Safety comes first at Beihai Mill

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Published 1 February 2016
Stora Enso is constructing its largest mill investment to date, the Beihai Mill in Southern China, to high safety standards under challenging circumstances.
The construction of the board mill is part of Stora Enso’s expanding operations in Guangxi Province in Southern China, which include nearly 85 000 hectares of tree plantations. “We see responsible operations as a prerequisite for the wider success of our operations in Guangxi,” explains Sari Sarin, Head of Occupational Health and Safety, Employee Well-being. “High standards of safety and consideration for our entire workforce, both during construction and operation, reinforce our commitment to be a good corporate citizen.”

Overcoming local safety challenges

The complex construction project has posed significant safety challenges, which have been compounded by the need for a large number of contractors, and up to 4 000 workers on site during the peak of construction. In addition, we have prioritised local contractors, including many with low safety awareness at the start of the project.

“In order to overcome these challenges, we have implemented a comprehensive safety programme that has involved extensive training, clearly defined protocols for workers, and strict monitoring procedures,” explains Sari Sarin. “This has made safety a natural part of our day-to-day activities.”

Promoting worker safety

“Our approach involves treating contractors as our own employees, meaning that the entire workforce must adhere to Stora Enso’s standards of safety and responsibility,” explains Sarin. “We have also established a very strict approach to contractor non-compliances and certain zero-tolerance non-conformities, such as not being secured when working at heights.”

The construction project has emphasised preventive measures, which encourages workers to identify and take action on unsafe practices, followed up by corrective action. So far, construction site staff at the Beihai Mill have made over 3 500 safety observations. Management also conducts regular safety inspections and audits to check that work is done according to Stora Enso’s safety standards. 525 safety inspections and 37 800 safety task assessments have been conducted since 2014.

We stay in constant dialogue with contractors through regular safety meetings, and use rewards to help keep safety in focus, such as the monthly Safest Contractor Award. We have been training our operational staff since autumn 2013, over 2.5 years before mill start-up, and make sure all construction workers receive safety training. The site has its own high quality clinic with an ambulance, and 12 doctors from local hospitals have been trained to support the site in the event of an emergency.

A project of this magnitude carries heightened safety risk, but as the Beihai Mill construction site proves, it is possible to create a strong safety culture even in challenging conditions.