JT Group health and safety

  • For the latest information, please see Integrated Report 2020. Information below is for FY2019. FY2020 online content will be released in June 2021.

Our employees have the right to be protected from work-related injuries and illnesses, and it is our responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment. We align our health and safety standards with OHSAS 18001 and always meet or exceed legal requirements.

When our standards are stricter than local laws, we require our local offices to comply with our standards. The scope of our standards extends beyond our employees, covering contractors as well as visitors to our operations.


In line with our vision of zero workplace injuries, we will reduce injury rates by 25% by 2023 and 50% by 2030. (Baseline year: 2015).


Health and safety performance in our tobacco business

Recordable injury rate* declined 31.2% from 0.72 in 2015 to 0.49 in 2019.

  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Recordable Injury Rate
(per 200,000 working hours)
Employees 0.72 0.64 0.67 0.50 0.49
  • * Recordable injury rate = Recordable injuries/200,000 hours worked. Some data from newly acquired business have been excluded, as newly acquired business needs 18 months to integrate the JT Group Health and Safety Standards.

Our Health and Safety Performance as a Group

Recordable injury rate* declined 31.2% from 0.72 in 2015 to 0.49 in 2019.

  2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
NUMBER OF FATALITIES Employees 1 2 0 1 1
Contractors 1 1
(only JTI)
2 0 0
Lost Time Injury Rate
(per 200,000 working hours)
Employees 0.34 0.39 0.37 0.24 0.24
Occupational Illness Rate*1
(per million working hours)
Employees 0 0 0.08 0.02 0.01
Other Important KPIs
% of Cigarette and Tobacco-Related
Factories Certified to
OHSAS 18001
78.9% 77.8% 74.4% 76.9% 79.5%
NUMBER OF VEHICLE ACCIDENTS*2 1122 1151 66 85 71
Vehicle Accident Frequency Rate*2
(excludes property damage,accidents per million kilometers)
4.84 3.87 0.23 0.21 0.16

In 2019, we recalculated all the historical data. Concretely, we removed some data from newly acquired business considering the fact that newly acquired business needs 18 months
to integrate the JT Group Health and Safety Standards.
We revised our KPIs this year and we no longer report the number of lost time incidents, and the lost time incidents rate.
We regret that one employee and two people in our communities died as a result of work accidents in 2019. We try to learn from every accident and remain committed to achieving zero fatalities.

  • *1 Data scope: 2015: only JT, 2016 and 2017: JT and Japanese domestic Group companies, from 2018: The entire JT Group. Learn more about our data scopes at About our reporting.
  • *2 The numbers of vehicle accidents and the vehicle accident frequency rates in 2015 and 2016 contain property damages because the data is not available in our international tobacco
    business. The data in 2015 covers only our international tobacco business and from 2016, we cover JT and JTI.

Three pillars of safety

Our safety programs are based on three fundamental pillars: safe workplaces, safety competence, and a Group-wide culture where the safety of our people always comes first. The level of risk varies from location to location, but the highest risks across the JT Group are driving vehicles, riding motorcycles (driver safety), and working with machinery, as well as slips, trips, and falls.

To mitigate these risks and prevent injuries, we conduct risk assessments throughout the whole supply chain. This helps us to identify hazards, implement appropriate measures, and ensure that our approach helps us to protect our employees. We also focus on raising awareness among employees and thoroughly embedding our safety culture in our day-to-day work.

In 2019, we rolled out a new driver safety policy and implementation guidelines across our international tobacco business. Focusing on driver behavior, the new guidelines require local offices to conduct a risk assessment to identify high-risk drivers. They must also send periodic progress reports and action plans to our headquarters in Geneva.

Additionally, considering the growing number of female employees, the policy now includes maternity protection for female drivers.

In the next three years, 30,000 employees will take a driver training course.

We plan to launch a new tool globally in 2020 to facilitate risk assessment at local offices. This tool has been piloted in Egypt, where trying to reducing vehicle accidents has been challenging due to poor infrastructure and traffic management in the country. Feedback from local health and safety managers and employees has been very positive.

In our Japanese operations, we are developing a new strategy and remain committed to eliminating any vehicle accidents that harm our employees.

Case study

Reducing incidents by 50% through our motorcycle safety program

Driving is a critically important area of safety for us, as it can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities. Driving is most dangerous in countries where safety standards and awareness are lower, and ingrained driver behavior is less risk-averse.

We have been addressing this issue since 2016, when we launched a motorcycle risk management program in countries where employees drive motorcycles daily, such as Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. We have updated the program and we are now planning to implement it in our acquired operations in countries such as Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh.

The motorcycle program is designed to reduce risks by teaching the technique of ‘defensive driving’ to reduce accidents and focusing on the proper maintenance and inspection of vehicles. It emphasizes the need to wear proper protective equipment, such as helmets, gloves, and high-visibility jackets.

Thanks to Train-the-Trainer sessions, we now have 130 specialized motorcycle trainers who can provide training in their countries. The program has had a significant impact on safety performance. In 2019, the number of motorcycle-related injuries in the countries where we implemented the programs was reduced by 50% compared to 2016 and 2017.

Standing up for road safety in Iran

Road traffic accidents are a major concern in Iran, where we have a sales office, and unfortunately many of our employees have been involved in vehicle incidents. To protect our employees, we developed and launched the road safety project ‘Stand for Safety’ in 2018.

We began by analyzing the root causes of the incidents involving our employees. Among the factors identified were dangerous driving, mechanical faults, and adverse weather.

As a result of what we learned, we developed and ran targeted driver safety training sessions for sales managers in each of our 38 Iran offices throughout 2018.

In 2019, this was reinforced through weekly safety meetings hosted by team supervisors. We continue to regularly share training materials on subjects such as defensive driving.

Since the project began, there has been a significant and sustained decline in the vehicle accident frequency rate in Iran. This protects our employees, minimizes vehicle damage costs, and reduces the amount of time spent dealing with incidents.

Ensuring the same standards around the world

As part of our drive to expand the business geographically, we have made acquisitions in new markets.

  • In 2017, we acquired tobacco manufacturers in Indonesia and the Philippines, and we became the majority shareholder of The National Tobacco Enterprise (Ethiopia) Share Company.*
  • In 2018, we acquired additional tobacco companies in Russia and Bangladesh.
  • These acquisitions considerably increased the size of our workforce.**

Most of these acquired businesses operate in developing countries, with a raft of societal and economical challenges. We recognize this and feel responsible for improving the working environment. We therefore introduce our policies firmly and immediately after each acquisition. We also visit the sites and support local managers to ensure that our policies are endorsed and embedded across the Group.

Particularly in these countries, health and safety issues pose a serious risk to local communities, our employees, contractors, and our business continuity. For this reason, we take a systematic and risk-based approach to acquired businesses from the outset. The Health and Safety team at our headquarters conducts a risk assessment for potential new countries to check whether their standards meet ours. Following an acquisition, we support local offices to identify key risks, develop and implement 18-month action plans, and align policies with our standards.

Following the implementation of our global policy and standards in Ethiopia, employees can work in a much safer workplace and we have drastically reduced the number of work-related injuries at this location. Previously, there had been incidents involving moving equipment, falls, and vehicle accidents, among other safety risks. Now employees are more safety-aware, and we continue to make efforts to create a workplace free from any safety issues.

  • * We became the majority shareholder of the Ethiopian company in December 2017.
  • ** Please refer to our GRI Index for detailed information about our workforce composition.

Towards a better workplace

We care deeply about employee well-being because we want our employees to feel comfortable and motivated every day. We run a variety of well-being programs across the Group, such as ergonomic assessments and ensuring general occupational hygiene.

To design these programs, we gather well-being data from our local offices. In 2018, we expanded our data scope by introducing new rules requiring all local offices to report their occupational health cases to our headquarters. This will allow us to understand our global risks and develop a consistent approach to them, while strengthening our existing protection measures.

Local managers are responsible for investigating reported issues and identifying the causes. If the issues are attributed to the work or workplace, we take appropriate measures immediately to protect employees’ well-being and prevent recurrences.

We communicate the importance of check-ups to our employees and put in place initiatives to facilitate them. In Japan, through these check-ups, we identified several lifestyle-related risk factors which can cause chronic conditions such as diabetes. We therefore launched a platform where employees can view the results of their check-up and receive relevant well-being tips. This will raise employee awareness of lifestyle-related risk factors, and ultimately reduce absenteeism rates.

Another key focus area in our Japanese operations is employee mental health. As mental health issues can be related to stress, employees are encouraged to attend stress management sessions and individual meetings with doctors. In addition, we held sessions on sleeping well, as our annual employee survey results showed that this was a key concern.

These programs have had a positive impact on employee productivity and the absenteeism rate in Japan, which has recently been below 1%.

We are pleased to announce that JT was named as a “White 500” company for the fourth year running. This award is presented by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. It recognizes large enterprises that are making outstanding progress towards better well-being among their employees.