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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Alcoa Wellness
Alcoa Wellness



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 are led by the Alcoa Global Health Committee. Formed in 2009, this committee comprises experts in industrial hygiene, medicine, epidemiology, toxicology, risk assessment, environmental health, wellness, and ergonomics. All regions and business units are represented on the committee, which provides an open forum to exchange ideas and plays a pivotal role in shaping Alcoa’s health strategy.


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, all 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 Alcoa 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;
  • Growth projects that strive, through best available technologies, to eliminate as many health hazards in routine work areas as possible prior to commencing operations; 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.


Our operating locations are complex and dynamic, and we are constantly evaluating occupational exposure limits to ensure that our employees are adequately protected. The vital importance of this activity is illustrated by the fact that in 2011, we adopted exposure assessment as one of two critical health audit self-assessment protocols. By year-end 2012, we had achieved 86% “Good” or better company-wide against a goal of 75%. The target for year-end 2013 is 100%.


Hazardous materials management is the second critical health audit self-assessment protocol. At the end of 2012, we reached 90% “Good” or better company-wide against a global goal of 75%. The target for year-end 2013 is also 100%.

2012 Alcoa Self Assessment Tool Ratings
Percent of locations receiving a “Good” or better self-audit score
Hazardous Materials
  86 90
2012 Alcoa Self Assessment Tool Ratings by Region
Percent of locations receiving a “Good” or better self-audit score
Region Exposure
Hazardous Materials
Asia 71 71
Australia 92 92
Europe 93 83
North America 94 94
South America 75 88
Chemical and Noise Reduction Initiatives

Any location within Alcoa that identifies a chemical or noise risk uses engineering solutions, work practice controls, or other safeguards and countermeasures, such as personal protective equipment and medical surveillance, to control that risk. Our long-term focus is not to rely only on layers of protection to manage the risk, but to eliminate the inherent risk, if feasible. Since 1999, we have set various goals to move us toward the risk-elimination objective.


In 2012, we added new data fields to our industrial hygiene database to identify environmental agents that may be of higher concern, such as carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins, and respiratory and dermal sensitizers, so that a higher priority can be assigned 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 dosimetry technologies. Preliminary evidence from these pilots shows sustained arrestment in the development of progressive hearing loss.


An increasing number of our locations are either implementing or evaluating these newer approaches. A study of one such emerging technology that involves several of our U.S. locations is underway and funded by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This study will help guide the next control strategy leap within our company. (Read the case study on Alcoa Intalco Works.)


We are also participating in a recently funded NIOSH study designed to better evaluate the effectiveness of hearing conservation programs. The outcome is to create tools and recommendations for evaluation and implementation of effective hearing conservation programs.  Twenty Alcoa 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. It is also an example of our efforts to forge more integration between a healthy workplace and healthy employees since, at the individual level, prevention of hearing loss is the ultimate endpoint. 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.


Our early hearing loss indicator (i.e., non-age-corrected 10 decibel hearing shift) facilitates enhanced intervention for employees with early, reversible hearing change to prevent future permanent and potentially disabling hearing loss.   


Total Hearing Shift Rate

Data are for reporting locations of 100 employees or more.



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;
  • Integration with the Alcoa Business System (ABS) to redesign work according to ABS principles;
  • Advanced motion capture systems to analyze employee movement in relation to specific tasks at select locations;
  • Best practice sharing globally; and
  • Root-cause risk elimination strategies to control for these 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 injuries.


We have achieved good results in reducing our ergonomic risks through several successive goal cycles beginning in 2001. We have established a 2020 goal to control at least 50% of all significant ergonomic risks against a 2011 baseline, and all global operating locations are working toward this objective. By year-end 2012, we had controlled 284 risks (15%) company-wide.


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. Our global Ergonomic Focus Group remains active in the development of tools, guidance, and training.


Control of Significant Ergonomic Risks
  Number of
Significant Risks
Risks Controlled
2011 Baseline 1,877
Year-end 2012 1,593 15%
2020 Goal 936 50%
Control of Significant Ergonomic Risks by Region
Year-end 2012, 2011 baseline
  Number of
Significant Risks

2011 Baseline
Number of
Significant Risks

Year-end 2012
Asia 77 72 6%
Australia 341 307 10%
Europe 357 230 36%
North America 570 498 13%
South America 532 486 9%


Heat Stress Management

Employees who perform demanding work, work in hot environments, or wear protective clothing may be at risk for heat-related illnesses. For years, we have maintained a comprehensive heat stress standard and management system to prevent such illnesses. The standard, which outlines the required heat stress management programs for affected locations, addresses specific issues that include the following:

  • 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.


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 and programs that promote health and safety awareness and the prevention of injuries.


Approximately one-third (6,200 employees) of the U.S. hourly population is covered by the 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 monthly basis, or more frequently as may be needed, to discuss accident prevention, review plant safety reports, and recommend improvements to health and safety procedures. The committee also is involved in plant education efforts related to safety awareness and accident prevention, both on and off the job. On an annual basis, Alcoa and the USW jointly sponsor a conference on safety and health that is attended by hourly and management representatives from each of the master locations.


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


Healthy Employees

Key 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 their personal health risks and control them;
  • 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. In recent years, these research activities have focused on the following broad areas:

  • Factors associated with injury, chronic disease, absenteeism, and disability;
  • Benefits design; and
  • Flags for early hearing loss.


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.


During the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, this same Alcoa/Yale/Stanford partnership team was responsible for developing a response plan to keep our employees healthy, and subsequently responded to the avian influenza concern of 2006 and the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009/2010. This team remains on alert to anticipate and prepare for other potential emerging infectious diseases.


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—focused on establishing employee assistance programs (EAPs) and providing annual influenza vaccines to employees who wanted one.


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 the following achieved during the year:

  • A seven-fold increase in the number of location-based wellness teams, which are now united under a common strategy and approach;
  • 524 wellness programs (up from 30 in 2011), with one-third of the workforce participating in at least one program;
  • 407 employees and dependents actively working on quitting tobacco at the end of 2012 due, in part, to a major tobacco cessation initiative; 
  • An updated PROCAM health risk calculator that was translated into eight languages for a global rollout in early 2013; and
  • Health risk data reporting capability expanded to every U.S. location.


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

  • Physical activity, nutrition, tobacco usage, and well-being (data-based initiatives);
  • Implementation of biometric screenings;
  • Promotion of heart health and the use of the PROCAM health risk calculator; and
  • Maintenance of a smoke-free indoor workplace worldwide, with an aspiration to achieve a tobacco-free campus at every location.


Our 2012 employee survey, Global Voices, gathered employee perceptions of our various wellness and culture of health activities. The statement “A culture of health exists within Alcoa” received a 76% favorable response rate from the respondents compared to 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 for achieving our ideal state of optimized health and well-being for all employees.


With the initial rollout of the Alcoa Global Wellness Initiative, this basic infrastructure and resource availability took on increasing importance. Our goal is to ensure that every location has access to capable, well-credentialed healthcare providers to assist in the effective implementation of our health and medical standards, and to support the implementation of wellness at the location level in a holistic and integrated manner.


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 continuous training and assistance.


Management of Chronic Illness

Alcoa maintains a global health standard that enables and supports employees living with chronic diseases, including life-threatening and transmittable diseases like HIV/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, we have a formal process to address EHS issues for new projects and major expansions of existing locations where potential—or the perception for potential—EHS risks to the community could exist.


One component is a Community Health Impact Assessment, which 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 have an internal lead team focused on understanding and responding to community EHS concerns. 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 2012:

  • Canada: A public/private partnership to create a new service center in an underserved area to address men’s health issues, a recognized community need with limited existing resources.
  • Guinea: A project to help mitigate a cholera outbreak in the Boké prefecture that consisted of cholera vaccinations, the distribution of hygiene kits, awareness-raising and information campaigns, radio programs, and the renovation of two cholera treatment centers.
  • Hungary: Improvements in the educational facilities in a county hospital to elevate the status of the facility to an accredited university teaching hospital, with an eventual research dimension.
  • Russia: Programs to improve health behaviors in the community and its youth that include long-term wellness activities and the introduction of the concept of a healthy lifestyle. (Read the case study.)
  • United States: A diabetes management and education program in Simi Valley, California, and a project to improve access to quality prenatal care for pregnant women in rural Michigan.


Customer Health/Product Safety

Alcoa has 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

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

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