The concern for our employees’ welfare is not limited to their safety, but also includes their general health.
Therefore, ArcelorMittal Gent is putting in considerable efforts to improve their employees’ health and raise their level of attendance. For years now, we have been conducting an active health policy on three levels: prevent illness and stimulate health, detect illness early and have been monitoring absentees to ensure active reintegration.
Measures to prevent illness are the most important pillar of the ArcelorMittal Gent health policy. We organise, for instance, a course in lifting techniques in order to prevent back injuries and gives practical tips to employees who frequently work with viewing screens. We also focus on hearing protection and anyone who comes in contact with chemical products is trained to deal with them safely.
Your health is not only important at work, but also in your everyday life. For this reason, we regularly organise activities to encourage a healthy life style and make everyone aware of the risks outside work. Smoking is a good example: we do not only campaign against smoking, but also offer our employees programmes to stop smoking. Besides that, campaigns are running to prevent alcohol and drug abuse and every year the company offers its employees flu vaccinations.
However, good health often starts with healthy nutrition. New employees receive basic training in which the principles of healthy food are explained. In the company restaurant everyone can enjoy healthy meals, thanks to the Fit Label. All of these are just a few examples of what our health policy really means.
Most employees are asked once a year to visit our medical service. Next to several basic tests, like taking blood pressure or determining weight, more thorough examinations are held (a hearing test, a visual test, X-rays, a lung function test, an electrocardiogram). The visit always ends with a chat with the doctor, who gives employees useful health tips.
Our company makes a lot of effort to stimulate the reintegration process of long-term absentees as much as possible. Sick or injured employees can, for example, get in touch with the company doctor and discuss their options. Sometimes it is temporarily impossible for someone with a physical injury to continue his/her daily job, but there is a possibility for alternative employment. This way people remain actively involved with the company without jeopardising their health.
ArcelorMittal Gent, a healthy company!
One back does all the work
Our health policy seems to work: since 2000, the level of absenteeism at ArcelorMittal Gent has declined by over 25%.
ArcelorMittal Gent distinctly lays the stress on preventing back complaints. The prevention campaign “One back does all the work” fits in with the TPM-philosophy and is conducted in association with Prevent, an external agency dealing with the prevention of professional hazards.
The prevention campaign consists of two steps: first, an instructor explains how the human back is structured en what could cause stress by means of a video. Afterwards, the instructor shows the employees in their own departments how they can spare their backs by observing a few basic rules. These employees in turn spread their knowledge on the subject.
We do not only offer training on the theme of back problems, but also make specific investments for preventing back complaints. One example was the purchase of the converter brick manipulator system.
Five times a year, the refractory wall of the converter in the steel shop needs to be replaced. This is done by demolishing the old wall and erecting a new one in refractory bricks, which can weigh up to 60 kg each. Whereas formerly the bricklayers had to place the bricks into the right position manually, it is now the converter brick manipulator system that bears the weight of the bricks. Not only does this mean less loading on the bricklayers’ backs, but it also reduces the risk of accidents.
Our company strongly advises against smoking, of course. Within the company posters have been spread to raise awareness among smokers and non-smokers and informational flyers are available at any time at the medical service. Furthermore, we offer employees a support programme to stop smoking.
First of all, employees receive a brochure which describes at length what possibilities and aids there are. Once they are convinced, they can make an appointment with one of the company nurses to get more information and to draw up a plan of action, step by step. They do not only stop smoking – thanks to a nicotine patch therapy – but they can turn to the medical staff for advice at any time. Even after the therapy is finished, this contact remains and there is sufficient follow-up.
Since 2004, over 250 ArcelorMittal Gent employees have started the programme.
Alcohol & drugs prevention
In consultation with the Committee for Prevention and Protection, we have taken measures to diminish alcohol and drug abuse and its consequences as much as possible. Through safety talks and the personnel magazine employees are fully informed about the risks of alcohol and drug abuse. Superiors receive additional training to recognise alcohol and drug problems on time and employees exercising a safety function are submitted to screening tests, to detect problematic use early. Furthermore, the medical service is always at hand to help employees with their questions about the use of alcohol, drugs and narcotics.
Since 2000 all ArcelorMittal Gent employees get the chance of being vaccinated against the flu. In comparison with other companies, our turnout is reasonably large. More than 20% or some 1,300 people sign up for it every year. This way, the flu does no longer interfere with work or with family time.
The company medical service is part of the internal prevention department and is responsible for medical investigations, First Aid, safety goggles and prevention and health policy.
The doctors are responsible for consultations, medical investigations, ergonomics and job hygiene. The nurses all have specific responsibilities (sound measuring, dangerous products …), next to their general tasks like distributing and adapting safety goggles.
Just like in other domains, in medicine it is important to keep up with new evolutions. That is why ArcelorMittal Gent has paid particular attention to implementing new international guidelines for urgent assistance in training the emergency staff and first aid officers.