Factories reach excellence in workplace safety
Feb 16, 2023
Anora Industrial's factories have developed a good level of workplace safety over the decades, and always answered tightening regulatory requirements. But getting to their current level of excellence required something else – a change in mindset.
At the end of 2022, the Koskenkorva factory reached more than a thousand days without an accident that resulted in a workplace absence. For the second year in a row, the factory received the prestigious Starch Europe Safety Programme's Year Award, which only a handful of factories receive each year.
"It's significant that we are being recognised by the industry. It feels good to be one of the best in Europe. But the most important thing for us is that everyone is safe when they come to work, the workday goes well and safely, and everyone gets home safe," says Aleksi Ikola, Safety and Production Manager.
"The systematic development of workplace safety in our factories has laid us a strong foundation. But the biggest leap forward came when we changed our mindset. These days, we don’t just consider the safety of the physical environment, but also human factors. Workplace safety begins with people's actions, and is largely about cooperation and communication," says Miika Jokinen, Business Unit Director of Industrial Products and Services.
From safety observations to quick action
At Anora Industrial’s old factory buildings, there are many different spaces where employees are accustomed to working in certain ways. Some walkways are open to the weather, which poses particular challenges. Slips and trips during maintenance work and sample taking have been the biggest cause of accidents at work throughout the company’s history, so handrails and steps are typical areas to be improved.
"We open every meeting with workplace safety. As we got more staff involved in workplace safety planning, even familiar spaces and old habits revealed areas for improvement. It was as if our eyes had been opened. Work must be easy and safe. We also now think safety first when it comes to modifications. For example, bolting is used instead of welding when possible on the production floor," says Ikola.
Proactive workplace safety is everyone's business. Each employee at Anora Industrial has a smartphone application that can be used to report areas of potential risk. They can also report if they were able to fix the situation themselves.
"We stay committed to workplace safety together. When we get reports from employees, we receive support and resources for taking corrective action from the management. Everyone knows that it pays to report their observations," Jokinen notes.
Stop – and think about safety
In addition to the physical environment, people's own actions have an impact on workplace safety. Anora Industrial has worked together with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health to develop a human factor-based workplace safety model, which is currently being taught throughout the organisation. With the help of this model, their employees can understand better which human factors affect safety in their work.
"We start thinking about workplace safety at the very beginning of the day. When you arrive at work, how does the day start? Are you alert? Are you able to concentrate on your work in peace or do you feel rushed? If there has been a workplace accident, how did the day go? We go through a lot of different things to help us plan changes from a day-to-day perspective," Jokinen says.
"A good way to practice new thinking is to stop before doing something very mundane, like making a cup of coffee. How could I do this safely?"
Safety lessons from other factories
Safety managers from Anora factories in different countries meet once a month to discuss workplace safety and share best practices.
"We cooperate internationally at Anora. We share our best practices and look at situations from different perspectives – and if there's an accident somewhere, we analyse it together. Last summer, a factory worker was in an accident on an electric scooter during his off time, so we decided to remind our employees in Finland to also be responsible outside of work. We even have safety equipment at the factory that can be loaned out," says Ikola.
According to Jokinen, safety is a journey that's never finished.
"We've put in a few years of hard work, but our real challenge is to maintain the level of excellence we've achieved. We're also aided by the national Nollis-network, from whom we receive new safety themes each month. By discussing a different topic every month at our factory, we're always getting new perspectives on safety."