Health and safety at Novo Nordisk

We employ approximately 42,000 people worldwide who all have a fundamental right to a healthy and safe working environment. We believe that providing people with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally in a place of work that supports both their physical health and mental well-being is critical to our success as a business.

We offer a healthy and engaging workplace, supported by a comprehensive Health & Safety programme. 

Ensuring a healthy and safe working environment is part of our foundational values, as expressed in Novo Nordisk Way Essential 8. We have implemented our Health & Safety management system across our entire global organisation to ensure such conditions for all employees and contractors.


Policies and governance

Our Health & Safety in Novo Nordisk procedure focuses on simplicity, usability, and clear guidance on the global minimum requirements. It describes how to organise Health & Safety work, systematically identify, and keep risks in control, handle Health & Safety aspects, and evaluate Health & Safety performance. It is supplemented with tools and guidelines. 

Novo Nordisk’s Health & Safety strategy outlines that: 

  • We will not accept people being injured or ill as a result of our working conditions
  • We embrace a zero-injury mindset and are committed to continuously improving our working environment

Our 2020 ambitions are defined in four strategic focus areas: safety, ergonomics, mental well-being and health promotion. 

Our Health & Safety in Novo Nordisk procedure describes our Health & Safety management system, which is based on the ISO 45001 standard regarding working environment.  

Our corporate Health & Safety department set the direction for all processes relating to health and safety in the workplace. All managers are accountable for their people and their working environment.


Assessing risks

We assess risk impact through a standard annual Health & Safety management review process. All units in Novo Nordisk participate in the review. Each functional area is assessed to ensure compliance with the Health & Safety in Novo Nordisk procedure.

Significant risks and issues related to the working environment are identified and mitigating actions defined. The review also evaluates the Health & Safety management system to ensure it is suitable, adequate, and effective. The results are presented annually to Executive Management. 



To mitigate and prevent workplace accidents, injury, and health risks, all findings are acted upon immediately. 

All Health & Safety representatives and managers are trained on a regular basis to ensure a thorough understanding of health and safety in Novo Nordisk. This provides them with skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to maintain a healthy and safe working environment. 


Below are further examples of the actions taken at a corporate level:

  • Mental well-being and stress prevention: We have developed global leadership guidelines to promote mental well-being and support managers taking responsibility for creating healthy workplaces. On an annual basis, we monitor levels of stress symptoms reported by employees. We train and educate our human resources experts and managers to have open dialogues with teams, so that issues in the psycho-social working environment, which could affect employees, are quickly identified and addressed.
  • Transport and traffic safety: Transport and traffic is identified as a major risk area, particularly for medical representatives working in countries with poor public infrastructure. We have identified measures on transport accidents. Based on these, several initiatives to prevent transport accidents has been initiated in the organisation.


We continuously manage other aspects of health and safety, with a focus on:

  • Ergonomics: We monitor the level of work-related pain on a yearly basis. Heavy manual lifting has been an ongoing challenge in production facilities and so we have limited this to a 15 kg maximum load. Since 2016, we have minimised these routine heavy lifts in the production facilities. Sedentary work for long periods of time is posing a risk to employees’ short- and long-term health. To overcome this challenge, we have developed and launched a global toolbox offering guidance, tools, and inspiration to drive behavioural change through increased workday activity.
  • Health promotion: Our health promotion programme, novohealth, enable employees to act on their health and provides a framework for integrating health promotion into the workday. novohealth provides a platform for employees to make informed decisions that can improve their health and general well-being. Managers are responsible for supporting implementation of novohealth and provide opportunities to:
    • engage in physical activity
    • enjoy healthy food and beverages
    • work in a smoke-free environment
    •  attend regular health checks

novohealth is adapted locally by novohealth ambassadors and its content is co-created by employees across the organisation. 



We are committed to continuously improving safety, ergonomics, and well-being. We have defined our 2020 ambitions and track performance based on these elements: 

  • Safety: zero-injury mindset: Lost Time Accident (LTA)1 frequency (reduction of number of employees with occupational accidents) = 2.0 (= 2.2 in 2019)
  • Well-being: <10% of employees experiencing stress symptoms (= 14% in 2019)
  •  Ergonomics: minimum 90% of all employees agrees that their work does not cause physical pain in general (87% in 2019).

The Health & Safety management system was implemented globally in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, a global Health & Safety IT system was implemented in most areas to support the daily operation and handling of all Health & Safety tasks, which include accident reporting, action planning, and follow-up, workplace assessments, safety rounds, and relevant surveys.

The systematic approach to continuous improvements in health and safety has led to improvements in reducing work-related accidents with absence has decreased by 27 % from 2016 to 2019.


Raising concerns

Employees can raise concerns and complaints via the Health & Safety representative/manager, annual workplace assessments, facilitation and annual surveys. Employees also have an option to contact the Compliance Hotline  (in over 40 languages) or the Ombudsman. Measures are taken for all concerns reported.

All work-related accidents are investigated, analysed, and recorded to prevent re-occurrence. Insurance and compensation for people who have been affected by accidents are managed based on local regulations.


Keri Gud - NovoHealth China


We enable employees to act on their health, this is the core of novohealth, our global employee health programme.

NovoHealth allows us to create a workplace culture that promotes and supports healthy lifestyles for all our employees to prevent type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle related diseases.

NovoHealth focuses on four key health areas:

  • Providing access to healthy food and beverages in the workplace
  • Supporting our employees in being physically active
  • Providing a smoke-free work environment and supporting employees who wish to quit smoking
  • Providing access to regular personal health check.


These focus areas are adapted by our affiliates for local cultural differences.


1. The frequency of accidents with absence is measured as the reported number of accidents using full-time employees, excluding externals, employees on unpaid leave, interns, bachelor and master thesis employees, and substitutes, per million nominal working hours. An accident with absence is any work-related accident causing at least one day of absence in addition to the day of the accident.