Protecting and promoting employees’ health is not only an obligation on us as an employer but also a reflection of our corporate culture. At the same time, occupational health is an economic necessity, making us more attractive as an employer and helping to safeguard our future. It is also an important step towards attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Protecting and promoting employees’ health is a priority for the Company, shared by both management and employee representatives.
Protecting and promoting employees’ health is also a forward-looking and sustainable human resources tool and forms part of our human resources and organizational development. It is an integral part of our personnel management policy and is anchored in our general corporate strategy. The Volkswagen Group’s integrated approach to health management goes well beyond traditional preventive healthcare and occupational safety and also includes aspects such as work organization, ergonomics, preventive programs, integration and rehabilitation, leadership styles, and prospects for each individual.
Occupational Safety and Health Protection Policy
The Group has an “Occupational Safety and Health Protection in the Volkswagen Group” policy that applies to all brands and companies and sets out underlying goals, responsibilities and standards in relation to occupational safety and health protection. Another document, the “Guidelines on Health Protection and Health Promotion in the Volkswagen Group” (a supplement to the corporate policy, which includes concrete examples), has also been brought up to date.
The Volkswagen Group sets the same standards for work organization, occupational safety and healthcare for its employees no matter where in the world it operates, taking account of the local medical infrastructure and the local legislative framework in each case. Compliance with these globally applicable standards is monitored through audits conducted across the Group.
The Group continues to place a high priority on improving workplace ergonomics. Our aim is to keep our employees fit and healthy throughout their working lives. The Volkswagen brand uses a workplace management system to ensure that workplace demands match individual employees’ physical capacity. This means that employees can be deployed in jobs that optimally reflect their capabilities, enhancing job satisfaction and ensuring a healthy transition to retirement.
At the same time, Volkswagen is making improvements throughout the product development process to ensure that workplace quality and the physical demands placed on employees by production processes are taken into account right from the planning and design stages of new models. This involves using both research and practical experience to combine state-of-the-art ergonomic workplaces with innovative work processes. “Ergo assistants” on the production lines give employees advice and guidance directly at their workstations on how they can perform more ergonomically and consequently modify their behavior.
The Group Ergonomic Report, published for the first time in 2015, also creates transparency about the strategies and methodological approaches used by brands and regions, and publishes available data. In the future, the Group Ergonomic Report will provide a summary of Group-wide information at least once a year.
A handbook underpinning a standardized approach to ergonomics in the product development process, known by its German acronym, “PEP”, defines the ergonomic demands of new projects on the basis of product- and process-specific goals, reflecting demographic trends within the workforce and helping delineate future workplace design.
Minimum methodological standards for the ergonomic assessment of workplaces in logistics were defined and distributed. They will be refined in 2016, and the ergonomic assessment of logistics workplaces will be piloted and rolled out. Another project successfully brought to fruition in 2015 was the force measurement project for standardizing the measurement of thrust forces. The outcomes of the project include agreed measurement regulations and “Force Catalog 2.0”. Work is currently under way on translating the findings into practice.
2015 saw an ergonomics campaign at ŠKODA AUTO. The Ergonomic Assessment Worksheet (EAWS), now standard across the Group, was introduced, and the ergonomic assessment of systems was piloted on one assembly line using the ”AP Ergo“ system based on the EAWS. A particular milestone for ergonomics experts was the establishment of the Occupational Physiology Laboratory, which is certified to evaluate physical stress. A new project relating to the psychological evaluation of jobs was also launched in 2015.
Developments at Sitech took a different direction. As part of the health management program at Sitech Spółka z o.o. in Poland, the plant analyzed the age-appropriateness and ergonomic profile of workstations with the aim of improving employees’ health and preventing occupational disease. With support from physiotherapists and an occupational medicine specialist, it has offered employees age-appropriate jobs.
A new human/robot cooperation system was introduced at Audi in Ingolstadt in 2015. Robots work hand in hand with their human partners and adjust to their pace of work. This is the first human/robot partnership in the Volkswagen Group and is used for final assembly work. It enables the factory to automate strenuous routine tasks and to optimize workstations that are ergonomically unfavorable.
The Checkup, a free, comprehensive health screening program for all employees, is now established as standard at our German sites. It helps maintain and improve employees’ health and performance and keep them fit. Employees appreciate its high diagnostic quality and the follow-up preventive health and training programs.
In addition, the Checkup has now been rolled out to almost all international sites. Other preventive healthcare programs have been brought into line with Group-wide standards. In some cases, country-specific supplementary examinations such as HIV and tuberculosis tests have been added.
Checkups within the Volkswagen Group, 20151
|Volkswagen AG Germany, FS AG, VOW, VWS||17,251|
|Audi, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Mexico||11,199|
|MAN Truck & Bus, Germany||1,230|
|MAN Diesel Turbo, Germany and international||926|
|ŠKODA, Czech Republic, India||18,533|
|Automobili Lamborghini, Italy||59|
|Volkswagen do Brasil, Brazil||600|
|Volkswagen de México, Mexico||4,070|
|Volkswagen Group of America, USA||744|
|Volkswagen Autoeuropa, Portugal||2,144|
|Volkswagen Navarra, Spain||2,628|
|Volkswagen Poznań, Poland||1,553|
|Volkswagen Group Rus, Russia||3,453|
|Volkswagen of South Africa, South Africa||1,696|
|Volkswagen India, India2||3,447|
|1 Initial and follow-up Checkups.
2 Checkups are not wholly in line with the Group standard.
Healthy meal concepts and a wide variety of sports and leisure activities – from the weight loss and healthy eating campaign at Volkswagen in South Africa to company running events at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Hanover – complement the holistic approach to health management in the Volkswagen Group. In addition to the Checkup, ŠKODA introduced a new “Healthy Living Week” in 2015. The extensive range of medical checks and special healthy living programs was very well received by the workforce. In recognition of its preventive healthcare and health promotion activities, ŠKODA received the “Health Promoting Enterprise” award from the Czech Ministry of Health.
In September 2015, SEAT became the first company in Spain’s automotive sector to be awarded the sought-after “Healthy Company” certificate by the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR) in recognition of the high quality of its health management system.
Around 1,200 employees benefited from the “Home Care” program at Volkswagen do Brasil in 2015. The program targets employees of all age groups with chronic conditions requiring long-term care. As well as medical care, those who request it are also entitled to appropriate outpatient care. The “AIDS Care” program focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention, monitoring and rehabilitation. In addition to medical care for those who are infected or have symptoms, AIDS Care prioritizes their integration into society and the working environment. In 2015, around 200 employees and their families took part in this program. Meanwhile, around 15,000 employees at Volkswagen do Brasil were given free influenza vaccinations.
At Volkswagen Motor Polska, the rehabilitation center within the plant was inaugurated in March of the reporting year. The center offers more than 1,200 employees programs for preventing and treating musculoskeletal impairment. Volkswagen Motor Polska has set itself three goals – prevention, cure and education – to help keep employees fit and healthy in this area.
At Scania in India, in 2015 the focus was on a very different project – reducing undernutrition and malnutrition among women. The company is supporting a special nutrition program. In South Africa, meanwhile, Scania is campaigning to stop the further spread of HIV/AIDS. The company has launched health programs for its employees, for truck and bus drivers and for the local population. The campaigns are aimed at reducing the number of new cases of HIV infection.
2015 saw a major step forward in the area of health communications in China, with information about health programs and processes at Shanghai Volkswagen made available not just via the intranet and employee handbooks, but also via a smartphone app. The Employee Assistance Project (EAP), which provides psychological support, was also rolled out at the new sites in Ningbo and Changsha.
Further Improvements in Occupational Safety Management
Back in 2004, the Volkswagen Group established a mandatory occupational safety policy for all Group sites around the world. Maintaining and promoting employees’ health and performance is crucial to our operations and therefore forms part of our corporate goals.
On the basis of the Group’s own occupational safety management system (KAMS), which was introduced in 2010, all Group companies involved have analyzed their existing safety structures and processes. The findings are available across the Group in a central database. During the reporting year, a total of seven Group audits were carried out, with examples of best practice shared systematically across the Volkswagen Group.
Since the end of 2012, KAMS has been audited at 17 sites around the world. The audit involves a documentary check, along with on-the-spot surveys and interviews with employees at all levels of the hierarchy. Audit teams use standard parameters to assess whether the system requirements are being implemented in each location. The findings are compiled into a report on the strengths and areas for improvement of each element in the KAMS system.
To improve sharing of information, the Group coordinates notifications of serious and fatal accidents. The aim is to harmonize analysis of the circumstances surrounding such accidents across brands and to facilitate measures to prevent such accidents in the future.
Occupational Safety Training Expanded
Since 2009, we have offered a redesigned qualification for occupational safety officers at Volkswagen sites in Germany. Since 2012, Volkswagen in Germany has also been running mandatory occupational safety modules for all future managers. The qualification modules for future group leaders have also been standardized and now form a mandatory part of the group leader training program.
Award-Winning Occupational Safety
2015 saw the annual Occupational Safety Cup competition for Volkswagen brand and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles sites in Europe. The Cup for the safest site went to the Bratislava plant in Slovakia, where a wide range of occupational safety measures have helped reduce the frequency of accidents and the resulting pressure on employees and systems.
Company Medical Services and Emergency Situation Management
Medical services and healthcare for our employees are in line with national legislation and internal regulations as well as with Group guidelines on protecting and promoting health. All Group sites have at least emergency health provision, while most offer medical services under the oversight of a physician.
In many sites, we offer a tailored rehabilitation program to reintegrate employees after serious and/or long-term illness, providing early intervention and job-related support. The aim is to stabilize or restore the employee’s capacity and performance ability within three to six months.
Depending on the particular needs in each case, the program may also include preventive provision. Examples here are “JobReha” (one to three weeks of outpatient, day patient or inpatient measures focused on the problem zones in the locomotor system) and the “RehaFit” program, which focuses on orthopedic and psychological rehabilitation. Other examples include physiotherapy provision and individual or general rehabilitation training at in-house training centers. Support and mentoring provision for employees with mental health or psychosomatic problems are also being steadily expanded.
We act responsibly toward employees who are going through personal difficulties. Our Integration Management and Social Services department has developed workplace counseling to provide special support for employees’ employability and job satisfaction. Workplace counseling is one of the three pillars of the department, which forms part of the Human Resources function at Wolfsburg.
Among other things, workplace counseling provides advice on psychosocial problems, mental or emotional stress, and conflict in private or professional contexts. Workplace counselors can also advise on financial problems, addiction and bereavement. Eight workplace counselors are available at the Wolfsburg plant.
These workplace counselors have specialist qualifications in areas such as social pedagogy or psychology and additional qualifications in areas including systemic coaching, addiction counselling and mediation.
All Volkswagen AG employees can access workplace counseling, regardless of job or employment status. Our workplace counselors also provide advice to employees at a number of our subsidiaries. The exact pattern of support depends on the client’s needs. Once client and counselor have identified priorities and set goals, they work together on possible solutions and specific remedial actions. The tailored solutions devised for each client are then monitored during a follow-up phase.
The workplace counselors cooperate closely with internal and external network partners. Collaboration with in-house networks, such as staff from the operational HR function and the medical service, works council, trade union representatives and line managers, enables help to be given rapidly and smoothly. External network partners include local clinics and therapists, health insurance providers, advisory services and self-help groups.
In 2015, 3,665 employees took advantage of the workplace counseling program, most of them seeking help with psychosocial problems, including personal crises. The issues with which employees seek help, and the extent to which these are reflected in workplace counseling provision, also reflect wider social trends. Over recent years, for example, the number of requests for support has risen steadily across all problem areas, making the preventive aspect of workplace counseling increasingly important. In 2015, there were 158 information and prevention events, a record number.