​Systematic approach to work safety pays off - Empower celebrated five years without accidents leading to absence at Anjalankoski mills

ons 2 maj 2018 13:31:03

Empower has invested considerably to work safety and its improvement in recent years. Our goal is to be the industry's best company in occupational safety and to ensure that both our employees and subcontractors get home safely. This has required a systematic approach to develop our safety culture, and although the work towards our zero accident target continues, the results we have achieved are already clearly visible.

The change in our work safety culture is without exception reflected as improved safety statistics that show how safety has become an integral part of everyone’s day at Empower. Empower’s top management has also demonstrated their commitment to common goal, for example participating actively to safety walks.

- Work safety has been our top priority at Empower for several years now and this is clearly visible across our operations in every day. During 2017 we achieved a record-breaking result in LWIF within the Group, and in Empower Industry Services we were able to celebrate at the Anjalankoski mills a very unusual five-year period during which there were no accidents leading to absence. This achievement is a very good example when good plans, principles and policies realize in practice and the safety targets are achieved in cooperation with the customer, says Eero Paunonen, President, Empower Industry Services.

Five consecutive years without accidents leading to absence at Anjalankoski mills

Empower Industry Services has been in charge of operation and maintenance at Stora Enso’s Anjalankoski mills since 2008. During this time, significant investments have been made in the development of occupational safety and, on the last day of April 2018, Anjalankoski mills celebrated five years without any accidents leading to absences. Everyone is proud of this accomplishment, because it has been achieved together.

When Empower started as Stora Enso’s partner at the Anjalankoski mills, the accident statistics were completely different, with the total number of accidents per year being close to 35. In 2010, the mills adopted the current statistical method, according to which accidents are classified into lost time accidents (LTA) and incidents that did not result in absences (TRI).

- When we started to monitor accidents in more detail, we understood better what we need to focus on in order to build a safer work environment. For example, we launched safety briefings on the basis of observations. They were the first larger steps taken to improve the safety awareness of the entire personnel, says Matti Saarainen, unit manager of Anjalankoski at Empower.

Current themes related to safety are discussed during safety briefings. At the Anjalankoski mills, every employee receives the safety briefing material from the previous week via email on Monday to start their working week safely.

- Our idea is that, when employees return to work after a weekend, their week starts with a theme related to occupational safety. To prevent accidents from taking place in the future, we review a situation where something serious could have happened every week, to remember that our work always involves hazards. The resulting changes in our occupational safety culture are the products of systematic hard work, Saarainen continues.

These changes have also been implemented over the years using various safety programmes, where personnel representatives and supervisors think of key focus points, after which action plans and instructions are put into practice in day-to-day operations. One of the most recent examples is the strong link between cleanliness and occupational safety.

- During these five years, our way of working has changed significantly, and everyone is now committed to safety and understands its importance. Now, before any work starts, we consider any hazards and observe the work environment regularly on the basis of instructions. The number of safety observations has increased steadily, as our personnel have a better understanding of what factors involve potential risks, says Saarainen.

Empower and Stora Enso, the owner of the Anjalankoski mills, also encourage employees to make observations. Every month, the best safety observation and the employee who has made the most observations are rewarded. Of course, the entire personnel celebrate accident-free milestones, and there have been many celebrations during the past five years.

The next goal is to celebrate a full year without any accidents. After all, Empower had two incidents at the mills in 2017.

- According to Empower’s HSEQ plan, we will next focus on risk assessments, which will be used more effectively from now on. Our goal is to better identify any hazards before starting work. We will use technical means and software to conduct risk assessments in order to have a standard process, not one based on the memory of different individuals, for risk assessments, Saarainen says in conclusion.