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Reviewing our
safety performance in 2019

Despite tremendous focus on safety, safety performance globally in 2019 was poor, with four deeply regrettable fatalities in South Africa. Lost-time trends in SSA and SEU deteriorated, but on a positive note SNA continued to improve its performance with the best achieved injury rate.

What are we doing about our safety performance?



  • Adapting to the Sappi safety culture, has proven more challenging then expected for previously acquired entities. Accordingly, the region is focusing on driving a cultural change founded on individual responsibility and simplifying rules for better understanding
  • Audits to identify the main gaps have been conducted. The resulting actions are well on track and are starting to show improvements by an increasing time span between LTI's


  • Incorporate the newly acquired Matane Mill into safety programmes
  • Continue to drive total injury reduction through hazard identification and controls
  • Engage the hearts and minds of employees on the journey to zero injuries 24/7 at work and at home

Our management approach

All three regions have safety programmes with the objective of 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 safety focus is based on improved personal behaviour and making safe choices underpinned by risk assessments, group sharing of all incidents and root cause investigations, enforcement of compliance and leadership engagement.

Our values are underpinned by an unrelenting focus on and commitment to safety

We want all our people to understand how to prioritise safety, how to achieve production and other targets without compromising safety, how to be active in calling out unsafe behaviour and help their colleagues to understand safety and the implications of non-conformance.



  • Following the fatality at Ngodwana Mill, DuPont Sustainable Solutions are assisting in further integrating safety management with the operational/manufacturing system—an approach that will be rolled out to other mills.
  • All manufacturing risk assessments were reviewed and an action plan formulated for each of the identified weaknesses.
  • Continued focus on the eight lifesaving rules—non-compliance can result in dismissal.
  • Replacing of the existing deviation management system with a single system supplied by Isometrix will allow direct access for employees and contractors to register their deviations. The system will contribute towards a safer working environment by allowing better management and collection of data. It will be a web-based system with a mobile application.
  • Encourage and grow the social media activities on Facebook in Sappi Forests as part of the Stop, Think and Act messaging and continue with the Train the Trainer safety awareness rollouts.

Our safety statistics

Own and contractor fatalities

Tragically, there were four fatalities in SSA: A general contractor died at Ngodwana Mill when he was caught in a nip point of a conveyor belt. A forestry contractor employee died in a vehicle accident while another died in a chainsaw accident. A third forestry contractor employee died when a dead tree fell on him during harvesting.

All our pulp and paper mills are certified to the internationally recognised OHSAS 18001 health and safety management system.

Sappi group – employee (own) contractor LTIFR

The LTIFR for own employees and contractors deteriorated from the previous year and against the prior five years. Own Injury indexes (II) were an improvement on last year, but did not match our 2014 achievement. Contractor injury index was impacted by the four fatalities.

LTIFR — Lost-time injury frequency rate based on a Sappi groupwide standard for man hours.
LTIFR = (LTI × 200,000) / Hours of exposure or hours worked II Injury Index — Provides an overall sense of safety within the measured unit.
II = LTIFR × LTISR (lost-time injury severity rate which is the number of days lost due to injury mulitplied by 200,000 divided by the actual hours worked.

Sappi Europe – Employee (own)
contractor LTIFR

While contractor LTIFR improved, own employee contractor LTIFR deteriorated. However, there were no significant incidents in 2019, reflected in a significant improvement in the II figure.

Significant regional accomplishments in 2019


  • Region: SEU reached 2 million man hours without LTI
  • Stockstadt Mill: Achieved 1.0 million man hours without LTI
  • R&D Gratkorn: Achieved 1.0 million man hours without LTI

Sappi North America – Employee (own) contractor LTIFR

For the second consecutive year SNA’s own employee LTIFR was the best ever. A total of six lost-time injuries occurred in FY19 compared to nine in FY18 and 11 in FY17. Year-on-year, there was a 25% reduction in total injuries and a reduction of 35% in lost work days.


  • Allentown: Experienced zero recordable lost-time incidents in FY2019 and completed an external OSHA1 voluntary protection programme audit, maintaining its Star status.
  • Cloquet and Somerset Mills: Total injuries (first aid and OSHA cases) were down 35% and 29% respectively from FY18.
  • Westbrook Mill: Essentially matching its LTIFR record of 2016 (2019: 0.61, 2016: 0.59

Sappi Southern Africa – Employee (own) contractor LTIFR

Safety performance was disappointing, with all figures deteriorating.


  • Saiccor Mill: Contractors achieved 1 million manhours without an LTI in September 2019
  • Sappi Forests Zululand: Achieved 1.8 million manhours without an LTI
  • Lignotech SA: Achieved seven years without a lost-time injury on 31 August 2019
  • Tugela Mill: Achieved a new record for LTI free days of 699 days (9 January 2019) — at the time 1.6 million LTI-free hour

1 The OSHA incidence rate is applicable only to SNA and is arrived at by taking the number of recordable incidents * 200,000 / man hours. A recordable incident is any report to a medical practitioner.


Putting safety first at Gratkorn Mill

The rebuild of PM9 at Gratkorn Mill was executed with zero lost-time injuries (LTI), on time, below budget and with a running overall equipment efficiency (OEE) of 84%.

Apart from Sappi’s own employees, almost 500 additional contractors were on site daily, resulting in a total of 100,000 man hours worked (62,000 hours for contractors and 36,000 hours for Sappi staff). Despite the unusual working conditions, long working hours, considerable pressure and workload, the target of zero LTIs was achieved.

The starting point for safe implementation of the project was introducing a safety concept comprising:

  • Safety first – even if it was time consuming
  • A joint site safety evaluation between Sappi and the suppliers
  • Strict safety project rules
  • A motivated, highly engaged, qualified and experienced team with detailed knowledge
  • Contractor instructions at the gate, followed by a safety
  • Contractors were required to wear helmets indicating their name and company name and showing that they had the passed safety test
  • A daily safety meeting with content escalated to the operational project meeting.

A further crucial factor that contributed to the success of the project was the high number of daily behaviour-based safety (BBS) observations conducted. The fact that the Gratkorn management team also participated in the BBS observations showed their commitment to the importance of safety.

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