Elements of Workplace Safety
Occupational safety is a legally mandated activity that aims to improve the work environment and working conditions to ensure and maintain employees' work capacity. The goal is to prevent work-related accidents, occupational diseases, and other physical and mental health issues resulting from work and the work environment.
Suvic's HSEQ Manager, Eetu Pajala, explains that the company takes safety seriously and aims to invest in it: "In simple terms, occupational safety embodies proactive safety management. At the organizational level, we diligently and systematically focus on fostering it.” At Suvic, the legally established requirements form the foundation upon which the company builds its own excellent occupational safety culture, influenced by various factors. Work methods, processes, conditions, and work and operational environments are constantly changing, and new physical and stress-related hazard factors emerge alongside traditional risks. As work is continually evolving, managing occupational safety requires ongoing development.
In the field of energy construction, where Suvic operates, both internal and customer-set safety requirements are particularly high. "The level of safety in green energy construction is fundamentally similar to that in more traditional oil and gas sectors, and the demand level for operations is the same. Compared to traditional construction, sustainability also appears as a bigger factor," Pajala reflects on the sector-specific differences in construction.
Aiming for zero accidents
Suvic's goal is zero accidents. With more than half of 2023 already passed, Suvic's personnel haven't had a single accident resulting in sick leave, whereas subcontractors have had one. "Even in 2022, Suvic had no accidents leading to sick leave. However, one cannot rest comfortably in this statistically favorable situation for a moment. We continuously share information and improve practices and reporting," Pajala emphasizes.
According to the HSEQ Manager, occupational safety involves caring for oneself and others: "We have such valuable people on the construction sites that everyone should be able to return home healthy after a workday. Employees are invaluable to us as skilled professionals and colleagues, not to mention how important they are to their families and loved ones waiting at home."
Even if a safety incident doesn't cause significant harm, Suvic has a system that allows observations to be reported conveniently even when on the move. Pajala explains that this ensures that deviations are documented and responded to with corrective actions: "Everyone on the construction site has a responsibility to ensure that the next colleague arriving doesn't slip on the same banana peel. The idea is that every single accident can be prevented. And when something does happen, it's important to go through what could have been done differently to avoid it in the future."
Mandatory induction can take many forms: either as a necessary evil or as an impactful discussion that makes you think. Pajala describes how Suvic uses real-life case examples during induction: "It leaves a very different impression when you show pictures of actual damages and discuss the consequences of the event: how long someone had to take sick leave, what kind of damage occurred to the equipment."
Investing in occupational safety in everyday life starts with simple things like ensuring that machines and equipment arrive at the construction site in working order. "Unplanned maintenance is one of the biggest risks," Pajala notes and continues, "Similarly, seemingly obvious things that, nevertheless, need continuous monitoring include ensuring that work clothes, work methods, and lifestyles are in order. When it comes to gear, we must also listen to the employees, as clothing and protective equipment that are suitable, functional, and personally appealing are more likely to be used."
Personal well-being is an essential part of occupational safety
Mandatory occupational health services are preventative in nature. Suvic also provides all employees with occupational health insurance, covering medical, imaging, surgical, and physiotherapeutic services, as well as medications. "In practice, our package includes everything that the doctor deems necessary on a case-by-case basis," says Tiina Autiola, Suvic's contact person and controller for occupational health services.
Suvic supports recovery and maintenance of work ability in various ways, including leisure and cultural benefits as part of employee benefits. In the future, there will also be Epassi health benefits available, including services like massages and dental care. Additionally, the company offers the opportunity to attend sponsored team events. The annual "TYKY" days are also eagerly anticipated events that allow staff to meet colleagues in various locations.
However, it's ultimately the employee's responsibility to take care of themselves. Daily work and observation capabilities largely depend on individual choices. Even these basics come back into play: rest, nutrition, and exercise.
Strengthening occupational safety through interaction
When a near-miss situation or accident occurs, the most important thing is to react quickly and address the underlying causes comprehensively. The goal is to prevent the recurrence of a workplace accident not only at the specific site but also at all current and future sites where conditions may differ from the location of the accident.
At Suvic, the process for responding to a near-miss situation or workplace accident is communicated to all employees so that the steps are clearly remembered in case of an incident. Initial information about deviations is promptly communicated to stakeholders, including customers. "Internally, we aim to communicate all significant deviations and their causes in detail to everyone within a few days," says Pajala, and adds, "During deviation investigations, we want to involve the best experts right from the start, them often being the employees themselves."
At Suvic, they recognize that the company has numerous partners in terms of occupational safety: customers, subcontractors, authorities, as well as internal and external auditors. "We strive for continuous and in-depth interaction with various stakeholders, and we receive valuable information, tips, and advice from different partners. We also have a training-friendly organization and aim for the best and most up-to-date occupational safety information to be available in the workplace," Pajala concludes.
Key elements in occupational safety include:
- Documented processes and instructions
- Tools and clothing
- Personal protective equipment and gear
- Attitude (including systematic consideration of safety deviations)
- Functional work community and corporate culture
- Preventive measures
- Personal well-being and recovery