Working conditions and a safe working environment, as well as safe working methods are statutory basic requirements for companies, but they have also become an important part of a company’s image as well as a source of future competitive advantage.
Section 1 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states:
The objectives of this Act are to improve the working environment and working
conditions in order to ensure and maintain the working capacity of employees as
well as to prevent occupational accidents and diseases and eliminate other
hazards from work and the working environment to the physical and mental
health, hereinafter referred to as health, of employees.
In other words, improving occupational safety is a long-term effort to eliminate both physical and mental hazards, with a focus on preventive action. The aim is to detect issues before anything happens. Training is an important form of preventive action. The theme for this year’s International Safety Day theme is Good Orientation Practices. This is a theme which Epec has long been implementing extensively with the induction practices for new employees.
Occupational Safety Representatives go through important safety-related issues with each new employee. Additionally the specific issues that need to be taken into account in the new employee’s own work safety are addressed. The orientation program has received positive feedback from our new employees. In addition, Epec has long been collecting security observations and works on making the process more effective with the help of a new system and adding security findings also to our suggestion rewarding system. Epec extensively supports the employees’ well-being on their free time, and boosts collaborative efforts through financial means, events and campaigns. Preventing action is also a very important part of maintaining the overall well-being of the personnel.
In recent years, Epec has made major acquisitions to improve ergonomics. All employees had the chance to switch to electronically adjustable desks and new chairs, if they wished to do so. In production, the layout of the warehouse has been changed and updated with shelf structures and adjustable workstations. Workstations in the production hall are currently being upgraded in accordance with the 5S methodology. Significant improvements have also been made in the air quality of the production and maintenance areas. All these changes improve the well-being and safety of the personnel and have a direct effect on work comfort.
The mechanisms of physical work safety are very concrete and often easy to solve. Actually, the most challenging aspect is to detect and solve the issues of mental well-being. Epec monitors mental well-being through risk mapping and welfare surveys, which consist of the feedback provided by the personnel. Additionally, actively monitoring indicators, such as sick leave, accidents and other occupational safety indicators give valuable information on the well-being of employees. The most important thing is to maintain the Epec Spirit, which ensures that the employees have the channels to open up about things freely. The fact that employees feel they can discuss matters requires a confidential working environment where equal treatment and acceptance of diversity are key.
Technology, communication channels and new forms of work are also challenging organizations and employees. Managing new technologies, the blurring boundaries between free time and working life and for example telecommuting also add challenges to occupational safety management. A company should be able to develop ways to observe occupational safety factors in time, without a full knowledge of what those factors are. Here, employees play a key role in observing and reporting on potential physical or mental hazards affecting their own work.
Epec has a good atmosphere and a close-knit work community, and we have done a lot of work for the benefit of a prosperous and safe work environment in the recent years. However, maintaining a good working atmosphere is a constant effort and it can crack quickly if it is not properly maintained. We feel it is important to improve existing practices, as well as to develop new ones, to support the good spirit. We do our best to make it easy for employees to always find a person to turn to, when faced with a problem. More than anything, effective and open cooperation among the personnel will create the most effective conditions for early detection, which will make it possible to correct any shortcomings in time. Epec’s effective and dedicated delegates Sanna Ojanen, Occupation Safety Representative for clerical personnel and Markku Ranto, Occupational Safety Representative for factory employees, are actively working to advance these issues. Together with Ponsse Group, we are adding new tools for this work. For example, LTIF monitoring has been included as one of the labor market monitoring indicators this year.
On the picture above, Sanna Ojanen (Occupation Safety Representative for clerical personnel), Markku Ranto (Occupational Safety Representative for factory employees) and Nina Kristola (Quality Specialist). The work of the Occupational Safety Representatives is also supported by the strong safety thinking brought to Epec by the Occupational Safety Director, CEO Jyri Kylä-Kaila. He has brought up security issues in various forums and has brought his attention to issues such as the following:
- Safety and the environment are strongly emphasized in Epec’s operations in 2019
- No one should be injured or become ill at work
- Security is very important for customers, stakeholders and especially for all of us
- Safety and environmental issues will be major sources of competitive advantage in the future
This year a number of concrete security-related measures are taking place. Security and environmental related communication and continuous improvement are being actively pursued at all levels. Our goal in occupational safety is that our employees really feel that working at Epec is safe, both physically and mentally, and that our work community is enjoyable to be and work in.
When this goal is reached, we can say without reservation, as one of our employees said, “This is precisely the kind of the team I want to belong to. I am proud to be a part of the Epec team!”