2019 Sustainability Report

arrow blueCommitted to using financial, natural and human resources wisely without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs

Health & Safety

Protecting our colleagues’ right to work in a safe and accident-free environment.

United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsGood health and well-beingQuality educationDecent work and economic growth

Why Health & Safety Matters

Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

Explain management approach components

Health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with trade unions

GRI 403:


Colleague safety lies at the heart of our business and is our first and foremost priority. Our colleagues deserve a workspace that supports their health and safety. Our efforts work to avoid close calls and prevent injury, particularly potentially serious and life changing safety events.


Our global Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Policy provides the structure and standards that enable our safety culture. The policy is supplemented by business unit specific EHS policies for all facilities, further strengthening our commitment to safety. Our Safety Leadership Team, led by our chief administrative officer and comprised of representatives from each region and strategic business unit, manages our global EHS policy and is responsible for driving progress on policies, programs and initiatives to support a culture of safety at Greif. To ensure our policies fairly represent the entirety of our workforce, we maintain safety committees comprised of colleagues and management at all of our locations. Every two years, we conduct third-party audits at each facility to ensure compliance with all laws, regulations and policies. We use our Compliance Management System (CMS) to track health and safety tasks, including safety observations, incidents and close calls at the facility level. Our 20 global policies apply to all union and non-union colleagues in our workforce. Our Contractor Safety Policy makes provisions for the safety of our contractors.

Our Serious Injury and Fatality (SIF) global workgroup was formed in 2016 to analyze industry research regarding SIF events and methods of advancing our program. Based on their work, we introduced the Life Changing Injury and Fatality Elimination (LIFE) program in 2017 to better understand and track close call and potentially life-altering, life-threatening and life-ending safety events. Through LIFE, we introduced our PIT-Pedestrian Policy to safeguard our colleagues against the dangers of lift truck operations, the event with the highest risk of a LIFE injury in Greif’s facilities. In 2018, we continued to focus on reducing potential LIFE events in our facilities by addressing suspended load-related safety, lockout-tagout procedures and enhanced machine guarding and focusing on safety behaviors that are most important in each of our facilities. To improve LIFE incident tracking, we incorporated reporting LIFE program incidents and close calls into our CMS. We use this data to increase our knowledge and awareness of the conditions and behaviors that lead to at-risk situations, including developing a risk index to focus future decision making. In 2019, we used our LIFE data to identify global and regional leading indicators and develop safety action plans to address the highest risk injury events. In 2020, we will refine LIFE into a holistic LIFE Fatalities program. Through the program, we will replace the risk index with an improved LIFE metric and implement corrective actions tracking for LIFE events.   

Our colleagues in Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services (RIPS) North America use our Commitment-Based safety program to highlight the value of daily safety. They identify potential safety hazards within their job function, articulate and rank their safety performance and make pledges to take responsibility for their actions. In 2020 we will launch a program to help our colleagues apply a similar thought process to non-routine tasks. The program, called Take Two, will encourage our colleagues to “take two minutes” to think about the process, personal actions, equipment and potential hazards involved when they are performing a task that is not part of their normal work day. We will also place an increased focus on safety risks our colleagues may face at home that are relevant to the workplace, and vice versa.


Average Safety Training Hours

Each production colleague in our business receives safety training, ensuring our safety culture is understood and practiced every day.

Formal training continues to be critical to our safety initiatives. In 2019, we delivered 17.77 hours of safety training per production colleague, an increase from 16.28 in 2018.

In 2019 we introduced a Global Safety Scorecard and visual standards to help promote consistent safety metrics globally. The Scorecard standardizes metrics within each business unit to ensure we are evaluating safety similarly across all of our operations, but considers business- and facility-specific safety risks that drive global metrics.

Our CorrChoice facilities continued their tradition of convening safety leaders from their operations at their Annual Safety Summit in 2019. Historically, the Summit has been used to refine the safety charter, establish safety priorities and share best practices. The 2019 summit was used to reinforce the fundamentals of safety within CorrChoice, including load securement, hand safety and identifying and reducing LIFE events.

To promote a continuous focus on safety, Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) facilities, apart from our CorrChoice facilities, hold weekly safety calls attended by all General Managers, senior leadership and other select colleagues from each facility. During the call, each facility is responsible for reviewing any incidents that have occurred over the past week and there is rotating responsibility to share at least one best practice for promoting safety with the group. These calls have led to the adoption of innovative safety risk reduction and elimination solutions in every operation.

Historically, Caraustar has shared Greif’s commitment to safety among their facilities. As part of their integration into Greif, Caraustar’s legacy safety policies and procedures were evaluated in comparison to Greif’s to identify similarities and differences in support of aligning all PPS facilities to a single set of health and safety policies. In 2020, this review will be completed, and all PPS facilities will follow a single program that incorporates best practices from both programs while still accounting for facility specific risks that must be addressed to protect the safety of our colleagues. For example, Caraustar had established a program that provides our colleagues with access to an athletic trainer to help them prevent and recover from both non-work-related and work-related injuries that may result from the physical demands of the job and at home. This program is currently in use at nearly half our mills and several select PPS facilities. Additional sites are under consideration for 2020, as is a virtual athletic trainer program, which is currently being piloted in some facilities. The Industrial Products Group adopted an innovative solution that utilizes technology to analyze standard activities to identify ergonomic risks and modify workstation configurations and practices to eliminate conditions that can contribute to injury.

Goals & Progress

Greif has two Health & Safety goals:

  • Reduce Medical Case Rate (MCR) by 10 percent annually to achieve a MCR Zero in the long term.
  • Every plant will have a collaborative environmental health and safety committee consisting of both management and workers by the end of fiscal year 2025.


As of 2018, each Greif plant had a safety committee comprised of managers and colleagues. We are proud of the results that have come from our vigilance in health and safety.

We experienced an increase in MCR in 2019, which has prompted a renewed focus on safety across our organizations, specifically at facilities where we are seeing increased safety incidents. Within these facilities we have implemented focused safety facility plans and reinforced goals and actions on the largest safety risks, and the risks that have led to incidents at each facility. Within our PPS operations, our two-day 8 Fundamentals of Safety Leadership training was delivered to over 250 leaders. All PPS facilities have shared our focus on separating mobile equipment and people, a continual focus from our pedestrian safety priority. Our Mill Group partnered with a third-party to document and deliver training on all major lockout procedures at each of the facilities. While we have experienced an increase in MCR in 2019, we have experienced a 57 percent reduction in MCR since 2007, improving from 3.51 to 1.49. Since 2011, LWCR has improved from 1.3 to 0.69, a 47 percent reduction.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to safety and reaching the goals we have set for ourselves. We believe our overall safety strategy and culture of safety that we have created in our organization is effective and provides the foundation we need to continue reducing MCR and LWCR in the coming years. We believe our Commitment Based Safety, Behavior Based Safety Observation and Take Two programs are critical in strengthening our commitment to our safety culture.

Employee Health & Safety

*MCR, or Medical Case Rate, measures the number of recordable injuries per 100 full-time colleagues in a 12-month period.
**LWCR, or Lost Workday Case Rate, measures the number of recordable injuries resulting in lost workdays per 100 full-time colleagues in a 12-month period.
*** 2019 data includes Caraustar for only March forward – no data included for first 4 months of fiscal year.

Highlight Stories
Highlight Stories

Chairman’s Safety Excellence Award

Each facility that achieves an MCR of less than one and third-party EHS audit score of 90 percent* or greater wins the Chairman’s Safety Excellence Award. Globally, 101 of our approximately 250 production facilities received the award in 2019.

*Sites receiving first time audits are only required to achieve a score of 80 percent to qualify