UPM has strongly invested in workplace safety in the past few years. The company has also involved its contractors in the effort.
Every year hundreds of contractors work, for instance, at each paper mill. The same safety guidelines and requirements apply for them as for in-house personnel. They also benefit from UPM’s strong focus on improving workplace safety.
For example, at the UPM Kymi mill in Finland, contractor accidents decreased by 87% during the first two years of the Step Change in Safety initiative.
“Now we are more cautious"
One of the contactors is Garanti Mekan, a company specialising in the assembly and maintenance of paper mill machinery. It does maintenance work at the Kymi and Kaukas mills in Finland and was one of the 11 companies globally that received an award for their workplace safety results in 2013 and strong commitment to the UPM safety requirements.
Occupational safety manager Jari Korja from Garanti Mekan notes that workplace safety has improved tremendously in the past few years. The safety equipment has certainly developed and is more carefully maintained than before. However, the greatest change has clearly taken place in people’s attitudes.
"We all now have more caution. UPM and Garanti Mekan never take risks in order to save time. We always ensure safety before we take up our tasks and no-one goes to dangerous places,” he describes. "Investing in safety really is the only way. There is no option.”
Safety leads to efficiency
Taking greater care of workplace safety has not caused any delays. In fact, the new safer ways of working often save time as the maintenance work is now given more thorough preparation than before.
"Thanks to this, we can start maintenance work on the first day of the stoppage and get on with it really efficiently. This saves time compared to the less organised ways of the past,” Korja explains.
Safety training and briefings to all
All Garanti Mekan personnel servicing the UPM machines have taken the generic safety training provided by UPM as well as relevant mill-specific training.
Another safety related activity that is of paramount importance is the safety briefing about the specific area where the team will be working.
"Before we get permission to start, the respective UPM foreman gives us the briefing. It is then our foremen’s responsibility to ensure that everyone in our team operates according to the safety requirements,” Jari Korja concludes.
The change in attitudes has been profound. Even the older generation has adapted to the new way of meticulously going through the safety issues before starting to work. "This is essential. Safety equipment only has value if employees are motivated to use it."