Global Citizenship

Creating a Culture of Citizenship > Our Workplace Employee Health and Safety


Safe driving for our sales force is one focus of our health and safety programs. For example, Abbott True Care’s Fleet Safety program consists of a one-day, behind-the-wheel driver training course for new hires and issuance of a government-approved helmet.

Abbott has clear, consistent global policies and standards requiring that we operate in a manner that promotes employee health, safety and productivity while also protecting the environment. Among other tenets, our Global Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Policy aims to:

  • Foster a work environment that is ultimately free of injuries
  • Improve the efficiency and sustainability of all our business activities
  • Require contractors working on behalf of Abbott to conform to regulatory requirements and meet applicable internal EHS standards
  • Integrate sound health and safety practices consistent with our management system into all aspects of the business
  • Establish goals and strategies for the enterprise and report publicly on our progress

Our global standards and technical program requirements include metrics, audit and reporting mechanisms that serve as a baseline expectation for health and safety performance worldwide. Each Abbott manufacturing plant, R&D center and commercial operation implements a plan based on these standards and is evaluated regularly.

Our management standards set minimum requirements in the following areas:

  • Health and Safety Policy and Program
  • Strategic Planning
  • Self-Assessment/Risk Assessment
  • Business Integration
  • Training and Awareness
  • Communication and Information
  • Performance Measures
  • Assurance Reviews
  • Health and Safety Global Standards

These technical standards allow Abbott to have consistent technical expectations at all our sites around the world.

Health and Safety Management and Training

Improving our performance requires clear lines of accountability and senior-level leadership and support. We have multiple levels of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) management oversight within our business units and across the company. The Senior Vice President Quality Assurance, Regulatory and Global Engineering Services, a corporate officer, reviews metrics, key programs and progress with the Chairman and CEO on a regular basis.

We recognize that continuously improving our health and safety performance demands clear lines of accountability and senior-level leadership and support. The following groups implement our health and safety programs and initiatives:

  • Environment, Health and Safety Executive Council: This body sets priorities for all Abbott work sites and assures that resources are made available to meet local needs. Sponsored by a corporate officer, the council consists of EHS heads in each operating business.
  • Commercial Environment, Health and Safety Executive Council: This council sets and implements EHS goals and objectives for our sales operations around the world. A corporate officer chairs this group.

Reducing Accidents

We believe that all employee health and safety incidents are preventable, and that safety is the responsibility of every manager. As in other areas of citizenship reporting, we use an annual review process and routine performance reporting to help us set and monitor appropriate health and safety targets and to drive continuous improvement in our performance. Two of our key health and safety goals are reducing the number of incidents that result in time off work and reducing the incidence of vehicle accidents among our employees.

At the end of 2012, we set a new lost workday case rate target for 2020 of 0.18 cases per 100 employees. In 2012, our rate of 0.29 cases per 100 employees was 20 percent improved over our performance in 2011. To achieve our 2020 goal, Abbott will continue to focus on two key areas.

First, a risk-based system focuses on the specific facilities with the greatest opportunity for health and safety performance improvement each year. Each business unit is responsible for addressing the concerns in its identified facilities by reviewing specific risks and implementing measures to improve performance.

The second area of focus is behavior-based safety. Senior leaders in each Abbott organization have embraced our safety culture strategy, Moving to Zero. In 2012, policy requirements were implemented to establish accountabilities for management observations, in which unsafe occupational behaviors are recognized and corrected.

To complement these work site-based initiatives, we regularly publish and distribute to all employees information and advice on improving safety at home and in the workplace. Examples of our materials include a CARE at Home booklet and our Moving to Zero video. Sites around the world also share best-in-class programs aimed to reduce employee injuries. This global initiative encourages all employees to think and act safely, and helps lead Abbott toward an injury-free culture.


Vehicle Safety

Vehicle safety is another key priority for Abbott. At the end of 2012, we set a vehicle accidents target for 2020 of 4.0 accidents per million miles driven – a 60 percent reduction from our 2010 baseline year. In 2012, our global vehicle accident rate decreased by 21 percent from the 2011 rate, to 5.7 accidents per million miles driven.

In early 2012, we launched a new, comprehensive global education campaign to our large international Affiliates, designed to help our employees better understand the risks associated with distracted driving. Formally known as Helping Employees Reduce Risk Across the Organization (HERO), the campaign focuses on our commercial field sales force. HERO is designed to encourage field-based employees to use safe driving habits and to raise awareness about the risks posed by in-vehicle distractions such as mobile telephone use. Since the campaign’s launch, several of our business divisions have already taken steps to prohibit calling and texting while driving, even in locations where mobile phone use is still permitted by law. We are expanding this program to additional sites in 2013.

To further advance vehicle safety, we focus on specific countries with the highest risk profile and a history of higher accident rates. For example, in 2012, we significantly increased training for employees in our recently acquired businesses in India who travel on motorcycles. By year end, over 90 percent of the new Indian field force employees had been fully trained in behind-the-wheel training and on the importance of motorcycle safety and the specific steps they can take to prevent accidents. Additionally, widespread helmet distribution and enforcement – combined with our educational initiatives – contributed to a 59 percent reduction in lost-time cases and a 70 percent reduction in significant incidents during the second half of the year.


Commercial Employee Health and Safety

Our health and safety culture extends throughout our company. We seek to provide a safe working environment and encourage sound safety practices – not just in manufacturing plants and vehicles, but in every type of work site and facility. As a means of creatively engaging commercial employees in programs designed to enhance personal safety and well-being, we deploy a series of interactive multimedia training programs covering a variety of topics, such as ergonomics, personal security and incident reporting. These Web-based programs are designed to provide timely and efficient messaging to field and office employees and help maintain a steady level of EHS awareness across the commercial organizations.

To ensure ongoing compliance with internal Abbott Global EHS Management and Technical Standards, Abbott EHS professionals also provide formal on-site EHS gap assessments across international affiliates. During these assessments, commercial leaders are provided with a wide range of compliance tools and implementation resources designed to ensure sustainable compliance and program improvement.

Further demonstrating the importance of health and safety in our commercial teams, we promote an annual Commercial EHS Program of the Year campaign to showcase best practices and provide internal recognition for organizations that demonstrate strong leadership. To qualify, each commercial organization must participate in a rigorous review process, consisting of a formal self-assessment, review by Global EHS Commercial staff and detailed review of documentation on the organization’s fleet safety programs and standards, ergonomics, environmental activities and health and wellness programs.

Occupational Health

Complementing our focus on accident prevention and safety education, our occupational health team plays an important role in promoting the health and productivity of all Abbott employees. Occupational health staff serve as integral members of the Executive Crisis Management team on all issues related to employee health. Among other responsibilities, the team monitors the spread of infectious diseases such as avian influenza and develops proactive preventive health strategies for Abbott work sites. The team also plays a critical role in assessing potential health impacts of natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012 – and developing appropriate preparedness plans for employees and customers at both the global and local levels.


Historically, the field of occupational health focused largely on preventing workplace injuries, along with conducting preventive medical surveillance to ensure the safety of workers whose jobs entailed exposure to health risks such as loud noise or potentially hazardous chemicals. These basic occupational health activities are still performed at Abbott, but increasingly the definition of occupational health has expanded to include a wide range of innovative programs that emphasize preventative care and take a holistic perspective on workforce health.

In all, more than 54,000 employees around the world benefited from a wide variety of health promotion activities in 2012. Some of the more popular types of health promotions included:

  • Influenza vaccinations – 5,671 employee participants
  • Blood drive – 1,781 participants
  • First aid training – 1,240 participants
  • Automated external defibrillator (AED) training – 1,243 participants
  • CPR training – 1,157 participants

Data demonstrates that these training initiatives not only ensure appropriate training, but also save lives. Since 2002, our AED and CPR programs are believed to have saved at least nine lives at Abbott facilities worldwide.

To ensure that our employees receive the best possible occupational health care, our Global Occupational Health Services organization also offers a scholarship program to fund advanced training for occupational health physicians and nurses at our facilities. In 2012, we awarded scholarships to two nurses in the U.S. and a physician in Spain.

Global Health Scorecard

In early 2011, we launched a new Global Health Scorecard to monitor each work site’s performance on key occupational health measures and to identify areas for improvement. The scorecard is an important internal tool to help measure progress against our goal of optimizing employee health offerings at all our manufacturing sites worldwide by 2015.

The scorecard ranks sites according to how many targets they have reached from a menu of 15 global health offerings. In 2012, 93 percent of our manufacturing sites met the target for the year with 47 percent of these sites already at the 2015 target. In order to maintain or reach the top level in 2013 and subsequent years, sites will need to improve their performance in additional health indicators such as achieving a nonsmoking campus, making healthy food options available in the cafeteria on a daily basis, offering seasonal influenza vaccinations on-site, holding a health fair, and providing employees access to physical activity at a fitness center and/or walking trail.

Core Requirements Health Offerings
  1. T22 EHS Technical Standard
    1. DHCP
    2. Medical Surveillance
    3. Tx of WR Injuries
    4. Onsite Clinical Testing
  2. T22-01-012 International Business Travel
  3. T22-01-029 AED
  4. T22-01-030 Medical Records
  1. Non-Smoking Campus
  2. Health Food Options Cafeteria
  3. Health Food Options Vending
  4. EAP
  5. Access to Physical Activity
  6. Flu Vaccinations
  7. Flu Prevention Education
  8. Health Screening
  9. Health Education
  10. Stress Management
  11. Health Fair

Note: All data reflects Abbott activities in 2012. Some content has been adjusted to remove data specific to AbbVie, which became a separate company on Jan. 1, 2013.