Interview with Geneviève Thiaucourt and Florence Triou

Coinciding with the publication of the Group's new Health Policy, Geneviève Thiaucourt, Health at Work and Medical Director, and Florence Triou, General Manager of Saint-Gobain Ceilings France, Belgium and Luxembourg, who jointly led the working group that worked on this new policy, explain why it concerns us all.

Entretien croisé : Geneviève Thiaucourt et Florence Triou

 

In 2013, Saint-Gobain established its first Health Policy. What is a Health Policy and what is its purpose?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: It is a document that clearly expresses the commitment, vision and ambition of the Group and its General Management to promote health. For it to work, it must be shared by all Group employees.

Florence Triou: This document also reflects the importance the Group places on health in its strategic vision, as illustrated by our roadmap Grow & Impact.

Geneviève Thiaucourt: Health is also part of our purpose: Making the World a Better Home.

Who does it target?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: It targets all our stakeholders: our employees of course, but also our customers and the people living near our sites. For our employees, it is means developing a healthy work environment to avoid insofar as possible any potential negative impact on their health, and increasing our positive impact ensuring prevention and promoting health: medical monitoring, awareness campaigns, access to healthcare, job retention and workstation design. For our customers, it is a question of providing products and solutions that are safe for health and, beyond that, provide wellbeing and comfort. Finally, for our local residents, our sites must not be a source of nuisance. They must also contribute positively to their daily lives.

Florence Triou: Promoting health among all our stakeholders is a clearly stated aim, as we seek not only to comply with regulations, but also, where possible, to exceed them.

Geneviève Thiaucourt: Clearly, the regulatory requirements differ considerably between countries. This is particularly true of acceptable exposure limits for hazardous substances. We believe it is important that everyone the Group and our stakeholders all enjoy the same level of protection.

All of this already exists. So, what is new in the Health Policy put forward today?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: The health policy was originally defined in 2013, almost 10 years ago. It was a first health policy, mainly focused on the employees. Since then, the world has changed, especially in the last two years. The Group has also changed. The company's involvement as a citizen in the life of the world is more pronounced. This new Health Policy strengthens our ambition towards customers and local residents, but also towards employees: for example the CARE program, which did not exist in 2013, as well as remote working as part of work-life balance. We were focused on protection, but now we want to act more widely in terms of prevention. In this new Health Policy, we are strengthening inclusion, health promotion and psychological wellbeing. A good example of this was given at the EHS awards, with a Ruby awarded to a logistics center in Denmark that hired mentally handicapped people locally.

How was it developed?

Florence Triou: In May 2021, we set up three working groups - one for each stakeholder* - made up of employees with different skills (operational, EHS, etc.) and geographical origins, in order to take into account the Group’s diversity. Their conclusions were submitted to a "sponsor committee", led by Claire Pedini, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility. The content of this health policy was compiled by these working groups, and therefore really comes from the field.

How does it work in practice?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: We primarily aim for this policy to be known and understood by everyone. Managers must take the Health Policy onboard, use the manager kit and roll it out among their teams. In their day-to-day work, most of our employees will only be concerned by specific policy areas. The common objective is for all managers to ask themselves, asks the right questions. For example: "How does it work on a daily basis?” "Is my working environment healthy?” “What are the risks (psychological wellbeing, noise, exposure to pollutants, ergonomic handling, biological, vibration, etc.) and how can I avoid or reduce them?”  Employees may also ask about their own working conditions: "What medical supervision benefits do I have?”  They should be able to report health risks, as they do for safety. And report if a colleague is not well. The manager must be able to answer their questions and ensure that a healthy working environment is maintained.

So, the manager’s role is crucial, isn’t it?

Florence Triou: Yes, the manager has a key role to play in these health issues. Personally, I attach a great deal of importance to the wellbeing and health of my employees, particularly their mental health. It is not only a question of humanity, but also of economic performance. Indeed, people are all the more efficient if they are in good physical and mental health, and fulfilled by their work. Health is therefore the basis of everything.  Looking after the health and wellbeing of your teams means constantly striving for an organization where everyone is in their place and can give their best, for the benefit of all. An employee who is not doing well (especially psychologically) is a team that is not doing well, and the team's results suffer. It is therefore essential to know how to listen. All managers must feel free and empowered to discuss these health issues with their teams, and with employees on a one-to-one basis. Health is not taboo, it is part of the business and contributes to the business.

What role do the EHS teams play?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: The EHS establishes guidelines, objectives and action plans, and supports and oversees their implementation. However, the Health Policy also covers Sustainable Development, Operational Excellence, Marketing, Sales, Purchasing, Human Resources and R&D, particularly for subjects related to the composition of our products, both for the customer and the end user, and for the employees who produce and use them. 

How is health and progress measured?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: Based on some available indicators. For example, since 2021, we have been using HICE (Health Indicator for oCcupational Exposure) as an indicator for the working environment and risk exposure associated with our businesses. As a result, we now know and monitor how many workplaces are exposed to more than 85 dB. There are also many environmental indicators. Our Mental Well Being indicator is based on the me@saint-gobain global internal survey, which includes 8 questions about employee wellbeing.

What is the next step in terms of Health Policy?

Geneviève Thiaucourt: We already need to roll out this new Health Policy to all employees. We then want to strengthen Mental Well Being, in particular by encouraging greater use of the dedicated app. We also want to develop a global health promotion program. Today, all health promotion programs are regional site based. For example, there is no global cardiovascular health promotion program.

Today we have a database of substances and a tool (SAFHEAR) that allows each entity concerned to draw up and document its own inventory of substances and chemicals used or generated during production processes, and to assess the risk to operators. In 2023, this will become an indicator: HICE Chemicals. Clearly, the quality of the substances used in our products is a major concern for the Group, not to mention the control of our environmental emissions.

Finally, we are working on deploying our ergonomics standards and guidelines.  We are committed deploying the various aspects of this policy and to monitor its application as much as possible. 

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* The 3 group leaders were: Adriana Rillo, Human Resources Director Latin America Region (working group on employees), Olivier Mercadal, Deputy General Manager of Saint-Gobain Distribution Bâtiment France (working group on customers), Montserrat de la Fuente Trabanco, CEO of Saint-Gobain Sekurit France (working group on residents).