2020 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. Our strong safety culture and management begins with and is led by our Executive Leadership Team and is the responsibility of every manager within Greif. To ensure our policies fairly represent the entirety of our workforce, 100 percent of our workforce is represented by safety committees comprised of colleagues and management at all our production facilities. 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 global health and safety efforts were more important than ever as we carefully worked to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Greif, we provide critical and essential goods manufacturing and distribution, packaging and protecting goods and materials that serve the greater needs of communities around the world. Given our position, Greif was recognized as an essential business and has operated throughout the pandemic across our global portfolio by adhering to local, state and national regulations in more than 40 countries. To ensure colleague safety in response to COVID-19, we established a global task force and multiple regional task forces, which met at least weekly and more often as needed. Our task forces, and management at all levels, continuously monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our colleagues, communities and business continuity. In addition, we proactively modified and adopted new health and safety measures and practices including:

  • Maintaining strict procedures at all operations, such as visitor bans, with extra provisions in place for business-critical logistics providers and subcontractors
  • Enhancing cleaning and sanitation protocols throughout facilities and offices
  • Enhancing PPE requirements to ensure customer products are not touched by bare hands
  • Providing colleagues with up-to-date instructions and recommendations on how best to optimize personal hygiene, disinfecting and social distancing practices
  • Staggering production teams where needed to further enhance social distancing requirements
  • Encouraging non-production colleagues to work from home or remotely and supporting them in this transition

For up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19 and our ongoing commitments to the health and safety of our colleagues and to serve our customers please refer to the Greif Coronavirus (COVID-19) Customer Update.

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 calls and potentially life-altering, life-threatening and life-ending safety events. Through LIFE we have raised awareness and implemented programs to address critical safety behaviors at each of our facilities, such as suspended load-related safety, lockout-tagout procedures and enhanced machine guarding. The program led to the introduction of our PIT-Pedestrian Policy,  which helps 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 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 replaced the risk index with an improved LIFE metric and implemented corrective actions tracking for LIFE events. We have also implemented a process to share all medical cases and LIFE events using the SBI format on a one page document across all our Global Industrial Packaging (GIP) business unit.


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 2020, we delivered 18.26 hours of safety training per production colleague, an increase from 17.77 in 2019.

To help our leaders establish a stronger safety performance culture and encourage all colleagues to be accountable and keep themselves and others safe, we began offering virtual safety leadership training to plant managers at GIP North America, EMEA and APAC facilities in 2020. The leadership training provides our safety leaders with the knowledge and resources to reinforce the importance of safety to colleagues, address safety issues and be alert to risks and successfully facilitate meaningful dialogue through our Commitment-Based Safety / Quality (CBS/Q) program. The CBS/Q program highlights the value of daily safety. At the start of each day or shift, teams begin with a 15-minute discussion around safety and quality, encouraging a safety and quality culture within the work teams. The meetings provide a daily opportunity for colleagues to talk openly about any concerns and creates an environment where proactive safety behaviors are valued. They identify potential safety hazards within their job function, articulate and rank their safety performance, and make pledges to take responsibility for their actions. The leadership training and CBS/Q program will be in place across all GIP facilities globally in 2021.

In 2020, we launched TAKE2 to 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 workday. Colleagues then complete and sign a TAKE2 analysis. This allows them to stop and ensure they are thinking of not only their own safety, but also the safety of their colleagues. The last step involves a lead person, supervisor or manager, signing the TAKE2 analysis before the colleague is allowed to begin the non-routine task. Through this program, we also place an increased focus on safety risks our colleagues may face at home that are relevant to the workplace, and vice versa.

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 our operations, but considers business- and facility-specific safety risks that drive global metrics.

To promote a continuous focus on safety, Paper Packaging & Services (PPS) facilities hold weekly safety calls attended by all General Managers, senior leadership and other select colleagues from each facility. During the calls, 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. The Mill Group also began a series of learning discussions in 2020 centered on Human Operational Performance, to better understand how factors such as human error can impact safety.

Sites within PPS have placed increased focus on pedestrian and mobile equipment interaction, lockout-tagout, machine guarding, job safety analysis and risk and hazard recognition as part of our continued efforts to embed a safety culture across all Greif facilities. We are also proud to continue some innovative safety practices from Caraustar’s legacy safety programs. For example, Caraustar had established a program across a number of sites 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. In late 2020, PPS began piloting a virtual Athletic Trainer program for smaller facilities with plans to expand its use over time. 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.

Our renewed focus on health and safety resulted in a 20 percent reduction in MCR year over year. We focused our efforts on facilities where we saw increased safety incidents in 2019. We implemented focused safety facility plans and reinforced goals and actions on the largest safety risks, and the risks that led to incidents at each facility. For example, all legacy Caraustar mills and a third of our Industrial Packaging and Recycling sites received a third-party safety audit in 2020. Results of the findings are shared across other sites with common solutions and improvements. Audits will continue across PPS in 2021. Since 2007, we have experienced a 66 percent reduction in MCR, improving from 3.51 to 1.18. Similarly, since 2011, Lost Workday Case Rate (LWCR) has improved from 1.3 to 0.62, a 52 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/Quality, Behavior Based Safety Observation and Take Two programs are critical in strengthening our commitment to our safety culture.

Colleague 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.

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Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

All Greif colleagues in Canada and the United States have access to an employee assistance program (EAP). Greif’s EAP is a confidential work-based intervention program offering colleagues and their families informational services designed to enhance emotional, mental and general psychological well-being. The program provides preventive and proactive interventions for the early detection, identification and/or resolution of both work and personal problems that may adversely affect performance and well-being. These problems and issues may include but are not limited to, relationships, health, trauma, substance abuse, gambling and other addictions, financial problems, depression, anxiety disorders, psychiatric disorders, communication problems and coping with change.