacturing and distribution facilities implement BS OHSAS 18001 (British Standard Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001, a framework for an effective occupational health and safety management system) or an equivalent internationally recognized safety management system.
To guide us in working to achieve a safe work environment for our associates, KORE defines a rigorous set of operational controls to manage known risks. The controls generally align with top global requirements and consensus standards.
In 2015, our senior leadership set specific safety expectations for our business, including the implementation of robust safety response processes and ensuring that incident reduction action plans and intervention practices are in place. Tools and approaches for safety improvement were also shared with our franchise bottling partners as part of our Global System Meeting. Also in 2015, we continued implementation of improvements to our governance systems, including the move to unannounced audits and internalizing our Safety and Environment auditors.
We provide substantial safety training to our associates using the training requirements defined in KORE as a global baseline. Training covers new-hire induction and periodic refresher training for all associates and other workers conducting work on our behalf.
The Quality, Safety & Environment (QSE) capability team has implemented several programs designed to improve operational performance:
- The QSE Professional Excellence Program is an intensive training and development program focused on field development.
- QSE College provides online quality, safety and environmental training for business units of the Company as well as bottling partners globally.
- The QSE Competency Model is a tool to assess job-specific knowledge, skills and behaviors. The model indicates the QSE proficiency required for a specific role and for QSE professionals across the value chain.
In 2015 we also initiated pilots to explore different ways of using technology to more effectively deliver safety content, training, and assessment tools. Examples include broader use of mobile ‘apps’ for improved interaction in the field, file sharing platforms with expanded bottler access, and a vendor-provided solution to deliver personalized training content while measuring both the user’s understanding and confidence level. We will continue to expand and explore the results of these pilots to determine the optimum ways to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time in the right way within our widely-distributed workforce.
Improving route-to-market safety remains a key priority for the Company. Route-to-market, or RTM, is defined as the movement of products and people between our bottling plants and our customers. RTM is characterized by a complex chain of events that varies greatly throughout the world and often involves third-party partners. Because everything from cars and trucks to canoes and motorcycles is used to distribute our products, solutions must be developed and implemented at a local level.
In 2014 and 2015, we continued RTM safety workshops in areas experiencing higher rates of vehicle-related incidents, such as Mexico, Ghana, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Turkey, the Philippines and Costa Rica. The workshops are designed to share best practices and build real solutions in areas including route risk management, driver training and vehicle inspection and maintenance. They also help to develop a system-wide network for best-practice sharing and problem solving.
Our system encompasses nearly 250 bottling partners and several thousand distribution centers. Our goal is to reach alignment on a common safety vision, educate associates on good safety practices and continuously improve safety performance throughout the system.