The Kemi bioproduct mill project of Metsä Fibre, part of Metsä Group, has progressed as planned and on schedule. Construction works are now in the most active stage. Concrete castings and the installation of concrete element building structures are currently underway. Mechanical installations have also begun, and their number continues to increase.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought extensive special arrangements on the site. Stringent precautionary measures exceeding official requirements are now in place to guarantee safety. Contractors from various companies have been assigned separate staff and dining areas to minimise close contacts, for example. Proactive coronavirus safety work also includes mass testing of employees working on-site, as well as coronavirus vaccinations offered to all employees interested in taking them at the site.
As the project progresses, the number of employees working at the site daily has risen and now exceeds one thousand. Safety Manager Jenni Veijola is jointly responsible for area and personal safety and security at the bioproduct mill site with the safety team, which includes a health and safety representative and five safety experts in addition to Veijola.
“In large projects, it’s crucial for me to grasp the big picture, including the order of different work stages and the risks involved. It’s important to understand how to coordinate various tasks from a safety perspective,” she explains.
Cooperation with the contractors and project organisation is strong and smooth.
“In our discussions, we concentrate on aspects identified as involving a high risk, and which were our safety focuses. We control and supervise work and keep our eyes open for areas of development.”
According to Veijola, her duties call for cooperation skills and the ability to listen to and support others. A degree of resolve is also necessary.
“You need to know which aspects are critical and have no room for compromise.
What we emphasise is that Metsä’s project organisation and the supervisors of contractors know the rules of this site and monitor adherence to them in their own work groups. Anyone who observes hazardous activities is responsible for addressing them.”
Safety is the top priority
Veijola’s working days are very varied. She trains others, reviews safety plans, discusses matters with employees and supervisors, and communicates with the key authorities. After completing her MSc degree in environmental technology at the University of Oulu in 2012, Veijola wanted to work in industry, where it is possible to combine many different things.
“I first worked as a Production Supervisor for Akzo Nobel at Stora Enso’s Nuottasaari mill. Three years ago, I moved from there to Kemi to start work as Regional Safety Manager at Metsä Group’s Kemi mills. Then I was appointed Safety Manager of the bioproduct mill project.”
Veijola describes her job as a great opportunity to learn more about aspects related to the safety of large construction sites.
“We really focus on systematic operations. When you plan work in advance, you also pay attention to how things can be done safely. Being systematic is also important for the efficiency of work. However, planning alone isn’t enough. It’s also important to supervise work to ensure everything is carried out as planned and agreed.”
In her work, Veijola encounters many duties in which the priority is to ensure people can return home safe and sound at the end of the day. She is particularly proud of the project team and the site’s contractors, who work well together every day to ensure on-site safety.
“Safety is a priority for everyone. I really enjoy working with this team and can only be satisfied.”
If problems arise, Veijola challenges every team member to consider their opinion about a suitable solution.
“When we discuss a topic together in a varied bunch of people, we’re bound to come up with good and diverse ideas. The people who work here are professionals in their field, and cooperation that evolves throughout the project helps us achieve good safety results.”