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Volvic - Dramatically improving workplace safety

Volvic now has a structured, coherent safety system which is durable and adaptable for continuous improvement
Jean-Michel Chopin,
Plant Director, Volvic


There were concerns at the Volvic site that the number of staff accidents was higher than at other food sites in the Danone Group. The accident ratio recorded at the Volvic site had reached 30 on the accepted accident rating scale used in France – such a high figure ratio reflects a disproportionately high number of accidents, and therefore implies poor workplace safety standards. In comparison, another water brand site recorded a very low 6 (which implies excellent workplace safety standards). Danone imposed strict goals on its operations in the areas of the environment and workplace safety. Top management gave Volvic 2 years to get the figure down to below 10, and insisted that the figure should be under 20 after the first year. Each site is autonomous so the Volvic site management team needed a strong plan and dedicated partners to drive a concerted and effective effort.


In late 2001, Bureau Veritas was called upon to help the Volvic site achieve its ambitious goal – to lower the accident ratio to below 10 (reflecting very good workplace safety), in just 2 years. Using an exclusive Bureau Veritas software tool called VeriSAFE, our auditors studied 3 axes of analysis: organizational, technical and behavioral. From an initial audit a precise action plan was produced. Another piece of software, VeriPERFORMANCE, was reengineered to evaluate the site's safety performance. Early results showed that many accidents involved machinery, forklift trucks and transport vehicles. But it was also found that accident figures were artificially inflated due to incorrect record keeping. For example, accidents on the way to or from work had mistakenly been counted.

Also, a staff member taking days off to have surgery should not have been counted because the injury was sustained under a previous employer. Accident hotspots were identified, priorities were determined and maintenance was reviewed. Aspects taken into account included noise, air and chemicals. Key to the success of the mission, a project team was assembled with members from both Bureau Veritas and the Volvic site. A safety manager was appointed and responsibilities were divided between project team members into specific areas including fire, maintenance and machinery. The team met once a month to discuss safety issues and trigger improvements. Importantly, there was a strong push to get the personnel actively involved in safety. Bureau Veritas consultants coached everyone on the site.



The 3 year assignment succeeded in helping Volvic achieve its primary goals. The accident ratio for the site dropped to below 10 (on the accepted industry scale), and Volvic is clearly a safer place to work. The Volvic management team was able to demonstrate its strong and improved safety system. By working with Bureau Veritas, the company enjoyed quick results without having to hire people on a permanent basis. Volvic has also been able to negotiate lower insurance premiums. The program has proven itself to be sustainable long-term. It is adaptable to change and facilitates continuous improvement.

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> Client: Volvic

> Client industry: Water bottling

> Client size:
- 3,427 million euros turnover*
- 1,200 employees at the Volvic site
*2004 figures for Danone beverages

> Client profile: A subsidiary of the Danone Group, Volvic bottles a complete range of natural mineral waters for sale around the world.

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