Promoting safety, health and wellbeing


Proactively seeking to keep our employees healthy enhances productivity, reduces stress and enables creativity and innovation. Promoting wellbeing also has a direct impact on the bottom line.

Health and safety committees are in place at all our operations. Through these committees, our people are consulted about the development/review of policies and procedures and changes that affect workplace safety or health.

Representation in each region is as follows:

  • In SEU, formal health and safety committees are in place at different levels of the business in line with statutory requirements. All (100%) of all SEU employees are represented by the safety committees.
  • In SNA, all unions have the opportunity to participate in joint management worker safety committees.
  • In SSA, (including Sappi Limited) health and safety representatives are elected from non-supervisory staff. In line with legislation, there is one representative for every 50 workers.
  • Sappi Trading does not have formal joint management- worker health and safety committees due to the small size of the offices, but there are appointed safety officers.


Sappi Europe

Employee wellbeing programmes are decentralised and each mill, together with the mill lead teams, decides on their priorities for the year. Progammes vary across the mills and include preventative medical health care check-ups; flu vaccinations and immunisations as well as support of employee sports and social activities, amongst others.

Kirkniemi Mill embraced the wellbeing theme throughout 2017, with different related initiatives every month including nutrition, everyday exercise and mindset. The interactive nature of the initiative was designed to inspire employees to interact, and make informed choices that support their wellbeing and employability. The wellbeing drive included Will 2018!―a one-year programme with three subgroups: Lose Weight! Move! and Keep going! managed by external health care professionals. Participants were given the tools, support and motivation to achieve their targets.

Sappi North America

We encourage all salaried and hourly employees (and their spouses) who participate in one of Sappi ‘s medical plans to complete a health risk assessment (HRA) questionnaire. We continue to have wellness events, such as healthy cooking demonstrations and wellness webinars, at our sites.

Sappi Southern Africa

The complexity of the SSA workforce and employment legislation has resulted in a more structured employee wellbeing function. We categorise our health and wellbeing programmes based on occupational health; primary health care and employee wellbeing.

  • Occupational health: Our practice is governed through standards and best operating practices aimed at preventing harm to employees at work. The major risks we are challenged with due to our work environment are noise, vapours, fumes and ergonomic risks. To mitigate the noise risk, we conduct repeated hearing loss measurements and have focused on reducing or eliminating noise levels in the work environment.
  • Primary health care: We continue to focus on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as primary health care issues. At some of our mills we have partnered with the provincial health services to provide chronic medication and HIV/AIDS retroviral drugs to the clinics at our mills. As indicated by the graph below, the mortality rate from HIV/AIDS within SSA has been reducing steadily over time.
  • Employee wellbeing: These programmes focus on educating, empowering and providing employees with the skills to take ownership of their wellbeing. The programmes include support against obesity, substance abuse (alcohol and drugs), basic counselling for referrals to external providers, financial wellness, trauma counselling, work stress issues and other health issues and relationship issues.

HIV/AIDS mortality within Sappi (National mortality rate: 2%)

HIV/AIDS mortality within Sappi (National mortality rate: 2%) | Graph


Our management approach to safety

The seriousness with which we view the safety of our employees and stakeholders is highlighted by the restatement of our group values to emphasise our commitment to safety: At Sappi, we do business with integrity and courage; making smart decisions which we execute with speed. Our values are underpinned by an unrelenting focus on and commitment to safety.

All three regions within the group have safety programmes focused on creating an environment where no person will suffer permanent disability or loss of life. We do not accept that injuries and accidents are inevitable and remain committed to Project Zero, our group-wide safety initiative, with the continuance of improved personal behaviour and making safe choices underpinned by risk assessments, group sharing of all incidents, root cause investigations, enforcement of compliance and leadership engagement.

We have a global safety goal in place, supported by specific safety targets in each region with specific action plans in place to achieve these targets (see Targets to view our global and regional safety targets).

Certification systems and audits

All our pulp and paper mills are certified to the internationally recognised OHSAS 18001 Health and Safety Management System. A core element of this approach is the hazard identification and risk assessment process in terms of which task-specific hazards and risks are identified, evaluated in terms of current controls and managed by establishing additional controls and risk reduction activities. Roles, responsibilities and accountability are documented, with management in all regions actively involved in our safety programmes. Like preventive action, corrective action involves root-cause analysis with the emphasis on improvement rather than blame. In addition to actual incidents, the intent is for all near-misses to be documented and also undergo root-cause investigation.

Annual external safety audits are conducted at operations. Internal safety tools and techniques which have proven to be effective are shared within the group with particular emphasis on the empowerment of our workforce to identify where and how improvements can be made. We also share regular feedback with our employees on performance measured against our standards to instil a sense of ownership and awareness.


We take the safety of contractor employees as seriously as we do that of our own employees by emphasising safety awareness and competence through ongoing training programmes which take into account differing levels of ability, literacy and responsibility. Training related to health and safety hazards and safe work practices is reinforced by educational pamphlets, posters, videos as well as a Global Safety Awareness Day around which each facility arranges a week of focused activities to reinforce and reinvigorate our year-round work programme on safety.

In addition to addressing hazards in the workplace by means of the OHSAS 18001 related systems we also address ‘at risk behaviour’ of our employees and contractor employees by means of behaviour-based safety (BBS).

Safety terminology key to graphs and terms used | Image