Several safety agents who work as volunteers come every year from the company’s production units to observe annual maintenance shutdowns of Metsä Fibre’s mills. Their task is to ensure for their part that the work involved in maintenance shutdowns is carried out safely and in accordance with agreed guidelines.
“We visit various maintenance work sites to observe work safety, the cleanliness of the worksite and the compliance with instructions, among others. In this way, we can ensure the safety of those working in the area, as well as of the entire shutdown site. Addressing non-compliance with safety requirements shows that we care,” says Sami Vasankari who works as a process operator at the Joutseno pulp mill and as a safety agent.
“Communication with contractors is at the core of the task. It’s easy for the contractors to come and talk to us. Great observations are often brought up during these discussions, and we then drive them forward,” says Ville Mustonen, a process operator at the Joutseno pulp mill.
Sharing experiences and learning new things
In addition to supporting safety during maintenance shutdowns, safety agents get to see the operating models in different mills, share experiences and learn something new. There’s a lot to draw from.
“People from different mills bring a fresh pair of eyes to a shutdown site at another production unit and are able to make important observations. This is also a great way to network and discuss with experts from other mills. The task allows us to learn a great deal and to return to our own mills with new practices,” explains Saul Toikka, an operator and a health and safety representative at the Vilppula sawmill.
“After working as a safety agent, I now look at safety and observe my surroundings in a new way. Everything I have learned now helps me in my own work as well as in determining correct working methods and tools. They have also proven helpful in providing induction for new colleagues,” says Vasankari.
An important investment in proactive safety work
The Safety Agents operating model was launched in Metsä Fibre in 2018. Currently, the company has approximately 30 safety agents. This operating model is an example of proactive safety work and of using the know-how of the personnel.
“This operating model is a proof of how much we really value safety and that we truly invest in promoting it. It is a part of responsible operation, and its key goal is to ensure that every one of us is getting home safely. Safety is an important value not only for us, but also for our customers,” concludes Mustonen.