Safe and healthy working conditions

We employ approximately 42,000 people worldwide who all have a fundamental right to a safe and healthy 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 work place, supported by a comprehensive health and 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 Occupational Health and Safety management system across our entire global organisation to ensure such conditions for all employees and contractors.


Policies and governance

Our Occupational Health and Safety Code of Conduct Procedure focuses on simplicity, usability and clear guidance on the global minimum requirements. It describes how to organise occupational health and safety (OHS) work, systematically identify and keep risks in control, handle OHS hazards and evaluate OHS performance. It is supplemented with tools and guidelines. 

Novo Nordisk’s OHS strategy outlines that: 

  • We will not accept people being injured or becoming 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 OHS Code of Conduct describe our OHS management system, which is based on the OHSAS18001 standard regarding working environment.  

The Corporate OHS department oversees all processes relating to health and safety in the workplace. All managers are accountable for their people and working environment.


Assessing risks

Corporate OHS monitors risk impact through a standard annual OHS Management Review process. All units in Novo Nordisk participate in the review. Each functional area is assessed to ensure compliance with the OHS Code of Conduct. Significant risks and issues related to our work environment are identified and mitigating actions defined. The review also evaluates the OHS 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 OHS representatives and managers are trained on a yearly basis to ensure a thorough understanding of the OHS Code of Conduct. This ensures they have the 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: in 2016, global leadership guidelines were developed and published online to support improvements to promote mental well-being. We conduct an annual survey to monitor employee levels of stress symptoms. 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.
  • Transport and traffic safety: in 2017, we identified transport safety as a major risk area, particularly for medical representatives working in countries with poor public infrastructure. In 2018, we will introduce measures to prevent transport accidents including safety awareness improvements.


We continuously manage other aspects of OHS, 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 load. In 2016 we mapped and eliminated routine heavy lifting above 15 kg. 
  • Sedentary work for long periods of time is posing a risk to employees’ short- and long-term health. To defeat 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 , encourages and supports employees to act on their own health and provides a framework for integrating health promotion into the work day. Managers are responsible for ensuring that employees have access to healthy choices including food and beverages, physical activity, support to quit smoking and regular health checks. To support and increase local ownership and co-creation, an online toolbox is available together with a social media platform for sharing local health promotion practices.


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 (= 2.7 in 2017)
  • Well-being: <10% of employees experiencing stress symptoms (= 17% in 2017)
  • Ergonomics: <90% of all units scoring <4.0 in our employee survey (OurVoice) question related to pain  (= 4 in 2017)


In 2014, our OHS Management system was implemented globally. In 2015 and 2016, a global OHS IT system was implemented in most areas to support the daily operation and handling of all OHS tasks which include accident reporting, action planning and follow up, Workplace assessments, Safety rounds and relevant surveys.

The systematic approach to continuous improvements in OHS has led to improvements in reducing work-related accidents: our Lost Time Accident (LTA)1 rate has decreased from 3.0 in 2016 to 2.7 (2017).

In 2017, we strengthened our focus on mental well-being and stress prevention measures, and that led to reduction of employees indicating stress symptoms in our employee survey (OurVoice) from 20% (2016) to 17% (2017).

In 2017 we had one occupational fatality of an employee of an external contractor. The incident was promptly investigated to analyse root causes, and we are taking actions to prevent recurrence.


Raising concerns

Employees can raise concerns and complaints via the OHS representative/manager, annual Workplace Assessments, Facilitation and OurVoice 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 locally managed based on local regulations.


Keri Gud - NovoHealth China


We strive to enable people to act on their health. It is this determination that drives 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 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 occupational accidents with absence is measured as the internally 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 occupational accident with absence is any work-related accident causing at least one day of absence in addition to the day of the accident.