“When there’s an accident, the most important thing is to find its root cause and not only react to the immediate cause,” says Jani Jumppanen, Safety Director for Stora Enso’s Consumer Board division. “If someone slips and falls on ice, we know the immediate cause is that ice is slippery. But what was the root cause? Was the area not graveled? Why not? Is there a process we should improve?”Jani Jumppanen
“Ultimately, it’s about trust,” says Sari Sarin, Head of Safety and Occupational Health at Stora Enso. “When employees trust each other and their managers, they feel safe saying that they’ve made a mistake, that this accident happened because of something I did. Then the community works together to find the root cause, learn from it, and make changes – this is the best way to ensure people are committed.”
Best practices should also be shared between teams, with new employees, and between workplaces such as mills:
“Not everyone has to learn the same lessons the hard way – sharing what you’ve learned can save lives,” Jumppanen says.
Safety is a top priority at all Stora Enso mills. Ari Lakka, Process Operator at our Anjala paper mill with a 38-year career at Stora Enso, has seen firsthand how mill safety has improved over the years.
“Making a workplace safe is a never-ending project of course,” he says. “But compared to when I started working here, we have much fewer accidents and people don’t take as many risks. We have safety gear like shoes and goggles that keep us safer, and modern machines are safer to operate.”
Modern machinery and safety equipment provide protection, and they are also a visual symbol of the workplace taking safety seriously. But they only go so far.
“Safety equipment like helmets and goggles don’t remove root causes for danger such as unclear processes or outdated ways of working,” Jumppanen says. “A safety culture is based on people deciding why this is important to them, creating new routines, and fixing problems – together. True commitment to changes, and safer behaviour, comes from the experience of being listened to.”
A safety culture sounds great – but what does it mean to our employees?
“It means a lot,” says Iida Vertanen, Troubleshooting Engineer at our Ingerois board mill. “We’ve always spotted and fixed faults in machines, but a safety culture focuses on people: how they behave and why. Sometimes it’s challenging to implement changes when people disagree on them, but differing opinions also help us see things from various perspectives.”
Lakka and Vertanen have also taken their safety training out the mill gates with them.
“When I’m out chopping firewood at my summer house, I pay more attention to how to do it safely,” says Lakka.
“It has had a surprisingly big impact on my personal life,” Vertanen adds. “I was working on the roof of our home the other day and caught myself thinking that my manager would never let me work at this altitude without a safety harness. I think that needs to be next on my shopping list!”