On a journey towards zero-accident culture

26 September 2017
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At UPM Paper ENA, the whole organisation is working towards the zero-accident culture. Without a solid safety record, all other achievements become meaningless.

Safety is one of UPM Paper ENA’s strategic focus areas. The amount of lost time accidents has declined during the past years, but the goal is continuous improvement in safety and no serious accidents at all. Unfortunately, at the beginning of this year there was a fatal contractor accident with a large vehicle in Shotton paper mill in the UK. The tragedy has been discussed at all mills to prevent serious accidents occurring in the future, and recommendations concerning vehicle and people separation are being rolled out in the business.

Steve McNamara
Steve McNamara

Safety Director Steve McNamara joined the UPM Paper ENA team last November. He has been visiting all Paper ENA locations and helps to tackle the key issues which need attention.

“Making paper is an old and established business. People know how to make paper, we have strong experience and good training and very competent people. They know what they are doing, and the excellent work done is being recognized. What I want to add is that we need to focus on safety quality and pay attention to four crucially important measures which will drive the serious accidents down,” McNamara says.

Simple measures to change the safety culture

First of the four measures McNamara lists is the management’s commitment and visibility.

“Any time the managers make a decision, safety must be put first. There may be some demanding situations, sometimes a decision may even cause a temporary loss in production, but our front-line leaders need to be brave. For me, the key question is if I would want my family member to work under the conditions in question. Would it be safe? What would I want for my dearest people? This type of thinking should apply for everyone.”

Safety walks, safety observations and safety discussion take place regularly and will continue to do so. Again, the focus should be in quality. “Walks, observations and discussions should not be about numbers, or how many observations are done. They are about going out and finding that people are working safely, caring about people and safety, and to highlight risks where we need to make improvements.”

Six lifesaving standards are the major safety themes for UPM. McNamara sees essential to fulfill all the elements of these standards: risk assessment, working at heights, mobile equipment and cranes, lock out – tag out, permit to work and confined spaces. “These are important and need our full attention. A serious accident would mean failure in one of these standards,” McNamara emphasizes.

The fourth measure McNamara points out is simple risk assessment. “If there’s no documentation or instructions, a simple risk assessment should be done. We should train our people to do this assessment quickly, and with high quality,” he states.

One Safety to help in follow-up

Internal safety plans, based on the four crucial measures above, and audits show if the safety quality is high enough. McNamara is eager to have the UPM-wide One Safety reporting system fully utilized in all UPM Paper ENA mills.

“In the future, German and Austrian mills will join the system,” he says. “We will get more specific data out, for example safety observations and types of injuries on certain location, and we can allocate responsibilities and use the tool for highlighting specific safety issues.”

McNamara points out that one other focus area in safety is that all contractors are treated the same way as UPM employees. “Our expectation is that contractors follow the UPM rules at all our locations.”

“When we talk about safety we need to keep things simple and easy to understand. It is about people being able to work safely and stay healthy. Safety quality is not easy to do, but it means that people on the machines know what they can or cannot do. In a nutshell, safety is about people making the right decisions,” Steve McNamara concludes.

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