Health and Fitness
Protecting and promoting good health is not just a social responsibility and part of Volkswagen’s corporate culture but also vital to the Company’s ongoing economic health and viability. The Volkswagen Group’s integrated approach to health management goes well beyond traditional preventive health care and occupational safety and also includes a member of aspects such as work organization, ergonomics, leadership style and prospects for each individual.
The Group Production Ergonomics department, Health Services, the Works Council and the Occupational Health and Safety department are collaborating with Group brands to develop standards for an integrated approach to ergonomics.
Ergonomic improvements across the entire product development process and throughout production ensure that workplace quality and the stress and strain on employees caused by production processes are taken into account at the vehicle planning and design stages. The common objective is to combine ergonomically state-of-the-art workplaces and innovative work processes using a mix of scientific findings and practical experience. The successful switch to the new Volkswagen Golf model in 2012 provided an opportunity to make ongoing improvements in workplace ergonomics. The deployment of occupational assistants on the production lines means that employees are able to receive advice and guidance directly at their workplace about how to implement their workflows more ergonomically.
To reduce the impact on health of shift work, Volkswagen AG plants have introduced new shift patterns. Ergoshift patterns involving short-cycle, forward-rotating shifts facilitate the body’s transition from one shift pattern to the next. Surveys among around 1,200 employees across five Volkswagen AG plants show that these ergo-shift patterns impose less stress on employees’ fitness, health and well-being.
Now established at Volkswagen locations, “Ergonomics and Demographics Days” not only provide a forum for experts but also involve the entire workforce. As part of the Company’s Holistic Ergonomics Strategy, the 2013 “Ergonomics Day” at the Volkswagen brand in Wolfsburg (Germany) presented measures for adapting both products and production processes to different age groups.
MAN has put all jobs at its production plants through a systematic ergonomic assessment as a way of managing demographic change, boosting employee performance and preventing physical impairment.
Integrated Health Management
The Audi Checkup has been running since 2006, while Volkswagen introduced its Checkup in 2010. The Checkup is a free, comprehensive preventive medical examination available to all employees. It helps maintain and improve the health, fitness and performance of the workforce. Employees value the Checkup’s high diagnostic quality: nearly 61,000 staff have so far undergone Volkswagen Checkups, while almost 60,000 Audi Checkups have been carried out.
Following the successful introduction of the Checkup at sites in Germany, the Company has systematically broadened the range of both internal and external preventive health measures and training provision linked to the initiative. And the rollout of the Volkswagen Checkup has continued across many Group sites abroad, while other Group companies have been bringing existing screening and preventive health programs into line with the Group-wide standards represented by the Checkup. In 2013 these included ŠKODA in the Czech Republic, where more than 15,000 ŠKODA Checkups have since been carried out. MAN also offers employees an annual MAN Checkup as part of a multilevel preventive health program.
Extensive building work and new medical facilities at a range of Group sites helped to further optimize health provision for employees in 2013: for example, health centers were built or refurbished at Volkswagen in Osnabrück (Germany), Puebla (Mexico) and Uitenhage (South Africa) and at the SEAT plant in Barcelona (Spain).
To ensure a common standard of health provision across the Group, a multi-level audit system was developed in 2010, comprising self-audit and expert audit. Many sites have already successfully completed a self-audit, and some have conducted an expert audit.
Ergonomic improvements across the entire product development process and throughout production ensure that workplace quality and the stress and strain on employees caused by production processes are taken into account at the vehicle planning and design stages.
Following the successful introduction of the Checkup at sites in Germany, the Company has systematically broadened the range of both internal and external preventive health measures and training provision linked to the initiative.
Combating Infectious Diseases
Volkswagen continued its international commitment to combating infectious diseases in 2013, for example through measures against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. A particular focus was South Africa where, according to current statistics, HIV infection is becoming more prevalent among women aged between 25 and 35. In view of the continuing high rates of HIV infection, Volkswagen has continued with an information, advice and testing program as part of its Checkup. In 2013, the rate of new infection was below 1%.
As part of management development, supervisors in the Company are being made aware of the need to take greater account of the links between leadership and employees’ health in the way they do their job as managers. In addition, since early 2012, Volkswagen in Germany has been organizing compulsory qualification modules on occupational safety for all future supervisors. On the basis of these qualification modules, the qualification building blocks for future Meister were standardized in 2013 and made a compulsory part of the group leader qualification. Since 2009, occupational safety officers at all German sites have been receiving occupational safety qualification. 28
On the basis of the Group’s occupational safety management system (KAMS), which was introduced in 2010, the companies in the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Division and the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Division have now carried out a comprehensive analysis of their existing occupational safety structures and processes. The findings are now available across the Group via a central database, and examples of good practice across the Volkswagen Group are systematically disseminated. A health and safety committee has been set up at each included site to represent the entire local workforce. Moreover, all those involved have agreed to conduct a brand-specific audit at all Volkswagen sites around the world from 2012. The Group’s occupational safety management system was successfully audited at Anchieta (Brazil), Puebla (Mexico), Poznan (Poland), and Osnabrück (Germany) during the reporting year. 33
Bratislava Wins 2013 Occupational Safety Cup
2013 saw the 28th annual Occupational Safety Cup competition for Volkswagen brand and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles plants in Europe: once again, the cup for safest plant went to the Bratislava site in Slovakia. The wide range of occupational safety measures continues to help reduce the frequency and consequences of accidents.
Zero-Accident Initiative at MAN Diesel & Turbo
MAN Diesel & Turbo launched its zero-accident initiative in 2012 with the aim of achieving further substantial reductions in the number and severity of work-related accidents. Alongside measures such as safety training courses and workshops to enable employees to share experiences, staff are also encouraged to be proactive. The aim is to create a culture in which each individual feels responsible for his or her own safety – and for the safety of colleagues. Below are just a few of the measures taken as part of the initiative at MAN plants:
- accident analysis and lessons learned (Augsburg, Germany)
- reduction in the number of injuries involving crushing (Oberhausen, Germany)
- safety trail to raise awareness of risk (Zurich, Switzerland)
- reporting and assessment of ‘near misses’ and hazardous situations (Copenhagen/Fredrikshavn, Denmark)
Company Medical Services and Emergency Situation Management
Medical services and health care for Volkswagen Group employees are in line with national legislation and internal regulations as well as with Group guidelines on protecting and promoting health. All Group locations have at least emergency health provision, while most locations offer medical services under the oversight of a doctor.
A tailored rehabilitation program operates in many locations to reintegrate employees after serious and/or long-term illness, offering early intervention and job-related support. The aim is to restore or stabilize the employees’ capacity and performance ability within three to six months. Depending on the particular needs in each case, the program also now includes preventive provision such as medical physical therapy, rehabilitation sport, functional training, and special back exercises.
Support and mentoring opportunities for employees with mental health or psychosomatic problems are also being expanded on an ongoing basis. Among other measures, employees with health problems have access to inhouse medical and psychological support, social coaching, a psychological counseling service and specific arrangements for psychosomatic consultations.
A preventive process for assessing the risk of psychological stress has been developed and is used to analyze jobs in a standardized and objective way. Specially trained analysts have used this to analyze more than 900 jobs as part of a pilot project. The findings will now be evaluated, with plans under way to roll the process out more widely.
Many performance-impaired employees have talents and expertise that can be developed with targeted support; it is then often possible to move these employees to a job within the Company that is in line with their capacity. This recognition underpins the Work2Work program, which has been creating new job opportunities for performance-impaired employees at Volkswagen AG since 2001. Over recent years, some 1,800 employees have benefited from the program, and over 770 people are now employed in Wolfsburg in around 90 different fields of activity that have been adapted to their specific capacity.
Audi’s “Work and Psychological Health” Program
Over the last few years, AUDI AG has been developing and implementing its “Work and Psychological Health” program on an ongoing cross-functional basis. Modules already in place within the company’s health provision include early recognition, advice and coaching for employees with mental health problems or who are at risk of addiction. Employees are also offered the opportunity for specialist mental health consultations. A further company-wide health initiative, “Audi in Balance”, is to be extended to improve communications around the issue of mental health. In collaboration with the Audi Academy, seminars aimed at specific target groups are being developed to enhance the mental wellbeing of managers and employees.
Provision for Older Employees
On the initiative of the German automotive industry’s representatives of people with severe disabilities, Volkswagen AG, AUDI AG and Porsche AG took part in a research study entitled “Ageing Healthily and Appropriately in the Automotive Industry: Career-Long Participation and Inclusion”, known by its German acronym, PINA. This cooperation project, which is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Labour, also involves Darmstadt University of Technology and the University of Cologne. The partners are developing tools and initiatives to maintain the health and working capacity of older employees. The initiative aims not only to network operational processes and actors but also to focus on the interfaces with bodies responsible for prevention and rehabilitation, such as health, pension and accident insurance providers.
Volkswagen supports employees making the transition from employment to retirement. The Group’s internal “Senior Expert” program, for example, saw more than 400 retired Volkswagen employees passing on their experience in 2013, to mostly younger colleagues. These Senior Experts make a valuable contribution to knowledge transfer at Volkswagen, enabling valuable expertise to remain within the Company.
Program for Older Workers at ŠKODA
ŠKODA’s “Seniority Programme” in the Czech Republic has for many years been taking preventive measures to promote the health of older workers. Specially trained experts ensure that older production workers benefit from a working environment that protects their health, while the company holds regular “health days” to raise awareness of the issues. ŠKODA has received both national and international awards for this initiative.
More than 400 retired Volkswagen employees passed their experience on to younger colleagues in 2013. These Senior Experts make a valuable contribution to knowledge transfer.