While there seems to have been a general improvement in health and safety standards in the tire and rubber industries over recent years, the situation is blurred by wide variations in how performance in this vital area is reported by major players in the sector.
Corporate and social responsibility reports from leading tire and rubber companies, reveal a raft of impressive plans underway, backed by approvals from various independent certification bodies. These typically include zero-accident strategies and initiatives around everything from safety leadership and employee-engagement to safe-lifting and recording of near misses.
But, perhaps, the best guide to a company's performance in this area is the quality of its systems for monitoring safety and the transparency of its reporting—thereby making safety an issue for all stakeholders in a group, from employees to investors.
A look at reporting by a sample cross-section of major companies shows substantial differences in the way health and safety is monitored around the world. Moreover, there is little evidence of standardization in reporting that could help improve safety across the industry.
One of the more informative companies is Pirelli, which reported an accident frequency index of 0.48 in 2015, a reduction of 6 percent compared to 2014 and 73 percent compared to 2009. The tire maker has a stated target to reduce this index by 90 percent by 2020 compared to 2009.
Pirelli also issues an accident severity index for the group, which in 2015 was 0.16, substantially in line with the 2014 figure and slightly below the 0.18 level recorded for 2013.
Pirelli reported two fatalities among its employees in 2015: one at its operating unit in Yanzhou, China, one at the operating unit in ATCO, Egypt. This compares with zero fatalities recorded in the previous two years.
Interestingly, Pirelli's Europe and Latin America operations had higher accident-frequency and accident-severity rates than the those in other geographical areas where Pirelli operates—Africa, Asia, North America and Oceania. This was despite a relatively high number of commuting accidents related to road safety short-comings in emerging countries.
The AFI related to employees of external companies operating at the premises of Pirelli amounted to 0.37. The figure, which was below the average of the group as a whole, was down from a value of 0.52 in 2014.