The Messer Compliance Management System (Messer CMS) emphasizes our shared understanding of our fundamental values. It constitutes a mandatory framework for resolving conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory provisions and the inter-company and company- internal policy guidelines within all divisions of the Messer Group. The managing directors and senior management are fully committed to the Messer CMS. As a value system, it serves to foster a relationship with our internal and external stakeholders that is based on fairness, solidarity and confidence. It supports those in charge of its establishment and implementation and also seeks to prevent violations of the Messer Code, if possible, in advance.
The Messer Code stands for active corporate governance. Essential to good management practice, it serves as a basic set of rules that govern our daily work in conformity with the Messer’s corporate mission statement. Our managing directors must ensure that all employees have unrestricted access to the Messer Code and are aware of where and how it can be consulted. The Messer Code of Conduct is the key document of the Messer Code. It is supplemented and materialized through guidelines and binding internal regulations. We also expect our business partners, customers and other parties who work with Messer to observe applicable laws and the principles of the Messer Code.
The management of Messer bears responsibility for monitoring the Messer CMS. In accordance with applicable statutory regulations, the managing directors of each country are responsible for implementing this organizational concept in their own national subsidiary and for ensuring compliance with it. They are supported by a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and national compliance officers (LCOs). The team of compliance officers is supplemented by the corporate departmental heads in the Corporate Office who serve as expertise area-specific compliance officers (BCOs). Managers are expected to demonstrate appropriate organization, leadership, communication, judgment, oversight and guidance in their activities. Moreover, they are obliged to protect customers, employees and the environment. In this context, they are clearly committed in equal measure to conducting business in compliance with the law and to preventing illegal practices and punishing those who engage in them.
Along with traditional classroom training, webinars and e-learning courses cover specific aspects of the Messer Code. The corporate departments as well as local management and departments generally determine course content and designate which employees receive training. They assume responsibility for the design and implementation of the training courses, supported by external service providers as necessary, and ensure that proper documentation is issued. In 2019, the Messer Group and its Western European subsidiaries held 686 training seminars and our subsidiaries in the Americas held an updated compliance training course for employees. New e-learning courses were developed in collaboration with Navex. To comply with statutory requirements in the USA, a training course on combating workplace harassment was introduced in the fourth quarter of 2019. The training course on ethics and the code of conduct, anti-trust law, competition regulations and anti-corruption measures is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2020.
Through Group guidelines, statutes, procedural rules, and signature regulations, all important business matters at Messer are regulated by a defined approval process and reporting system.
Regular meetings are also held at the local, regional and departmental levels, where participants discuss and coordinate relevant topics, exchange experience, and report on developments. The essential procedures at Messer are defined and often certified (e.g. ISO, GMP). With the support of Corporate Legal and representatives of other departments, Internal Audit conducts regular, multi-day audits of all national subsidiaries. That process also examines matters pertaining to the Messer Code. Individual departments perform other tailed audits in addition. The CCO regularly informs the Executive Board of Messer Group GmbH and the Supervisory Board – and promptly on request in specific cases – about any serious Messer Code violations reported to the CCO; otherwise this report is submitted annually. Likewise, once a year, all local subsidiaries and corporate departments inform Corporate Controlling about any issues of relevance to the risk report. Those issues are discussed by the Executive Board of Messer Group GmbH, which then decides on any further measures that may be required as a result.
The managing directors and senior management must organize their area of responsibility in a way that continuously enables employees to report violations of applicable law or the Messer Code (“compliance violations”), as well as cases of justifiable suspicion, in order to ensure prompt remedial action. In 2019, Messer received five reports through the corresponding hotlines. At the Messer Group, including its Western European companies, a total of 91 suspected cases of compliance violations were reported (previous year: 71 suspected cases), one of which was significant for the Messer Group beyond the confines of any one region.
In 2019, as part of the Compliance Management System (CMS), the management of Messer adopted revised versions of the manuals for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and drug safety. The new manuals constitute binding CMS documents for the European subsidiaries. The purpose of the pharmaceutical's manual is to ensure that the basic principles of the regulatory requirements and the need to comply with GxP requirements (“good work practice” guidelines) are known and followed. It helps Messer subsidiaries throughout Europe to meet regulatory requirements relative to pharmaceuticals and to obtain marketing authorizations. The medical devices manual helps them comply with the basic internal and external requirements for medical devices and those of the customers. The drug safety manual (pharmacovigilance) describes the specific organization system required for monitoring the safety of medicinal products. Messer has a pharmacovigilance system (PV system) that covers the Group headquarters, all marketing authorization holders (MAH) in the EU, all companies affiliated with the PV system and, to a limited extent, all other companies independent of their location.
At Messer Group GmbH, a Group IT Security Officer is responsible for coordinating security measures across all the individual companies, establishing standards, and developing the relevant expertise. By maintaining the crucially important availability of our systems, IT Security supports the sustainability of our digitalization, the physical security of our information, and the essential viability of our business processes. The IT Security services are elaborated by an international team of IT Security experts. With preventive vulnerability scans in nine European companies, we monitor our externally accessible IT communication points. Work to eliminate any identified vulnerabilities is scheduled according to risk category and implemented accordingly. When a thorough internal analysis of the IT system has been conducted in one company, the results are compiled in the context of a continuous improvement process and provided to other companies as best practices or as a basis for comparison. The IT Security team jointly developed an IT security self-audit checklist that we use to determine the current status and recommend actions to prevent or minimize risk. The analysis primarily concerns the IT systems and applications installed and also examines infrastructure and network issues. These self-audits were conducted in three European companies, the findings were analyzed, and action plans were developed accordingly. This tool also serves to raise awareness and focus attention on the prevention of possible risks in IT operations. For our production facilities, we work with our IT service providers to define basic network segmentation concepts aimed at increasing the operational reliability of the IT used to control the plants. This takes into account both existing and future.
Moreover, Messer’s European national subsidiaries and Messer Group GmbH publish their data privacy statement in their national language on their websites. Employees have modified their e-mail signature in Outlook accordingly with a link to the data privacy statement of their national subsidiary (mandatory disclosure) and to that of Messer Group GmbH (optional).
A sustainable supply chain is one of the foundations of Messer’s economic success. In this regard, Messer’s relationships with its key suppliers play a crucial role. Those relationships are maintained by the Logistics / Sourcing and Engineering / Production departments of Messer Group GmbH in their respective areas of expertise. These central departments take charge of or provide assistance with the Europe-wide purchasing of logistics services and special commodities, merchandise, facilities, machinery, and transport equipment, as well as vessels and containers. They are both ISO 9001-certified and have put in place robust and effective quality management systems as part of the certification process. Periodic audits of key suppliers are an essential part of supplier assessment. The Production department supports the Messer national subsidiaries in the operation and maintenance of existing production facilities (troubleshooting, maintenance planning, know-how transfer / training, standardization). The Engineering department is responsible for all technical and procurement-related aspects relative to the implementation of projects for the production of all manner of gases, primarily within Europe. This includes the development and construction or conversion of plants that produce technical and medical gases. In addition to plant design, project management and construction management, this work also encompasses everything from the procurement/purchasing of all required components to plant start-up.
In collaboration with Messer GasPack, Logistics / Sourcing ensures the availability of products (all kinds of gases) and their transportation, for both Messer and its customers. This also includes the development of new logistics concepts and the rollout of optimization and monitoring tools. In addition, the department handles and/or coordinates the procurement of tankers, stationary customer tanks and vaporizers; the procurement, lease and periodic inspection of gas cylinders; the procurement of electricity for the production facilities; and the procurement of gases from external sources. Logistics / Sourcing also helps the national subsidiaries manage transport contracts and organize the transportation of heavy loads. Handling these specialized functions on a centralized basis not only provides economic benefits, it also serves to maintain high quality standards throughout the company.
In 2019, the Logistics / Sourcing department conducted three key supplier audits. These audits focus on, among other things, the production process and the quality of the products manufactured. Since 2018, we now also audit key suppliers’ compliance with the principles of the UN Global Compact. The supplier is evaluated on four categories. In the event of an unsatisfactory assessment, measures designed to improve performance are worked out together with the supplier. The results of the supplier audits were very satisfactory. All suppliers, in some cases after having implemented a list of corrective actions, met Messer’s requirements.