Safety and health

A position paper issued by the World Steel Association

Nothing is more important than the safety and health of the people who work in the steel industry.

Protecting the safety and health of everyone who works in or around the steel industry is of vital importance to all our members. The duty of care and social responsibility demands that everyone is able to work in a safe and healthy work environment. The World Steel Association (worldsteel)  provides up-to-date guidance, data, processes and procedures freely available to members to help the steel industry deliver on its key mission to eliminate accidents and manage working environments with the highest standards of safety and health conditions.

Safety data collected from our membership from 2004 to 2014 show that the steel industry has seen a steady and notable reduction in the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) over the past decade. The injury rate per million hours worked has decreased from 4.81 in  2004 to 1.39 in 2014, a reduction of 71%.

* A Lost Time Injury (LTI) is an incident that causes an injury that prevents the person from returning to his next scheduled shift or work
   period. Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) is the number of Lost Time Injuries per million man-hours. LTIFR includes fatalities.

Whilst safety in the steel industry has improved considerably, the ‘zero’ goal - an injury-free and healthy workplace - remains our ultimate target.


worldsteel safety and health commitment and principles

"Nothing is more important than the safety and health of the people who work in the steel industry." This commitment, strongly endorsed by the Worldsteel Board of Directors, is accompanied by a set of six principles. worldsteel has published practical guidelines to help companies implement the six principles. Accurate definitions for all safety metrics ensure the harmonisation of the measurements, results and analysis.


Safety and health programme

worldsteel's policy is to help its members achieve an accident-free workplace. worldsteel's Safety and Health Committee provides expert guidance to achieve this goal through a series of activities:

Safety and health metrics survey
Measuring performance is one aspect of achieving good safety and health standards. worldsteel encourages all of its member companies to participate in the safety performance data collection and report as accurate information as possible. This information not only concerns the number of incidents that occur (number of fatalities, lost time injuries, medical treatment incidents, first aid incidents, near misses or safety deviations) but also all the actions taken to avoid further similar incidents. The metrics allow organisations to identify areas that need improvement and benefit from the strong support of their peers in the industry to share their knowledge.

Safety and health guidance notes
There are a number of safety and health best practice examples and guidance notes on specific topics available from worldsteel. Provided by industry safety managers and based on actual working practice these can be utilised in any plant or company to prevent serious safety incidents.

Safety and health excellence recognition
A good practice or a good idea that works well in one plant can also be a success in another plant and prevent injuries and save lives. worldsteel's Safety and Health Committee recognises each year member companies that are actively working to improve safety and health within the steel industry. Since 2008, more than 30 examples of best practice have been recognised and made available to the whole industry. An additional 200 submissions are available online for members to consult and reuse within their own premises.

Safety workshops
The safety workshops allow people to meet face to face to discuss and exchange best practices. worldsteel provides specific safety workshops around the world, particularly in China where almost 50% of steel is produced.

Serious safety occurrences sharing
If an incident occurs, there is an enormous amount of knowledge to be gained from reviewing the causes and actions taken to prevent a re-occurrence. worldsteel promotes the sharing of safety serious occurrences between its members in order to avoid a repeat of similar incidents worldwide. worldsteel members can share safety serious occurrences online and exchange questions and answers on a safety forum.

Shop floor safety audits
worldsteel performs shop floor safety audits or safety observation activities upon request. This allows members and non-members alike to develop their own observation and audit programmes.

Steel Safety Day
Steel Safety Day is aligned with the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Ahead of the day, scheduled every year on 28 April, worldsteel asks all its members to carry out a special safety audit on the five most common causes of serious safety incidents. These are - moving machinery, falling from heights, falling objects, gas & asphyxiation, and overhead cranes.


Leadership - key to a safe and healthy working environment

A strong and visible commitment from the very top of the company shared by all levels of management is essential to achieve a healthy accident-free workplace.

Steel companies that have the best safety records are those whose chief executives are held accountable by the board of directors for the safety and health of all people working on their sites, employees and contractors alike, and where all levels of management are actively involved and support a safe and healthy approach to work on the shop floor. By leading safety and health initiatives consistently, management is able to demonstrate commitment, set uncompromising safety standards, and follow up on

It is the responsibility of management to ensure that all employees and contractors are trained and receive the tools and guidelines to work safely.


International standards for safety and health in the workplace

Most countries have their own legislation on occupational safety and health which must always be respected. Many steelmakers also follow international standards on occupational health and safety management.

The most commonly used international standard on occupational health and safety management systems is OHSAS 18001. A new international standard, ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems, is to be published shortly. Compliance
with these standards demonstrates a company’s commitment to continually check and improve its safety and health performance. An occupational health and safety management system is often combined with similar management systems such as Environment Management System (ISO 14001) and Quality Management System (ISO 9001).

The standards and systems applied by worldsteel and most steelmakers exceed the minimum legal requirements. As a rule steelmakers choose to adopt the highest standard available within the industry.


Steel Safety Day

Established in 2014, Steel Safety Day was set up to reinforce awareness of the top five causes of serious incidents and to create a safer working environment across the entire global steel industry. By focusing on the five causes - moving machinery, falling from heights, falling objects, gas & asphyxiation, and overhead cranes - worldsteel intends to set up a continuous improvement process.

Steel Safety Day takes place on 28 April every year and is aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Ahead of the safety day, worldsteel requests all its members to carry out a safety audit.

Each year one of the five causes is highlighted and given more focus to raise awareness of the cause and how to prevent associated risks.

The most common causes of safety incidents and preventative measures have been identified as follows:

  • Moving machinery – Isolate, lock or pin all energy sources before any machinery is accessed.
  • Falling from height – Provide regular training, appropriate harnessing equipment and ensure checks are in place when working at height.
  • Falling objects – Ensure regular checks are in place to remove or secure objects in risk areas.
  • Asphyxiation or gassing – Install sensors to test atmospheric conditions and provide training on evacuation plans in order to reduce risks of dangerous gases.
  • Cranes – Carry out daily checks before a crane is used to ensure safe and reliable operation.


2015 Steel Safety Day results and outcome:

April 2016


worldsteel safety team

Henk Reimink | Director, Industry Excellence  | T: +32 (0)2 702 89 39 |

Anu Hirvonen | Fellow, Safety and Health Programme  | T: +32 (0)2 708 81 88 |