In May, Samsung Biologics, one of the world’s largest contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), announced a partnership with the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor to formalize a goal of maintaining a safe workplace. The company held a signing ceremony to demonstrate its commitment at its Songdo, South Korea, headquarters. The agreement follows Samsung Biologics’ signing of memoranda of understanding with 22 partner companies that are also committing to workplace safety.

“As a sustainable CDMO partner, we will take the lead in strengthening and cultivating a healthy and safe culture within the biopharma industry,” said Kun Lo, executive vice president of engineering, procurement, construction, and validation at Samsung Biologics.

The company has been rapidly expanding in recent years, adding several new biomanufacturing plants and broadening its portfolio to include areas such as biosimilars and mRNA vaccine production. As it’s grown, CEO John Rim has repeatedly emphasized the importance of establishing robust environmental, social, and governance policies. The workplace safety partnerships are a logical extension of this approach, which also involves ambitious sustainability goals and community outreach.

“Besides adopting new technologies, the pharma industry is also responsible to incorporate ESG measures into its processes,” said Rim in a recent interview. “Four percent to 5% of the total global carbon output results from the health care industry, so in order to address this subject, we are actively engaged in the SMI — Sustainable Markets Initiative. Driven by King Charles III and led by CEOs and executives from various companies and national agencies (the [World Health Organization], the [U.K.’s National Health Service], etc.), this program aims to set global standards and to create public and private partnerships.”

Workplace Safety at a CDMO

There are several important steps a CDMO like Samsung Biologics can take to ensure workplace safety.

First, CDMOs should adhere to all applicable local, national, and international regulations and guidelines related to workplace safety, as established both within the industry and by government agencies. This includes following safety protocols, providing appropriate personal protective equipment, and regularly conducting safety audits.

Proper training programs should be implemented to educate employees about potential hazards and risks associated with their specific roles and responsibilities. This training should cover safety protocols, emergency response procedures, handling hazardous materials, operating machinery, and general safety practices. Regular refresher courses and updates should be conducted to ensure continuous awareness.

Risk management plans should be established and regular inspections and evaluations should be conducted to identify and address any emerging safety concerns. This includes identifying and mitigating risks related to chemicals, equipment, ergonomic factors, and potential exposure to biological agents.

Samsung Biologics has designed all its facilities, including the recently constructed Plant 4, to promote safety and minimize risks. This includes appropriate ventilation systems to control airborne contaminants, clear signage for emergency exits and safety protocols, properly maintained equipment, and well-organized workspaces that minimize clutter and prevent tripping hazards.

The company has sought to promote a strong safety culture, fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting safety questions and concerns.

It regularly reviews and updates its safety policies and procedures to incorporate industry best practices and evolving regulatory requirements.

ESG at Samsung Biologics

In July 2022, Samsung Biologics released its second annual ESG report, which detailed both its workplace safety policies and its broader commitment to sustainability.

“Under our ‘Driven. For a Sustainable Life.’ framework, we are continuously improving and committing our resources to create a sustainable environment, build a healthy society, and implement responsible business activities,” said Rim at the time. “The publication of our annual ESG Report reinforces the progress we’ve made while keeping us focused on the long-term goals we’ve set. Our sustainability initiatives reinforce the connection between the work we do and how we fulfill our mission while delivering on our core values of always putting people and the environment first.”

The CDMO will likely release another ESG report later this year. Some notable achievements to report on are its reduction in emissions, scholarship programs for students living in Songdo, and its membership in several sustainability initiatives. It also received the 2022 Terra Carta Seal, which recognizes global companies driving innovation and action toward the creation of genuinely sustainable markets.

According to the company’s website, “Samsung Biologics is pursuing its mission to create a better world with high-quality biopharmaceuticals through a global logistics supply chain and comprehensive social responsibilities while building a basis for sustainability.

“Moreover, we will grow with the local community through various social contribution activities such as supporting the most vulnerable members of our local community and fulfilling social environmental responsibilities by participating in the Korea National Institute for Bioprocessing Research & Training (K-NIBRT) to establish the Shared Growth Management.”

Its announcement of workplace safety partnerships fits within this larger ESG goal.

By Manali