As part of our sustainability strategy, health and safety play a key role in our business. Our Enhancing lives goal shows our commitment to create an environment where we can take care of our health and feel safe in our daily activities. 

Our ultimate safety goal is zero accidents. The main indicator of our progress is the number of lost time injuries per million hours worked, taking into account severity. The lower these rates, the more we are living up to our company values of respect and cooperation. Together, we are creating a safer working environment.

frequency rate

In 2023 we achieved a record result for our frequency rate, and this year the trend seems to be continuing in the right direction with our best result ever!

To celebrate World Safety and Health Day, we had a goodbye interview with Rudi Ronneau, our Group Health, Safety & Environment Manager, to discuss his experience, knowledge and insights on the subject, as well as his next milestone: a safe and healthy retirement.

What motivated you to pursue a career in HSE management?

Rudi Ronneau: “HSE is a wonderful marriage between the technical, operational and human aspects of operations. When I joined Vandemoortele in 2000, there were a lot of opportunities to grow in this area, and at the same time this topic was developing very fast in the following years. I was given the trust, space and autonomy to act, which enabled me to make progress. Having worked in operations for 20 years, I believe this is a key aspect of the job, for example writing procedures with a clear view of what happens outside the office. This makes them more realistic and 'workable'. "

What are some of the most significant changes or improvements that you have witnessed or contributed to in the field of health and safety in our company?

"In the last 20 years, we've launched 4 safety campaigns: the first 2 (WARP - work accident reduction plan 1 and 2 - as well as the acceleration of acceleration in science fiction 😉) focused on procedures and technical safety, and they brought a huge progress (50%) through training and consolidated KPIs, building the foundations of our safety programme. 

In 2015, we started to focus on the human part by launching the "I care U2?" campaign, which at the time focused mainly on behaviour (via toolboxes - which were a big step forward) and safety walks, bringing some leading KPIs into the picture and improving the result by a further 30% in terms of frequency rate. The I care U2 version 2.0 added the peer-to-peer module, which is the final step in getting safety into people's hearts, talking about safety and caring for each other. We have already seen progress of 10% or more since the launch of this campaign. In 2023 we reached the lowest frequency rate ever for the company, and today we are achieving an even lower result. In 2000, the company's frequency was around 45-50%! 

The team is also working on to make safety even more part of the daily work by putting these measures into an Internal Control Framework (ICF) to get a certified system. The “I CareU2? 2.0, has also been highlighted with the sustainability strategy and is becoming more integrated and visible, bringing it even closer to the people. My favourite comment about the programme: the campaign logo is known by everyone! The peer-2-peer branding has also been a success, as the number of interactions remains at a high level!”

Quote Rudi Ronneau

What are some current or emerging challenges or risks you think our company should be aware of or prepared for regarding health and safety?

"The Bradley curve says it all. There are different levels of maturity in a company when it comes to safety. The more it is integrated into everyone's daily activities, the fewer accidents there will be. At the moment we are at the "dependent level". We have a lot of measures around KPIs, targets and reports. To move to the next level of the curve, "independent", we need to change our mindset to "I want to be safe for my work and the people around me", so it becomes a natural reflex. It's only one step, but it's a big one, because it also depends on the maturity of other pillars."

How do you keep up with the latest developments and trends in health and safety management? 

“Curiosity and lifelong learning. But you also have to study the subject (a lot) to get the holistic view you need for this role. However, passion is a key driver.”

We wish all the best for Rudi's next chapter, and we look forward to work with Samir in continuing this health and safe journey!

Read more about our efforts and achievements in our latest Annual Integrated Report 2023.

About Vandemoortele

Vandemoortele was founded in 1899 as a Belgian family business, and has continued to grow and develop ever since. Over the last two decades, we became a European food company with leading positions in two product categories: Bakery Products (BP) and Plant-Based Food Solutions. We are known for supplying innovative and high-quality products. 

In 2023, Vandemoortele realised a turnover of around EUR 1.9 billion with 4,080 associates (permanent and temporary). The Vandemoortele Group headquarters are located in Ghent, Belgium. We have commercial offices in 12 European countries, as well as in the United States and Asia. We operate in 29 high-quality production sites all over Europe, in order to ensure proximity to all our key markets. We export from Europe to 72 countries worldwide.

News & Media Contact

Marc Croonen