Some 2,500 people are currently working on the construction of Metsä Group's bioproduct mill at Äänekoski. When the strength of the workforce is high, the risk of occupational accidents also increases.
“We are in the middle of the most intense phase of installations, with a lot of work being carried out at height. This increases the risk of accidents caused by people or goods falling, and such accidents are always dangerous,” says Ilkka Karvonen, the bioproduct mill project's Safety Manager.
The accident frequency rate on the site of the bioproduct mill has been on the rise during the autumn, and now stands at 18.
“The rate tells you how many accidents there are per one million working hours. Of course, every accident is one too many. Fortunately, we have not had any serious accidents at work.”
It is important to investigate the reasons for accidents and to think about what we could do differently.
Finding the cause – not someone to blame – for accidents
Every accident at work on site is investigated and included in statistics under the leadership of the bioproduct mill project's safety team. As the project progresses, the accumulated data offers tools for developing occupational safety. It is worth noting that all of the accidents, barring one, have been attributable to human activity, one way or the other.
“In other words, every one of these accidents could have been prevented. It is important to investigate the reasons for them and to think about what we could do differently, to prevent this from happening to me or my colleagues,” says Karvonen.
Nearly half of the accidents have consisted of trips, stumbling or slips.
“The site's overall tidiness is one of the most important ways we can prevent these accidents. Tripping leads to sick leave nearly every time.”
As the project progresses, the accumulated data offers tools for developing occupational safety.
The second highest number of accidents has occurred due to the incorrect use of tools, fingers becoming trapped, or getting something in the eye.
“Careless use of angle grinders has resulted in several accidents. I believe that we could prevent a lot of accidents by using angle grinders with brakes,” says Karvonen.
“Safety is part of your professional skills”
According to Karvonen, the general attitude towards occupational safety has developed positively, overall, over recent years. Even so, he sees trends that warrant special attention, even in the construction sector.
“The construction and installation of a mill is a very networked effort, and temporary agency workers and subcontractors are being used to an increasing degree. This is why it's important for everyone to shoulder their responsibility for safety training and proactive safety work, and to do their part in ensuring that working is safe. It is our job to make sure that this also takes place.”
Considering your own safety, and the safety of your colleagues, is part of your professional skills.
Karvonen is mindful of the fact that considering your own safety, and the safety of your colleagues, is part of your professional skills.
“If you don’t anticipate it, everything is a coincidence,” he says.