SUSTAINABILITY

Working environment

Hofseth BioCare’s employees are most vital to the company’s operations and business success.
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Attracting and retaining skilled workers while maintaining a safe and healthy working environment are key objectives of the company and our stakeholders. The company can directly impact the working environment through its policies and agreements, as well as indirectly through dialogue with employee representatives and unions.

Like in any production environment, the company and its employees are exposed to risk of incidents affecting employee safety and security. Hofseth BioCare also has the direct and indirect ability and responsibility to affect such risk through policies, processes and by maintaining a proactive approach to health and safety risks in the physical and psychological working environment. There are also opportunities in engaging employees, thereby helping to maintain a safe and effective working environment through safety culture.


Worker’s rights, diversity and non-discrimination

Hofseth BioCare operates in accordance with the Norwegian Working Environment Act. Moreover, all employees are committed to a set of values and are expected to act in line with these values:

Honest

We are not afraid to speak up and we always deliver on what we promise. We do not ‘cut in line’ or otherwise behave in an unethical way.

Innovative

We build on our expertise and seek new knowledge. We use our competence to find new and innovative solutions.

Collaborative

We gain and share knowledge internally and, when necessary, seek new solutions externally.

Hofseth BioCare aims to have an inclusive and open working environment that encourages employees to share their opinions and ideas. The company opposes discrimination in any form, whether based on political views, membership in workers’ organizations, sexual orientation, disability and/or age. In addition to following the Working Environment Act, Hofseth BioCare also operates in accordance with the Gender Equality Act, which protects against discrimination based on gender, as well as the Anti-Discrimination Act, which protects against discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, religion and the like. For 2019 at Hofseth BioCare, the average female employee’s salary was 97.3 percent of the average male employee. Hofseth BioCare’s Human Rights Policy which is outlined in our Human Resources Handbook.

Hofseth BioCare’s company structure can be described as ‘egalitarian’ and employees are encouraged to actively contribute with their opinions regarding how to improve the working environment. The company has not established an official whistleblowing channel but conducts talks with all employees annually on their wellbeing and other work-related questions. Hofseth BioCare does not have a Work Environment Committee (AMU) as of today, but the HSE Group and the Quality Manager handles most of the questions that the AMU would be responsible for. Currently, employees at Berkåk have not unionized, but the employees at Midsund are members of Industri & Energi, the Norwegian trade union for employees in the industry and energy sectors.


Occupational health and safety

Workers’ Health and safety (HSE) is vital to Hofseth BioCare. The company aims to provide a safe, healthy and satisfactory workplace and has thus implemented an occupational health and safety management system which builds on the Norwegian Working Environment Act as well as regulations relating to systematic health, environmental and safety activities in enterprises (internal control regulations).

One of the main objectives of the Working Environment Act is to ensure that the employees themselves participate in developing the design of their own working environment. At each of our factories, a safety delegate and a fire chief has been appointed. At Berkåk, the HSE Group is led by the Quality Manager, who has the highest responsibility for HSE at Hofseth BioCare’s sites. Midsund did not have a dedicated HSE Group in 2019 and the company has identified room for improvement concerning HSE monitoring and reporting at the factory. For Berkåk, the HSE Group consist of the Plant Manager, the Production Manager, the Technical Manager, the safety representative and the fire protection leader.

Hofseth BioCare has developed a quality system where internal control for HSE is integrated into a comprehensive system. Internal control HSE may be subject to scrutiny by the Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority, the county administrator and fire and rescue services. All HSE targets are outlined in the HSE Policy that apply to all company divisions and locations. The HSE Policy is updated annually at a minimum and shared with all employees. The HSE activities are also mentioned in the company’s Annual Calendar of activities and followed up at scheduled HSE meetings. The meetings also discuss feedback from internal audits, safety inspections and regulatory authorities, as well as changes in regulations, reports from occupational health services and input from employees, etc.

Our main goal is zero accidents, loss or damage to people, material and the environment. Injuries and work-related accidents are registered at the site level. While the ambition of the company is to see zero accidents, it is of critical importance to maintain full overview of any incident or accidents at any of Hofseth BioCare’s sites, and in turn work on prevention and on ensuring a healthy and safe workplace. Work at both our facilities at Berkåk as well as Midsund involve health and safety risks to the employees, first and foremost in the manual processing and where chemical substances are used. We also remain vigilant of the long-term risk associated with the fulfilment of repetitive tasks.

One work incident was reported at Midsund in 2019. An employee suffered non-permanent eye damage after getting enzyme in their eye. An additional two employees also got enzyme in their eyes but suffered no ill effects. In the latter two cases, the employees did not wear protective eyewear, which is a requirement. At Berkåk the company did not register any work incidents. However, there were a couple of cases concerning skin problems when performing toll manufacturing. The fact that those who had experienced skin problems saw improvements when we stopped the practice, led us to believe the ill effects were linked to the type of products worked with at the time. At Berkåk, several employees reported hearing deficiencies, but it is difficult to say if this is work-related, as some perform leisure activities that can also cause hearing damage. For both factories, there is a risk of respiratory disease when working with powder production. Hofseth BioCare is not familiar with any such cases and have implemented measures to reduce the risk to an acceptable level, including regular measurements of dust levels.

It is important that incidents are prevented and that employees undergo regular health checks so that potential injuries are detected at the earliest possible stage. Consequently, all employees have access to an occupational health service scheme.

MidsundBerkåk
Injury rate*
2 941
0
Work injuries (total number)
10
LTI (lost time injuries, number of injuries that have led to sick leave)
00
Deaths caused by work injuries
00
Absenve due to illness
5.39 %
1.01 %

* The injury rate is calculated as the number of new cases of injury during the calendar year divided by the number of workers in the reference group during the year, multiplied by 100,000.

In 2019, Berkåk recorded a sickness absence percentage of 1.01, an exceptionally low level when compared to the country average of 6 percent. At Midsund the sickness absence percentage was 5.39 percent. A good working environment and the opportunity to develop new skills and grow within the company are important factors that keep the sickness absence at a low level. In an effort to positively impact the factors linked to absence we have made changes in how the factories are managed. In 2019 we engaged an external consultant to work with us in improving the working culture at Midsund. It is vital that employees feel as essential and appreciated as they are, and we firmly believe that further involving and increasing the responsibilities of workers in processes will help reduce the number of people on sick leave.


Hofseth BioCare has set the following goals for HSE and the working environment for 2020:
  • Establish a Code of Conduct which can be shared with external stakeholder groups
  • Adapt HSE best practices from Berkåk at the Midsund­facility
  • Increased focus on guidelines for the use of protective eyewear when working with high risk products such as enzymes
  • Increased focus on guidelines for the use of protective hearing devices when working with noisy equipment/in noisy surroundings