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Safety at work

We want to grow our business responsibly. That means safety is not negotiable – it is our number one priority.

A group of HUL employees at one of the Companies factory sites pledging for safety.

Safety: a human right at the heart of our business

We are committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees as part of Unilever Code Policy on Occupational Health & Safety which forms part of our Code of Business Principles (PDF 8.55 MB).

Our Safety & Health Policy is also derived from the above code keeping in mind the local context. Besides this, our safety standards are also based on mandatory requirements which align with the obligations set out in the international standard for occupational health and safety management, ISO (International Standards Organisation) 45001. All standards and guidelines are available to our employees on our intranet. Our Code of Business Principles is reviewed regularly, and along with our employees, we expect all others who work with us to follow the principles set out.

Our leaders are responsible for cascading and implementing occupational health and safety among their direct reports and third parties within their remit. We also expect all employees to take responsibility for their safety and those around them by acting in accordance with our Codes. We also share similar values for safety with our partners and support in building their capabilities in this area.

If an employee is in breach of our safety standards or procedures, cases are dealt with fairly and objectively. We can take a range of disciplinary actions against those responsible for poor safety oversight, including dismissal in the most serious cases.

A culture of safety

We take deliberate action to continuously instil a culture of safety across the business.

SHE (Safety, Health & Environment) governance at the top is driven through the Central Safety, Health and Environment Committee which is chaired by our MD & CEO. This is further sub-divided into eight sub-committees, each led by a Management Committee member. These sub-committees drive focus agenda covering various aspects of SHE.

Our Safety Moments programme helps leaders to reinforce safety principles in their teams and demonstrate their accountability for safety standards – ensuring that our leaders can ‘walk the talk’ on safety.

A safety moment can take many forms within our business, from organisation-wide pledges to small reflection groups, where employees can openly discuss safety processes in the workplace. We want to create a culture where everyone feels able to intervene in the interests of safety.

All our safety guidance is built into our Unilever Manufacturing System. Manufacturing sites develop individual plans that drive improvements based on their particular risk profile – such as hazardous substances, and electrical or mechanical risks. This helps to build a strong and interdependent safety culture across all levels of our organisation, all under one framework.

Recognising safety best practice

Unilever Global Premier Safety Award winner for 2022 was R&D (Research & Development) in Mumbai, for their success in using digital solutions to drive an improved safety culture.

Externally, our Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) Director for South Asia won Leader of the Year for her contribution to SHE in the Indian Occupational Safety and Health organisation awards.

During FY 2022-23, our factory in Haridwar was awarded the ‘OHSSAI Gold Award’, while our factories in Orai and Kolkata were awarded the ‘OHSSAI Silver Award’ for OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) excellence in the Manufacturing sector. Besides this, our R&D centres in Mumbai and Bengaluru were also recognised by the National Safety Council for their exceptional safety performance and culture.

an image of a group of HUL employees receiving an award for top class safety at HUL

Making the roads safer for everyone

Safe Travel continues to be the highest risk activity involving Unilever employees, third-party suppliers, and members of the public. It is a priority area for us where we have taken several initiatives.

We have strengthened our Safe Travel policy which covers all vehicles purchased or leased by Unilever and all privately owned vehicles driven by our employees on Unilever business. It stipulates the use of telematic devices in our own vehicles to monitor driver behaviour in real time. We believe this is an effective way of reducing road-related incidents and we encourage our business partners to adopt the same measures.

On-site, in our factories and across our depots, we have set up ‘Driver Management centres which are facilitating driver trainings, driver briefing on route risk, vehicle fitness checks, etc. This will ensure 100% of transporters working for HUL will be compliant to stringent safety standards. Improving road safety also includes working with partners outside of Unilever to advocate for a safer working environment and society.

In 2022, a coalition between Unilever, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and other leading organisations developed a Commercial Vehicle Code of Conduct to reduce the rise in fatal road accidents in India.

The new Code of Conduct marked a significant moment in our commitment to tackling country-specific road safety challenges. It was the first time that our business stepped outside its operational boundaries to collaborate on road safety with like-minded organisations.

an image with a truck on road that reads ‘FICCI Industry code of conduct for commercial vehicle.

Contractor safety

In the same way as we are focused on providing safer working conditions for our employees, we are equally committed to providing safer environments for our contracting partners on our sites.

Over the last few years, we have strengthened our Construction Safety Programme with initiatives including Construction Safety Standards improvements, Capability Building Workshops, and the deployment of Global Construction Safety Tools.

Training for everyone, no matter what their role

For factory employees, safety training starts before they begin their roles. We have a behaviour-based safety programme which is designed to build knowledge and ensure that all employees are committed to strengthening our safety culture.

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