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Working for occupational health and safety

Working for occupational health and safety

04 January 2022

Marke Paavola, our OHS Manager, heads work to ensure improved occupational health and safety.

Marke Paavola

 

”I’m external safety expert at SK Protect and have now been acting as Häggblom’s OHS Manager for a couple of years now. I was already familiar with Häggblom and its OHS matters since cooperation began with the previous OHS manager, “ Paavola says.

She says that many consider investment in occupational health and safety to be a bottomless pit. Working in a truly safe environment boosts work productivity. Proactive OHS work can prevent accidents and workplace injuries, thereby saving time, energy and money investigating them.

”Since it’s hugely important how a company’s overall operations appear to existing and potential customers, occupational health and safety is also an image issue. Looking after the occupational health and safety of employees also affects a company’s ability to retain and attract staff. In other words, how long employees stay with the company and how successful the company is in recruiting new skilled labour,” Paavola points out.

 

Taking Care of Safety

Häggblom’s occupational safety and health committee is responsible for implementation of the basic level of safety as provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002). At Häggblom, the committee steers its own plan of action, which embodies various goals and the actions to reach them. Each unit has its own representative on the committee to ensure all voices are heard. OHS Manager Paavola serves as the company’s representative and her job is to link employees and top management, get them to work as a team and ensure information flow.

“In the Safety section in Häggblom’s Taking Care concept, we focus on developing occupational health and safety well beyond the statutory minimum level. The section sums up the active, long-term work being done to further improve occupational health and safety both of Häggblom’s own people and end product users,” Paavola explains.

 

Training, engagement, actions, monitoring, communication…

One of the greatest occupational safety risks at Häggblom involves lifting and turning, where the items being handled may weigh tens of thousands of kilos. This is why considerable efforts have been made to ensure the safety of these activities. For example, production employees have undergone training arranged by an external organisation and ISO-standard competence training for lifting planners. Completing an Occupational safety card is an example of an action that increases general occupational health and safety. It has been possible to arrange safety card training tailored to the company, thereby allowing a review of Häggblom’s risks in particular.

“Häggblom’s ”Safety session” is a brief, information, educational or informative low-threshold, safety awareness message focusing on topical or practical matters. Safety sessions have been designed to maintain visibility regarding occupational safety at all times on the factory floor, to create discussion about potential risks at the work point and to remind everyone that the supervisor also heads safety matters.

According to Paavola, every employee also has a chance to report any non-compliances noticed, safety observations, near-miss situations, or work injuries. After the report has been received, where needed an investigation will take place involving the supervisor, reporter and OHS manager. The investigation will review the matter, identify the root causes and consider actions to reduce or completely eliminate the risks going forward.

“Safety rounds are also part of participatory safety work at Häggblom. Each unit has separately defined areas, where, for example, reviews of whether personal protective equipment or chemicals are in order take place with employees,” Paavola says.

Occupational safety risks are generally considered to be merely physical, but it is also important to take into account psychosocial stress factors. Close cooperation with occupational healthcare takes place in these matters. Häggblom also employs early support and restricted work injury models. In the latter, restricted work activities are considered for the employee if he or she is prevented from doing his or her own work for some reason. This always takes into account the medical certificate issued by the doctor and the employee’s own ambition.

“All occupational health and safety activities at Häggblom have clear goals, the fulfilment of which is followed up on a monthly basis. This involves the use of several indicators; safety notices reported, lost time injury frequency, safety session frequency and participation rates. The most concrete daily indicator in practice is when an employee arrives back home in a healthy state at the end of the working day,” Paavola says.

Employees respond to an extensive wellbeing at work survey each year and there is also a “pulse survey” several times a year. These help company management to see the direction of development of overall job satisfaction and how successful actions already taken have been.

”Employee communication is really important in occupational health and safety, and significant progress has been made in this over the past couple of years. For example, the CEO’s weekly info bulletin always includes the safety aspect and highlights employee wellbeing – such as workload – issues,” Paavola says.

 

Past and upcoming year

”The year is beginning to draw to a close, which means it’s time to glimpse back into the past and ahead to the future. Our main strategic OHS goal in 2021 was to reach ISO-45001 Occupational Health and Management System standard, and this we successfully accomplished. Auditing was performed by an external party and among other things focused on top management’s commitment to safety work, employee engagement, risk management and opportunities to improve operations – and how these are integrated into business processes,” Paavola says.

Coronavirus has added to the challenges over the past two years. We have understood the potential threats to the health of employees and customers and Häggblom has taken these risks seriously. So far, the measures we have taken have been successful and there have been no incidences of corona among the personnel.

”There are no major reforms planned on the occupational health and safety front for 2022 and our focus will be on further development of our existing good practices. One of our priorities is to continue the orientation of new, old and also temporary employees. There are also plans to better cascade down the participatory safety work of production employees and salaried employees .Occupational health and safety issues must be present at all times and matters must be raised long term. This is about small everyday acts that nevertheless can achieve much good,” Paavola concludes, before wishing all Häggblom employees, partners and customers a safe and healthy 2022.