With the culture as a means of competition
How does one create a safe and attractive workplace in an industrial environment that is inherently risky? At Iggesund Mill, they are working with safety culture as an important factor in the competition for the future talents. It’s also good for business.
Offering a positive work environment and good working conditions have become a major competitive factor – especially to attract young talents. Studies have shown that Millennials, i. e. the generation born between 1980 and 2000, seek employers who take sustainability seriously.
Iggesund Mill has the ambition to become the most attractive employer in the pulp and paper industry. Here, the forest industry company Holmen manufactures bleached paperboard, which is used for high-quality packaging for products such as perfume, chocolate and wine. Chemicals, noise, machinery and equipment create constant occupational health risks in the production facility.
When a new organisational structure was introduced at the mill in 2015, management believed that a holistic approach was needed for occupational health, safety and environment (HSE).
Positive spill-over effects
To work with occupational HSE is to reflect the shared attitudes, values and perceptions between management and employees regarding safety and work environment. ÅF conducted an operational assessment in order to give an independent view of the systematic work effort and work culture in the HSE area. The aim was to create a safer workplace with fewer work-related injuries, along with increased employee well-being. The mill management also believed that an improved systematic approach and structure in the HSE area would generate a positive impact on the business as a whole. Common attitudes, procedures and processes would increase quality and efficiency of the production.
A better level of maturity in safety culture
With the assistance of ÅF, a comprehensive effort was initiated that included an assessment of the present situation of the work on a systematic work environment, proposals for a future goal position, and finally recommendations for action to be taken.
“The assignment was to identify the gap between the reality and applicable requirements and based on this, assess the level of maturity of the facility in terms of safety culture and the work concerning the work environment”, explains Lisa Vedin, the driving consultant on the project from ÅF.
The business operations were analysed in their entirety, based on the requirements put on an industry of Iggesund Mill’s type. Both risk management coupled with the technical status of the facility, as well as the employees’ behaviour and attitudes concerning safety issues, was studied. A picture of the present situation was established by means of interviews with key parties within the organisation, visits to plants, written questionnaires, and a workshop with the plant’s management.
ÅF’s own gap analysis method was used in order to assess the degree of maturity in the work concerning the work environment. Seven different dimensions were assessed – including leadership, operations planning, operative activities, control and follow-up.
“We suggested a number of areas where improvements could be made, with the aim of attaining a level where there was a good compliance with the requirements. Improvement activities concern i. a. getting even better at what the plant is already good at and partially living up to certain demands that are not fulfilled today”, explains Lisa Vedin at ÅF, the initiator and senior advisor for the project.
This assignment resulted in the #IBsafe* project, which includes a comprehensive plan of action for the work concerning the work environment and safety-related efforts at Iggesund Mill over the course of the next three years. The plan commenced its implementation in May 2017. The project is being led by Lisa Vedin, who has established an inter-functional project group together with representatives from the plant’s various departments.
“Our entire plant management has been involved. Involving everybody and receiving external support means that these issues actually have a chance to get aired which facilitates a discussion”, notes Olov Winblad von Walter, plant manager at Iggesund Mill.
Culture more important than structure
Even if the primary aim of the project is to ensure a safe and secure workplace, both Lisa and Olov believe that the systematic thinking introduced in the HSE area will have positive impacts on other parts of the organisation as well. It will financially benefit all of Iggesund Mill over the long-term.
It is essentially to change the employees’ way of thinking and acting – to establish a change in the culture throughout the entire company.
"The most exciting part of the project was that it wasn’t all about technology and structure – instead it’s been a combination of technology and culture that pulled us through”, remarks Olov Winblad von Walter in conclusion.
* Meanings of #IBsafe:
Iggesund Mill safe
I Be safe