Material aspect 4: We care about the environment, health, and safety

Environment, health, and safety
SDG 3 (icon)SDG 8 (icon)SDG 13 (icon)

Our mission is to bring innovative medicines with novel modes of action to patients suffering from severe diseases in the most sustainable way and with respect for our planet. We are committed to safeguarding the earth by keeping our environmental impact to a minimum, reducing waste, and handling it in a safe and responsible way.

We operate in a highly regulated sector and are subject to a strict set of laws and regulations related to the impact on the environment, well-being of employees, safety, and management of laboratory waste. We perform internal and external audits to monitor compliance with these rules and regulations.

We have implemented an Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) framework based on ISO 45001 and ISO 14001, and have established an EHS group department responsible for the development of an annual action plan to promote well-being and safety at work. Management guarantees the implementation of this action plan and our EHS efforts are anchored in the shared responsibility of our staff to ensure a safe, healthy and environmentally friendly work environment: every employee is responsible for protecting people and the environment in and around his or her workplace.

We have no production sites, we do not own buildings, and our facilities have only minor environmental liabilities such as waste handling and emissions from fume hoods. Nonetheless, we aim to reduce our environmental impact further, for example by recycling and replacing paper by digital means to the extent possible.

We maintain safety monitoring records, in compliance with applicable legislation. We treat our dangerous waste in accordance with local laws, and we ensure that training of employees takes place on all handling of hazardous materials, laboratory and other safety aspects, and on other relevant policies for conducting our business.

We also take practical initiatives to eliminate accidents and illness, and to provide a safe work environment and business processes.

We have bikes at our facilities in Mechelen and Leiden for our employees who need to commute between the buildings on site. We have implemented green car options in our company car fleet in Mechelen and expect the green car options to be implemented in other sites as well to further stimulate our employees to select a company car with low environmental impact.

Actions in 2019

  • We further established EHS key performance indicators for internal monitoring and external reporting
  • We implemented procedural documents for EHS processes (ProDocs) in waste management, chemical, biological, and radiation safety
  • We performed risk assessments in the biology and chemical labs in Mechelen and performed workplace ergonomics assessments for the full site in Mechelen
  • We performed risk assessments for individual biology labs in Leiden
  • We implemented a new green, hybrid car policy in Mechelen 
  • We have bikes at our facilities in Mechelen and Leiden for transport between the buildings
  • We implemented a shuttle service between the train station and our site in Mechelen that is free for our employees
  • There were no safety incidents reported, no recordable injury counts, no fatalities, and no days away from work reported due to safety issues in 2019
  • >80% of our staff completed a training on compliance on newly introduced QA and EHS ProDocs

Future ambitions

  • We will implement four new corporate EHS goals related to the transport of hazardous goods, emergency preparedness, competences measurement and management of collective and personal protective equipment
  • We aim to select new taxi and shuttle services in Belgium that comply with our environmental policy
  • We are working on a contract with an electric cable supplier to make recharging car batteries available for our employees
  • We aim to execute on a workplace strategy to further optimize and improve the workspace at our facilities across the different locations
  • We are building new sites in Mechelen and Leiden:
    • For which the design and concept take into account the various parameters that are being assessed to obtain a Breeam and Well status;
    • That will operate in an eco-efficient way (for example a green roof);
    • That are located close to railway stations to motivate our employees to commute by public transport
  • In order to protect and increase the bee population, we aim to install beehives on the roof of our building in Mechelen, and the beehives will be relocated to our new building in Mechelen