Total Hearing Shift Rate
Total Hearing Shift Rate

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Occupational Diseases Rate
Occupational Diseases Rate

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Advancing Employee Health and Wellness


We are committed to creating a workplace that protects employee health and empowers our employees to live healthy lives. That commitment also extends to the communities where we operate and the customers who use the products we produce.


We have been an industry leader in establishing health standards, often implementing more stringent requirements than those specified by applicable law. We also proactively identify and respond to emerging health-related trends in our industry and have established a long-standing relationship with the Health Committee of the International Aluminium Institute.


Healthy Workplace

Our goal for a healthy workplace is simple—eliminate all health hazards that could potentially affect employees, contractors, and other individuals within our facilities. If elimination is not feasible, we reduce the risk to the fullest extent possible.


The health hazards inherent in our diverse operations may include chemical, physical (noise, ergonomic, radiation, heat, and vibration), or other types of hazards. We have spent decades implementing processes, procedures, equipment, and technologies to mitigate these risks and have made significant progress as demonstrated by our incident rates, which are well below industry averages.


In 2014, our priority focus areas were chemical exposure reduction and hearing conservation.


Chemical Exposure Reduction

We have set our global chemical exposure limits based on current scientific knowledge and the most stringent government and industry guidelines available. In some instances, our limits are more stringent than what is legally required by specific countries in which we operate.


The first step we take in controlling chemical risk is through substitution or elimination. If neither is possible, we use other safeguards and countermeasures that include engineered solutions, work practices, administrative controls, personal protective equipment, and medical surveillance.


At our wheels facility in Japan, for example, existing exhaust systems were not sufficiently venting mist from the plant floor. To rectify the situation, the location installed three mist-collecting systems that significantly improved the air quality.  


Hearing Conservation

Many of our manufacturing processes are noisy due to the quantity and scale of the equipment that we use, with approximately 60% of our employees potentially working in high-noise environments. We have strict standards in place regarding the use of hearing protection and zero tolerance for noncompliance.


All of our locations monitor, track, and report on the total hearing shift rate of their workforce. This indicator captures all confirmed age-corrected 10-decibel hearing shifts, regardless of cause, among tested employees, with a 2020 goal of less than 1% for the annual rate of total hearing shifts. In 2014, we remained at a 1.9% rate globally.


Total Hearing Shift Rate
The significantly higher rates starting in 2013 reflect a maturing database, as well as an adjustment in methodology for calculating this rate.


Our locations are actively working to eliminate or reduce noise in their operations. A good example is our mining, refining, and smelting operations in Australia, which implemented a multi-faceted hearing conservation program. Key elements include:

  • An annual hearing test and biannual checks to ensure the proper fit of hearing protection equipment for all employees exposed to noise;
  • Individual hearing conservation reviews and bi-monthly audits on the proper fit and usage of hearing protection equipment for all employees identified as at-risk for hearing loss;
  • Awareness-building initiatives, such as noise summits, signage, and hearing-promotion campaigns;
  • Noise badges that use green and red flashing lights to indicate safe and noisy areas;
  • The inclusion of noise projects in crew safety plans; and
  • A pre-installation review of new equipment to identify noise-reduction opportunities.


In 2014, these Australian locations had a 1.4% total hearing shift rate, down from 5.5% in 2006.  


Fifteen of our U.S. facilities are participating in a 2012-2015 study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that will create hearing conservation tools and recommendations.


Health and Safety Committees

It is important to engage our employees in the development of work practices, programs, and education efforts that promote a healthy work environment. More than 80% of our hourly workforce around the world is represented by health and safety committees.


In the United States, Alcoa and the United Steelworkers union jointly sponsor an annual health and safety meeting to address the root causes of workplace fatalities, injuries, and disease. Approximately 40 employees and union representatives attended the 14th such meeting in September 2014.


Health Research

To identify correctable causes of injury and chronic disease, we sponsor research through partnerships with medical experts at Stanford University and Yale University.


Our internal Alcoa Health Research Team works closely with our external Occupational and Environmental Health Advisory Council to translate research findings into policies that align with business goals and support wellness programs throughout the company. This team also provides counsel for effective communication and knowledge sharing.


Healthy Employees

We take great pride in the progress we have made in creating a healthy workplace for our employees, but we believe it is equally important to focus on improving overall employee health and well-being both at work and at home.


Alcoa Global Wellness Initiative

Launched in 2012, the Alcoa Global Wellness Initiative focuses on the most important issues for our employees—physical activity, nutrition, tobacco usage, and well-being. Corporate-sponsored company-wide programs are supplemented by thousands of location programs and events, which are specifically designed to address local needs, community expectations, and cultural relevance.


Key achievements and activities in 2014 included the following:

  • We expanded our global wellness infrastructure to more than 180 locations and 200 wellness leaders.
GCC Team

A Global Corporate Challenge team from our Alumar location in São Luís, Brazil

  • For the second year in a row, we were named the world’s most active organization by the Global Corporate Challenge. Approximately 22,400 employees participated in the challenge, logging a collective 26 billion steps.
  • More than 7,200 employees in the United States underwent onsite or physician-provided biometric screenings to identify potential health issues.
  • Employees completed more than 21,000 heart-health assessments using the PROCAM health risk calculator.
  • We conducted our second global tobacco-cessation campaign.
  • Our Building & Construction Systems (BCS) North America business became the first of our businesses to have tobacco-free campuses at all of its 20 locations.


One measure of the success of our wellness effort is the annual Global Voices employee survey. In 2014, the statement “The health and wellness activities at my location promote employee personal health” received an 83% favorable response rate. This exceeded the 77% best-in-class rate for all companies, as well as the 82% response rate in 2013 and 76% in 2012 when we launched the Alcoa Global Wellness Initiative. Our goal is 100% by 2020. 


Occupational Medicine

Regardless of the size of their location, all of our employees have access to occupational medicine services to optimize their health and well-being. These services include regulatory or Alcoa-driven chemical surveillance evaluations, fitness-for-duty assessments, hearing evaluations, lung-function testing, work-related injury and illness evaluation and treatment, substance abuse testing, job-related immunizations, and wellness.


In 2014, we had 332 occupational disease cases reported among our workforce, with an occupational disease rate of 0.54 reported illnesses per 100 full-time employees. Reported illnesses can include respiratory disease, infections, skin disease, hearing loss, cancer, pneumoconiosis, and heat-related illnesses.


Occupational Disease Rate
Employees/supervised contractors
  Global Asia Australia Europe North America South America
2010 0.94 1.31 1.60 0.22 1.30 0.18
2011 0.66 0.34 0.97 0.18 0.94 0.13
2012 0.66 0.85 0.82 0.77 0.63 0.39
2013 0.49 0.10 0.89 0.35 0.59 0.10
2014 0.54 0.00 0.85 0.15 0.77 0.03
Occupational Disease Rate
Non-supervised contractors
  Global Asia Australia Europe North America South America
2011 0.13 0.00 0.31 0.04 0.08 0.11
2012 0.10 0.00 0.14 0.00 0.10 0.06
2013 0.13 0.61 0.40 0.00 0.22 0.06
2014 0.04 0.80 0.11 0.00 0.03 0.00
Occupational Disease Count by Gender
Male Female Male Female
2010 462 68
2011 366 54 17 1
2012 347 75 11 3
2013 275 38 18 1
2014 291 41  5 0
Pandemic Preparedness

As a global company, we must be prepared to help protect our employees from outbreaks of serious illness and disease occurring in the communities where they live and work. We gained significant experience in this area from managing the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, the avian influenza concern of 2006, and the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009.


In 2014, we again mobilized our team of internal health experts to monitor the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where we have a limited presence in Guinea. In collaboration with local health resources and development partners, we provided education and training on the virus to our employees, their family members, and the communities surrounding our operations. We also accepted a leadership role to co-lead the Guinea-specific Ebola Private Sector Mobilization Group, signed on to the United Nations' Business Action Pledge for Ebola Elimination, and provided a US$80,000 grant via Alcoa Foundation to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support communications and contact tracing in Guinea.


Management of Chronic Illness

We maintain a global health standard that enables and supports employees living with chronic diseases, including life-threatening and transmittable diseases like HIV and AIDS, to continue to pursue active careers. The employees must be physically capable of working, able to perform their assigned duties in an acceptable manner, and not present a direct threat to the health and safety of themselves or others at work.


Reasonable accommodations to the physical needs of these employees are made on a case-by-case basis and, at a minimum, will meet all applicable legal requirements. The standard also addresses issues of reasonable accommodation, coworker education and counseling, and confidentiality.


Community Engagement

Our health responsibility extends beyond the plant fence and into the communities that surround our operations.


The Alcoa Community Framework is an important tool that we use to determine, among other items, the health needs and concerns of our community stakeholders. Revamped in 2014, the framework now requires locations to provide metrics related to air quality, water quality, noise, and community health—all of which could impact the health of our neighbors.


Alcoa Foundation often fills an identified gap through grants to nonprofit organizations that are addressing specific health needs in the community. Examples of 2014 grants include:

  • In New York City, USA, Citymeals-on-Wheels will provide supplementary shelf-stable food to community members living at or below poverty level and who have limited access to nourishing food.
  • The Muskegon Community Health Project in Michigan, USA, will increase access to dental care and oral health education for low-income, uninsured Muskegon County residents.


Customer Health/Product Safety

Key goals that drive our efforts to ensure customer health and product safety include:

  • Assuring health integrity in product safety and stewardship;
  • Championing outstanding science, toxicology, and risk assessment;
  • Partnering with other key stakeholders to promote synergy;
  • Engaging regulators as appropriate; and
  • Challenging misguided/bad science with best available scientific research.


In support of these goals, we have a Product Safety Standard to identify what is required for product safety management systems developed by our businesses. The standard includes requirements for raw material sources, production practices, chemical composition of our products, and communication of risks associated with use or abuse of these products.


We also provide safety data sheets and other documents that communicate information on the proper use, reuse, and/or disposal of our products. These sheets include the potential health risks associated with use and misuse of these products and the precautionary measures that can be used to reduce or eliminate these risks.


In 2014, we began updating our safety data sheets to conform to the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. We anticipate this initiative will be completed in 2015.


Case Studies

Partnership Helps Guinea Health Facilities Manage, Control Infectious Diseases


Related Links

Alcoa Safety

Zero Is Possible  (View up-to-the-minute and monthly statistics on Alcoa’s progress toward zero injuries and illnesses.)