Lafarge highlights importance of safety at its plants

RP news wires, Noria Corporation

In June, Lafarge North America Inc. – part of the Lafarge Group, the world leader in building materials – is holding "Safety Month" at its 1,000-plus sites throughout North America. At each site, management is seeking to raise awareness among employees, subcontractors and the local community about the importance of safety to the company’s employees and subcontractors, the company itself, and the communities in which Lafarge and its subsidiaries operate here and around the world.

“Nothing is more important to us at Lafarge than the safety of our workers, our subcontractors, and the communities in and near which we operate,” says Louise Muth, director of external communications for Lafarge North America. “A safe workplace means a better quality of life and better morale for our employees. Lafarge’s ‘Safety Month’ program is designed to educate the Lafarge family about why safety is so important, and to remind our employees and subcontractors about ways to maximize their own safety, on the job, in and around the plant, and in their own homes and communities.”

Lafarge is already one of the safest companies in its sector, and the safety of its employees, subcontractors and communities has long been a top priority. Reflecting that emphasis, Lafarge North America has made significant progress in improving its safety performance. For example:

·        The Aggregates and Concrete business achieved a 6.4 percent decrease in the lost-time injury frequency rate from 2006 to 2007 as a result of the company’s comprehensive safety program. In the first quarter of 2008, this business unit achieved a 19 percent improvement from the 2007 level.

·        Since 2002, the Cement business has achieved a 44 percent reduction in all injuries and a 25 percent reduction in lost-time injuries.

·        The Gypsum business has now worked 8 months without a lost-time incident and has reduced its medical incident rate by 60 percent since 2006.

Lafarge has set itself the goal of becoming one of the world's leading industrial groups with regard to safety. To achieve this, in 2006 Lafarge drew up an ambitious roadmap, covering all aspects of its health and safety performance.

·        Creation of a dedicated health and safety organization, reporting to top management

A worldwide health and safety department has been set up, reporting directly to the chairman/CEO. This department promotes and coordinates the activities of health and safety managers throughout Lafarge’s subsidiaries, who themselves report to the highest managerial level within those units.

·        Development of Lafarge standards, deployed worldwide

In 2006, Lafarge launched a new safety policy, which every one of Lafarge's 90,000 employees has signed, affirming their commitment to the company’s safety approach and safety rules. The four most high-risk situations within Lafarge's professional activities have been identified: working at height, energy isolation tasks, access to confined spaces and use of mobile equipment. Standards are being defined and deployed for each of these operations in all units worldwide, enabling each site to ensure that the accident prevention rules are implemented.

·        Leadership and empowerment of managers

Safety has become a key career management criterion within Lafarge. The health and safety roadmap's results and state of progress are now part of the annual performance and bonus criteria applicable to all operational managers.

·        Stronger efforts to raise awareness among employees

Training programs have been set up at each site for both employees and subcontractors including the annual "Safety Month," taking place in June this year, at all of Lafarge's 3,000 manufacturing sites worldwide. During the month, each site is organizing events, open houses, sessions to raise awareness, and communication campaigns on the theme of health and safety for employees, their families, subcontractors and the local communities working and living near Lafarge sites.

·        Sharing best practices among business units

To create internal momentum and encourage business units to adopt best practices already developed elsewhere within the company, Lafarge has set up a "Safety Excellence Club" to reward performance at the best business units. Those units which have achieved a high level of safety performance are eligible to join. These units are awarded a label enabling them to promote their safety results, comprising a wide variety of communications materials.

About Lafarge
Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 90,000 employees in 76 countries, Lafarge posted sales of 17.6 billion Euros and net income of 1.9 billion Euros in 2007. Lafarge North America Inc., a Lafarge Group company, is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the United States and Canada. Its materials are used for residential, commercial, institutional and public works construction.

Lafarge is the only company in the construction materials sector to be listed in the 2008 “100 Global Most Sustainable Corporations in the World.” Lafarge has been committed to sustainable development for many years, pursuing a strategy that combines industrial know-how with performance, value creation, respect for employees and local cultures, environmental protection and the conservation of natural resources and energy. To make advances in building materials, Lafarge places the customer at the heart of its concerns. It offers the construction industry and the general public innovative solutions bringing greater safety, comfort and quality to their everyday surroundings.

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