Why one must always stay alert?
The last accident prevention day of the present year is spent on Friday December 13th. Empower takes yet again part in the campaign, as paying attention to the prevention of accidents and promoting safe working environment is high in our priorities considering the nature of our work. We want every employee and partner always to get home safely at the end of the day.
At Empower we actively manage work safety and one of the regular follow-ups in its different forms is naturally the accident frequency rate. During the past years our work safety has developed well and we have seen a downward trend in these rates. According to the constant improvement principles, some of our work safety targets have also been updated and some changed every year. As our LWIF has decreased steadily, during 2019 we have put more effort in actions targeting the decrease in TRIF, and managed to succeed in these efforts.
However - like it is with many other things - what you measure is what the organization delivers, and despite our development is good in multiple targets, it does not tell the whole truth. According to international studies the low accident frequency rate does not remove the possibility of more serious accidents, but instead even deathly accidents can happen despite LWIF being close to zero. This can be due for example to the fact that the focus is in the removal of small (read, trivial) matters instead of most significant – because it is possible to obtain quicker improvement to the accident frequency rates – or because the risk potential is not thoroughly estimated in all events, and organization is just satisfied with the fact that nothing happened this time. It is so easy to be lulled into the good feeling.
"Empower’s nature of the work means we are encountering challenging places and situations on a daily basis and thus the risk for a serious accident always exists."
Having said that, it can a bit explain why also we have experienced an accident leading to over 30 days absence this year. Especially the lifts and work done high up, bear large risks in which one should pay special attention in work safety. The preventative safety culture which among others is manifested in the regular site inspections and in pre-work risks evaluations increases the safety at work. We here at Empower have also paid attention to preventative safety culture and furthermore it has been made sure that if and when something happens, these cases are comprehensively studied so that the doctrines can be transmitted to the whole organization and avoid the same situation in the future. Also in spite of all this preventative work, one must always stay alert.
Our trend in work safety is positive in many ways and we can be proud of our achievements. Even in more serious cases we have mainly operated in the preventative way, but several simultaneous harmful factors can produce surprising situations and in connection to human error lead to an accident with a more than 30 day absence – this is what happened also at Empower. Luckily into an accident from which our employee should recover unchanged within a reasonable time. Mistakes are human and this brings in the importance of proper risk management which is a necessary tool to make sure that possible mistakes would not automatically produce a concrete accident.
Every organization in our field has the same challenge - if we focus on detail and aspire to reach the zero level and no accidents, we may lose the big picture and miss the big risks in daily operations. Likewise in life itself, it is important to find the balance between these two.
Vesa Rapo, Head of HSE and Sustainability at Empower Group