Aiming for zero accidents

Published 12 December 2016
​Stora Enso’s long-term goal is to become an accident-free workplace. While this work begins with our leaders, building up a company-wide safety culture means that everyone is responsible for making every workday safe. Stora Enso's Anjalankoski Mills have shown that engaging employees by giving actions a local flavour can have a significant positive effect on safety.
To make sure people in all our different production units in more than 35 countries pay attention to safety, robust management tools are needed. Stora Enso uses a specially designed "Safety Toolbox" at all of the company’s mills around the world. This toolbox contains all safety related tools and programmes, and defines minimum requirements for all units. So far these tools have worked well – with accident rates dropping by 50% in just a few years. However, one of the lessons learned along the way has been that the mills need to localise this work according to local tastes and cultures.

Promoting a proactive safety culture at Anjalankoski Mills, Finland

Located in South-east Finland, Stora Enso’s Anjalankoski Mills consist of a paper mill at Anjala and a board mill at Inkeroinen. The two mills’ products include book paper, improved newsprint and boxboard, and they have approximately 500 employees.

During 2014 a disconcerting fact became evident at the mills. In spite of clear progress thanks to 15 years of effort and investments, too many accidents were still happening. In 2013 a total of 16 lost time accidents occurred at the mills – which was 16 too many. “We decided to revamp our whole safety culture, and the best way to succeed was to work together,” says mill director Ari Johansson. “We believe that the best motivation and the best outcomes arise when everyone has a real chance to influence their own working routines and environment,” he adds.

Added local flavour

The mill's local “Accident-free mill” programme (given a name using the local dialect!) has been created together with all personnel to complement the global Stora Enso Safety Toolbox. To kick the programme off, ideas were collected from staff members. This created a treasure trove of promising suggestions on issues ranging from safety instruction in plain language to new innovative coaching methods. The programme was then defined to encompass more than 500 of the ideas, getting everyone on the right track towards an improved safety culture.

In 2015, during the first phase of the programme, safety coaches chosen from among the mill personnel held discussions covering safety issues with every single employee in person. These coaching sessions also spotlighted a comprehensive package of safety measures, including Stora Enso’s existing safety tools, as well as safety risk assessments for all individual tasks.

During the sessions employees also practised making safety observations. Safety observations can be big or small, and positive or negative. They might concern anything from looking out for tangled cords, to reminding colleagues of the importance of using phones hands-free while driving.

“Safety observations are an important tool enabling us to collect practical ideas as well as information on risks,” says Anjalankoski Mills’ occupational safety manager Seppo Viljakainen. “Our goal is that each worker will submit at least ten observations a year. Giving constant feedback on safe and unsafe behaviour ensures that we walk the talk, while also demonstrating how much we care about our colleagues’ safety."

Accident levels heading down

Thanks to the programme, improvements soon became evident, and in 2015 the total number of lost time accidents fell to six. Staff members started to show more concern for their workmates, and consider risks more seriously. More safety observations were reported, and guidelines were more closely followed. Safety issues began to become a more embedded aspect of everyone’s work, instead of being a separate topic.

The target of zero accidents still lie some way ahead, but new ideas to build on the already successful work are now being realised. For example, safety coaches have been chosen from each work team to serve as safety experts in their day-to-day work, and a mobile data app is already being piloted to facilitate the collection of safety observations.