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

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Accidents per million hours worked in 2018

We report safety data from October to September. Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate (TRFR) from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2018 was 0.69 accidents per million hours worked (compared to 0.89 the previous year). This is the lowest rate we’ve ever achieved.

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

Accident rates 1998–2018



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 has been independently assured by PwC. The other is the number of fatal accidents, which is described below.

We work hard to ensure that everyone working for Unilever understands the procedures and policies we’ve put in place to prevent fatal accidents, and we share the lessons learnt across the business.

Fatal accidents 1998–2018



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 51% reduction in LTIFR for these contractors since 2014. See Making our safety vision a reality.

Lost-Time Injuries Frequency Rate 2014–2018

Direct employees0.510.590.510.530.37

Some of our sites are achieving zero recordable injuries on an ongoing basis. For example, our Phoenix aerosol factory in South Africa is rated a Major Hazardous Installation under South African law due to the nature and quantity of the substances it processes (namely liquid petroleum gas). But since first opening its doors in 1990, it’s had no recordable injuries.

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

In 2018 we started to see the positive effect of our actions as our OIFR improved to 0.58 ill health cases per million hours worked. This result was validated by Health Improvement Solutions, a specialist health consultancy. See Our employee health programme.

Occupational Illness Frequency Rate 2014–2018

Direct employees0.540.530.600.780.58
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