Safety observations have proven to be an efficient tool for preventing accidents on the construction site of Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill.
According to Ilkka Karvonen, Health and Safety Manager of the bioproduct mill project, the division of safety responsibilities on the major construction site is clear.
“Everyone in the construction site area is responsible for ensuring safety for their part and monitoring their environment for any risks.”
Karvonen points out that preventive measures and careful planning are the best ways to improve safety at work.
“Our most important task is to identify any hazards before accidents happen. We require our subcontractors to assess the risks and prepare a safety plan before starting a new work phase.”
Winters are challenging
Around 600 people are currently working on the construction site in Äänekoski in Central Finland. With the installation of massive prefabricated concrete elements, the mill is now rapidly taking shape.
“We are carrying out special heavy lifting operations and must pay particular attention to their safe implementation. We must make absolutely sure that there are no people in the areas under the loads that are being lifted,” says Karvonen.
Lighting and preventing slipperiness are particularly important in the winter.
“Grit, anti-slip grips on shoes, appropriate railings and stairs, high-visibility clothing and appropriate lighting are the basic elements of safety at work.”
Karvonen believes that investing in safety at work will create a competitive advantage for each of the companies operating in the area.
“I’m convinced that paying appropriate attention to safety is reflected in the quality of the work and the motivation of the employees.”
Rapid responses to shortcomings
Safety observations are an effective tool for ensuring safety at work, as anyone can report shortcomings or dangerous situations.
“Safety observations can be submitted in writing, online or verbally. They can also be submitted anonymously,” says Karvonen.
Once an observation is entered into Metsä Group’s system, a schedule and a person in charge are determined for the required corrective measures.
“Metsä Group’s employees are familiar with the safety observation process and are comfortable with reporting their observations. To many subcontractors, however, this is a new operating model, but they are gradually realising the importance of safety observations.”
Low number of accidents
As a result of careful attention being paid to safety at work, the number of accidents on the construction site of the bioproduct mill has remained low. Four minor accidents occurred in 2015, causing a total of 22 days of sick leave. In addition, one more serious accident took place, causing a longer period of sick leave.
“Our current accident frequency rate is 12, which is too high, for we are aiming for zero accidents. In the construction sector, the average rate is 60, meaning that we are at a good level,” says Karvonen, knocking on wood.
All accidents and dangerous situations that take place on the construction site are investigated carefully to prevent future occurrences of similar incidents.
“When we investigate an incident, we do not focus on who was at fault. We investigate so we can implement corrective measures. We have received good feedback on this operating model from our subcontractors.”