The word accident is not in the vocabulary of Lafarge, a major player in the UK construction sector.
Instead it opts for the word incident as it works toward a culture of ‘zero harm’.
In 2007, Lafarge CEO Bruno Lafont declared: “When it comes to safety, I believe the only acceptable number is zero.”
On the road, in the office or on site, Lafarge, the world’s largest cement producer and respectively the second and fourth largest producer of aggregates and concrete to the construction industry, aims to reach zero fatalities and virtually eliminate lost-time incidents by 2020.
A lost-time incident refers to an incident where an employee is unable to return to work the following day.
Last year two lost-time incidents were recorded across the UK business and in 2012 two were recorded in the first two months of the year with none recorded in the second quarter
Three months with no lost-time incidents recorded is rewarded with an extra day’s holiday for all employees.
With health and safety a core facet of Lafarge’s DNA, a comprehensive driver training programme has been introduced for its 300 van drivers, almost exclusively employed within the Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK business.
But for Nick Elliott, national transport manager at Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK, the programme is not about teaching employees to drive, but about supporting an ongoing safety-driven business-wide cultural change.
New vans used to be delivered on site to drivers with no formal handover procedure.
Today, drivers have to make their current vehicle available for inspection at the company’s Leicestershire headquarters, prior to receiving the keys to their new van.
The official handover also includes a briefing on special features in the new van and an explanation of how the company expects the vehicle to be treated.
Elliott says: “We want to help drivers understand their responsibilities and show them that, as a business, we care about them and the vans they drive. The process has been running for almost 12 months and it is very successful.
"For some employees it means a round trip of 200 miles or more, but it is part of cultural change. For many people, their company car is their pride and joy, but that is not necessarily true among people who drive vans.”
For more than eight years Lafarge has insisted on a reverse park only policy in company car parks so that employees can see clearly when they exit the space into a live lane.
It has, Elliott said, become so much part of the company culture that if an employee forward parks a colleague will pick them up on the manoeuvre.