2013 Alcoa Self Assessment Tool Health Ratings by Region
2012 Alcoa Self Assessment Tool Health Ratings

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Control of Significant Ergonomic Risks by Region
Control of Significant Ergonomic Risks by Region

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Advancing the Health and Well-Being of Our Employees


The health and well-being of our global workforce are essential to our long-term viability.


Taking care of our people is an important Alcoa value and one that sets us apart. We assume responsibility to not only create a safe workplace, but also create a healthy workplace in which our employees are empowered with the tools, resources, and support they need to live healthy lives.


We are committed to reducing work-related illnesses and injuries while improving the overall health of our workforce. To guide us in our mission, the corporate Alcoa health team has identified four key focus areas that are vital to the ongoing sustainability of our operations and products:


Our ongoing efforts to improve employee health and shape our overall health strategy are led by the Alcoa Global Health Committee, which is a group of experts from relevant disciplines representing all key regions and businesses.


Recommendations emerging from the Alcoa Global Health Committee are guided by the following objectives:

  • Achieving maximum elimination/control of occupational health risks;
  • Promoting wellness, and supporting employees in their efforts to live healthier lives;
  • Assuring adequate engagement with the communities in which we operate; and
  • Championing outstanding science regarding aluminum and health.


In addition to focusing on the health issues affecting our employees, we monitor emerging health-related trends in the aluminum industry that could potentially impact our employees in the future. We also have a longstanding relationship with the Health Committee of the International Aluminium Institute. We have sponsored a number of chairpersons to this committee since its inception more than three decades ago.


Healthy Workplace

Our goal is to eliminate, or reduce to the extent possible, health hazards that could potentially impact our employees, contractors, and other individuals within the facilities we own or operate.


Our focus on a healthy workplace addresses the more traditional occupational health risks—chemical, physical, and biological agents present in our locations from our manufacturing processes, operations, or products.


Key goals within this area include:

  • Root cause risk elimination, where feasible;
  • Use of personal protective equipment, such as respiratory or hearing protection, where appropriate; and
  • Appropriate integration with our wellness initiatives.


Robust management systems facilitate achievement in this area. Comprehensive qualitative and quantitative industrial hygiene assessments to identify, describe, measure, and quantify workplace health risks are the cornerstones.


In 2011, we established two critical health protocols—exposure assessment and hazardous materials management—for audit and self-assessment to track progress against fundamental aspects of workplace health risk management. Our goal is 100% of our locations receiving a “Good” or better score for both protocols, which are audited typically every three to five years and self-assessed annually consistent with the risk for that location. A “Good” score indicates sustainable processes that meet internal standards and regulatory requirements are in place.


By year-end 2013, 95% of our locations achieved the goal for exposure assessment and 98% for hazardous materials management. These increased from audit scores of 86% and 90%, respectively, in 2012.

2013 Alcoa Self Assessment Tool Ratings
Percent of locations receiving a “Good” or better self-audit score
Hazardous Materials
  95 98
2013 Alcoa Self Assessment Tool Ratings by Region
Percent of locations receiving a “Good” or better self-audit score
Region Exposure
Hazardous Materials
Asia 100 100
Australia 100 100
Europe 93 98
North America 95 97
South America 100 100
Chemical and Noise Reduction Initiatives

Control of identified chemical or noise risks within Alcoa follows the accepted control hierarchy: substitution or elimination, engineering solutions, work practice or other administrative controls, personal protective equipment, medical surveillance, and other safeguards and countermeasures.


Environmental agents that may be of higher concern, such as carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, and respiratory and dermal sensitizers, are assigned a higher priority for control strategies.


The lowering of occupational exposure limits, either voluntarily by us based on internal scientific review or by new country-specific governmental limits, sometimes prompts the need for consideration of additional strategies to control exposure risks appropriately. This may require significant adjustments in work practice controls, personal protective equipment, and/or capital outlay. The implementation of these additional control strategies requires engagement of all relevant business unit stakeholders, as well as our many labor unions around the world.


Hearing Conservation

Our traditional hearing conservation efforts have been strengthened in recent years through our active involvement in testing and piloting new hearing protection and personal noise measurement technologies. Preliminary evidence from these pilots shows sustained arrestment in the development of progressive hearing loss, and a number of our locations are either implementing or evaluating these newer approaches. 

We continue to participate in a U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study designed to better evaluate the effectiveness of hearing conservation programs with the objective of creating tools and recommendations for improvement in this area. Fifteen of our facilities will participate in the study through 2014.

We encourage all of our locations to monitor, track, and report on a holistic indicator of hearing loss that we refer to as the total hearing shift rate. This indicator captures all confirmed, age-corrected 10-decibel hearing shifts, irrespective of work-relatedness, among employees tested as part of our hearing conservation program. We have established a year-end 2020 target of less than 1% for the annual rate of total hearing shifts.

We believe this holistic approach to the preservation of hearing, with the transfer of appropriate hearing conservation practices from the work environment to the home environment, will help avoid future significant hearing impairment. 

Intervention both at work and home is an important element of our wellness initiatives to prevent hearing loss, and it is an example of our efforts to forge more integration between a healthy workplace and healthy employees. As part of this goal, we are working with the Hearing Health Foundation to provide locations with more information about hearing health beyond occupational hearing-loss concerns.


Total Hearing Shift Rate
The significantly higher rate for 2013 reflects a maturing database that is now inclusive of data from many more global locations, as well as an adjustment in methodology for calculating this rate, which draws from a more robust audiometric data source.



The goal of ergonomics is to reduce strains, sprains, and long-term muscle, tendon, and joint problems—conditions that affect quality of life—by designing work requirements to meet the abilities of the person.


Key elements of our ergonomics effort include:

  • Aggressive training and education programs;
  • An ergonomic risk calculator to identify, quantify, and prioritize location ergonomic risks;
  • Best practice sharing globally; and
  • Root-cause risk elimination strategies to control for identified risks. This control strategy includes the implementation of engineering controls, when possible, to eliminate or reduce the exposure of concern and thereby reduce the risk of ergonomic-related injuries.


Control efforts are ongoing, along with continuous reinforcement of ergonomically optimal work practices, early recognition and intervention for musculoskeletal symptoms, and periodic employee re-training in ergonomic principles.


Control of Significant Ergonomic Risks
  Number of
Significant Risks
Significant Risks
2011 (base year) 1,679 Not applicable
2012 1,885 288 (15%)
2013 2,075 521 (25%)
Control of Significant Ergonomic Risks by Region
As of year-end 2013
  Number of
Significant Risks
Significant Risks
Asia 77 6 (8%)
Australia 347 60 (17%)
Europe 395 177 (45%)
North America 661 147 (22%)
South America 595 131 (22%)
Heat Stress Management

For many years, we have maintained a comprehensive heat stress management standard to prevent heat-related illnesses. Key elements of the standard include:

  • Exposure assessment;
  • Basic practices (training, fluid replacement, first aid, incident investigation, medical evaluation, and treatment process);
  • Additional practices (written heat stress program, medical surveillance, engineering and administrative controls, personal protective equipment, and program effectiveness audits);
  • Potroom practices; and
  • Extreme heat stress practices.

Smelting potroom in Australia


Employees working in our Global Primary Products business, which consists of mining, refining, and smelting, are most at risk with respect to heat illness. The potentially extreme heat stress environment found in smelting potrooms, for example, requires constant vigilance regarding all applicable management practices, including ongoing employee education.


Health and Safety Committees

In our U.S. facilities, health and safety committees provide the opportunity for employees at all levels of the organization to engage in the development of work practices, programs, and education efforts that promote health and safety awareness and the prevention of injuries on and off the job.

Approximately one-third (6,100 employees) of the U.S. hourly population is covered by a master labor agreement between Alcoa and the United Steelworkers (USW). In accordance with this agreement, joint health and safety committees are deployed at all 10 master locations.

Each committee meets on a regular basis to discuss accident prevention, review plant safety reports, and recommend improvements to health and safety procedures. On an annual basis, Alcoa and the USW jointly sponsor a conference on health and safety for representatives from each of the master locations.

On a global basis, more than 80% of our hourly workforce is represented by joint health and safety committees.


Healthy Employees

Crucial to our ability to advance each generation is the safety, health, and well-being of our employees. While we take pride in our accomplishments in occupational health, none of our achievements in that area is truly meaningful unless we work to improve overall employee health and well-being.


Our key goals for ensuring the health of our global workforce are to:

  • Implement healthy workplace initiatives that help employees understand and control their personal health risks;
  • Maximize participation in clinical preventive services;
  • Improve the health status of employees, individually and collectively; and
  • Align leadership, benefits, policies, incentives, and programs to support improving employee health and wellness.
Health Research

We sponsor research to identify correctable causes of injury and chronic disease and create a culture of health through partnerships with the occupational and environmental medicine 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 foster a culture of health throughout the company. This team also provides counsel for effective communication and knowledge sharing.


Wellness & Culture of Health

In addition to research, we have worked for more than a decade to address recognized health risks within our workforce. Local requirements, community expectations, and cultural relevance dictate the specific type and nature of the health initiatives at any given Alcoa location.


Examples of long-standing initiatives—tracked and monitored via a set of evolving global targets—include establishing employee assistance programs (EAPs) and providing annual influenza vaccines to employees who wanted one.


Alcoa Wellness

In 2012, we launched the Alcoa Global Wellness Initiative, which is focused on the most important issues for our employees—physical activity, nutrition, tobacco usage, and well-being. The U.S. region was the major focus in 2012, with initiatives that included the creation of location-based wellness teams, deployment of relevant wellness programs, promotion of the PROCAM health-risk calculator, and expanded health risk data reporting capability.


During 2013, we extended the initiative to the rest of our worldwide locations through the establishment of an international wellness infrastructure and a global wellness agenda that addressed the following:

  • Physical activity, nutrition, tobacco usage, and well-being (data-based initiatives);
  • Biometric screenings;
Global Corporate Challenge
  • Our first global activity challenge—the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC)—with more than 20,000 employees participating and a program completion rate that exceeded 94%. These results earned us GCC’s designation of “World’s Most Active Company” out of the more than 1,200 companies participating in the challenge;
  • Expanded growth of our wellness single point of accountability (SPA) network from 80 U.S. locations to more than 180 worldwide;
  • Promotion of heart health and the use of the PROCAM health risk calculator, now translated into 13 languages;
  • Maintenance of a smoke-free indoor workplace worldwide, with an aspiration to achieve a tobacco-free campus at every location; and
  • Implementation of our first global tobacco cessation campaign.

Our 2013 employee survey, Global Voices, gathered employee perceptions of our various wellness and culture of health activities. The statement “The health and wellness activities at my location promote employee personal health” received an 82% favorable response rate from the respondents compared to 76% in 2012 and 72% in 2011. Our goal is 100% by 2020.


Occupational Medicine

The availability of occupational medicine services to all Alcoa locations, regardless of size, remains a cornerstone of our strategy to assist in the effective implementation of our health and medical standards and for achieving our ideal state of optimized health and well-being for all employees.

The occupational healthcare providers in our locations are instrumental in assuring that required medical evaluations, including relevant chemical medical surveillance evaluations, are properly conducted. These evaluations serve as an important feedback loop on the effectiveness of implemented health and hygiene control strategies.

With the growing globalization of our operations, significant challenges exist in gaining a complete understanding about the medical delivery systems, both for occupational medicine services and the healthcare system at large, in the countries and regions in which we operate. This understanding is necessary for the proper and successful implementation of our required occupational medicine programs and integration with the local healthcare infrastructure. To achieve our objectives, we sometimes use novel partnerships and offer support through training and assistance as needed.


Occupational Diseases Rate
Employees/supervised contractors
  Global Asia Australia Europe North America South America
2009 0.64 0.13 1.43 0.11 0.89 0.05
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
Occupational Diseases 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
Occupational Diseases Count by Gender
Male Female Male Female
2009 316 51
2010 462 68
2011 366 54 17 1
2012 347 75 11 3
2013 275 38 18 1


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 the human immunodeficiency virus (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 such personnel 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 on EHS

The health and safety of the people in the communities in which we operate, as well as the protection of the environment beyond the walls of our facilities, are of paramount importance. From sponsoring the collection of household hazardous wastes to conducting free community health screenings, we reinforce our values and demonstrate our commitment to improving the quality of life for individuals and the community as a whole.

Key goals within this focus area include:

  • Proactive engagement with the community on a sustained basis;
  • Adequate assessment of EHS risks to the community and demonstrated control;
  • Establishment of local response capacity to stakeholder EHS concerns;
  • Appropriate investment in targeted strategic social health investment; and
  • Optimized synergy between our EHS programs and our public strategy initiatives.

At a strategic level, one key component is a Community Health Impact Assessment. This assessment helps us attempt to understand the overall population health profile of a community, as well as assess broader public health effects from the changes introduced to a community as a result of a new project. As per Alcoa guidelines, the scope of the assessment is determined on a project-by-project basis.

We also deploy the Alcoa Community Framework at every location to ensure that we properly engage our community stakeholders and that we are listening carefully and responding to their perspectives and concerns. This is especially important in the area of community health.

Alcoa Foundation has provided financial support to many community health and safety programs worldwide, including the following in 2013:

  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA: MetroHealth Cancer Care Center improves breast health of uninsured and underserved women through its BRinging Education, Advocacy and Support Together (BREAST)/Amigas program.
  • Russia: A three-year partnership with the Into the Heartland Campaign will finalize the development of a self-sustaining children’s heart program in the city of Rostov-on-Don.
  • Guinea: CECI will contribute to improving public health and hygiene conditions in the rural community of Kamsar by helping eliminate mosquitoes, flies, and other tramsitters of diarrheal and parasitic diseases, cholera, malaria, and more.
  • Dover, New Jersey, USA: Zufall Health Center’s Highlands Health Van brings primary medical and oral health services to thousands of isolated low-income residents.


Customer Health/Product Safety

We have an EHS value and policy with a number of underlying principles, one of which is “We supply and use safe and reliable products and services.”

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 and Integrity 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 ensure our products comply with regulations from various agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission and Parliament. We also work closely with our suppliers and customers to ensure that our products meet the needs of the end user in a safe, effective manner.

Another focus involves providing safety data sheets (SDSs) and other documents that communicate information on the proper use, reuse, and/or disposal of our products. Our SDSs identify the potential EHS risks associated with use and misuse of these products and the precautionary measures that can be used to reduce or eliminate these risks.

We began authoring SDSs in 1980 before they were mandated by government regulations, and we provide them on a global basis to all customers regardless of the lack of local requirements. The SDSs can be found on the Alcoa website and are available in multiple languages and formats.


Case Studies

Alcoa Business Builds a Culture of Health and Wellness 

Fitness Program Gives Russian Youth Access to Healthy Lifestyles

Ergo-Blitzes Reduce Recordable Injuries at Davenport Works

Advanced Technology Reduces Hearing Loss in Smelter Employees

Related Links
Alcoa Safety

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