Monitoring our safety performance

Monitoring our performance closely and publishing the results helps us keep track of our progress and identify areas where we need to increase our efforts.

Factory workers

Monitoring our accident rates

Worker icon

Accidents per million hours worked in 2019˄†

We report safety data from 1 October to 30 September. Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate (TRFR) ending 30 September 2019 was marginally up to 0.76˄† accidents per million hours worked (versus 0.69 the previous year which was our lowest rate to date).

Our 2019 TRFR includes for the first time new acquisitions which operate as decentralised business units. After a spike in the first six months when injury rates went up (partly due to the inclusion of decentralised business units), we achieved a substantial incident rate reduction, in line with our year-on-year declining trend. 

Our performance meets our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) target of halving our 2008 TRFR of 2.10. But we’re committed to exceeding that target through our Vision Zero strategy, and we’re continuing to seek improvements that make people safer.

˄ 2019 TRFR includes for the first time new acquisitions that operate as decentralised business units; had we included these in 2017 and 2018, our reported TRFR would have been approximately 6% higher in each year

 Independently assured by PwC

Accident rates 1998–2019



The chart above shows our preferred accident rate indicator for reporting – TRFR – over the period 2003–2018. While we no longer use Accident Frequency Rate (AFR) for reporting purposes, an earlier trend is presented here for comparison.

As a consequence of improving our safety performance over many years, in 2009 we decided to increase the denominator we use to calculate TRFR from 100,000 to 1,000,000 hours. So we have re-stated the chart using this new, higher factor which has had the effect of increasing our current and historical TRFR data by a factor of 10. In 2013 we adjusted our reporting period from 1 January–31 December to 1 October–30 September. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has assured our TRFR from 2014 onwards. See Independent assurance and our metrics.

TRFR is one of two occupational safety performance indicators that have been independently assured by PwC.

The other indicator is the number of fatal accidents.

Total Recordable Frequency Rate (TRFR)

TRFR measures the number of occupational accidents per one million hours worked. It is defined as all workplace accidents, excluding only those that require simple first-aid treatment.

TRFR is calculated as the sum of all lost‐time accidents (LTA) plus restricted work cases (RWC) plus medical treatment cases (MTC) expressed as a rate per one million hours worked.

In line with industry best practice, we include in our definition of an ‘employee’, temporary staff and contractors who work under our direct supervision.

We capture TRFR for all Unilever manufacturing and non-manufacturing sites (offices, research laboratories) and report and assure it from 1 October to 30 September each year.

For more detail, see our annual Basis of Preparation at Independent assurance and our metrics.

Fatal accidents 1998–2019



In 2013 we adjusted our reporting period from 1 January–31 December to 1 October–30 September. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has assured from 2014 onwards. See Independent assurance and our metrics.

Monitoring our injury rates

Alongside tracking accidents, it’s vital we understand the frequency and nature of the injuries these accidents can cause. Our Airsweb reporting system helps us collect more granular data on our Lost-Time Injuries Frequency Rate.

Lost-Time Injuries Frequency Rate (LTIFR)

LTIFR measures injuries per million hours worked. It counts all ‘lost-time’ safety injuries, ie injuries that keep people away from work.

We measure LTIFR for all our direct employees and all the contractors who work under our direct supervision (for the year 1 October to 30 September).

Since 2014 we’ve also used Airsweb to help us deliver another pillar of our safety programme: improved safety for those contractors who work on our sites but are not directly supervised by Unilever (this includes both project contractors and business support contractors). This has resulted in a 48% reduction in LTIFR for these contractors during 2014–2019. See Making our safety vision a reality.

Lost-Time Injuries Frequency Rate 2014−2019

Direct employees0.510.590.510.530.370.38

Monitoring occupational illnesses

Our World Class Manufacturing and Occupational Health teams work together to make our factories and offices healthy places to work. Our programmes cover the prevention of work-related illness and occupational diseases, ergonomics, environmental health and protection from noise and enzymes.

Occupational Illness Frequency Rate (OIFR)

We track occupational illnesses for our employees under the criteria laid down by the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Using the Occupational Illness Frequency Rate (OIFR), we measure the number of work-related ill health cases per million hours worked for all our direct employees (from 1 January to 31 December each year). (We do not measure this for contractors or the temporary staff we call ‘contingent labour’.)

OIFR generally increased over 2014-2017, prompted by two factors. The first was the changes we made to our in-house reporting systems to enable better data collection. The second was an increase in employee awareness and reporting of mental health issues in particular, driven by our communication campaigns and training.

Occupational Illness Frequency Rate 2014−2019

Direct employees0.540.530.600.780.580.58

In 2018-2019 we were pleased to see a steady decline in the intensity of our OIFR. While the rate stayed at 0.58 cases per million hours worked, overall, employees in 2019 showed less severe illnesses arising from factors such as exposure to enzymes, noise or respiratory sensitisation. This result was validated by Health Improvement Solutions, a specialist health consultancy. See Our health and well-being programmes in action.