Creating a sustainable safety culture

Several factors are at play when creating a successful safety programme. Encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own and their colleagues’ safety, safety awareness, skills training and effective communication are all important. But to create a truly sustainable safety culture, we believe strong and active leadership is a basic and very important component. Safety is a consequence of how we manage our people.

Effective safety leadership is first and foremost about caring for our people. From the outset employees must be involved in safety initiatives to ensure their success.

We consider our employees to be key stakeholders in all safety, health and environment (SHE) processes, and their views must be heard in order to develop new systems successfully and to improve upon existing ones. To make this possible we set up a SHE working group during 2013 to suggest new ways of improving engagement on all SHE-related issues

The outcome of this working group has already been met with success – a guidance document listing ten tools to facilitate employee engagement has been developed. These include:

  1. Incident feedback and discussion sessions;
  2. Safety cultural awareness workshops;
  3. Employee safety and health committee;
  4. Children’s safety and health calendar;
  5. Safety and health posters of the month;
  6. Safety and health engagement survey;
  7. Safety recognition system;
  8. Managing directors’ safety and health lunches;
  9. Reviewing of safety and health operating procedures; and
  10. 24-hour safety and health awareness campaigns.

During 2014, each of our operations will tailor these tools to suit site-specific needs and roll them out with the assistance of the working group and the respective SHE managers.

Performance in 2013

Our total recordable case rate (TRCR) has steadily improved over the past five years, a significant achievement, but there is great concern that we have continued to experience fatalities. We reported four fatalities in 2013 (See Safeguarding the wellbeing of our employees). As a result of these incidents, all Mondi operations have assessed their top risks and are implementing more robust controls to manage the risks.

Our Major Incident Cause Evaluation system has played a major role in improving the quality of the investigations conducted after a safety incident, as well as in the development of the action items to help prevent repeat occurrences. Guidance documents, training material and reporting templates and management reports support the investigation teams.

Managing risk

Risk is inherent to any business. With some of our employees working in potentially hazardous environments, it is essential to conduct risk assessments in ways that allow risks of low probability but high potential impact to be suitably identified and addressed. This contributes to the elimination of fatal incidents across the Group. We are also revising the way in which risks are assessed, with the goal of simplifying the current methodology, so that all our employees and contractors, at all levels of the operations, are able to understand how to identify the risks and implement suitable control measures. All operations have revised their top five safety risks and developed suitable action plans to engineer risks out and, in turn, ensure continuous improvement towards creating safer workplaces. These action plans will be closely monitored through to completion in 2014.

As with our own employees, we value the safety and health of contractors across the Group. Contractors frequently work at a number of different companies, exposing them to numerous safety standards and the potential for procedure confusion. In order to minimise this, each operation appoints contract managers who serve as the link between the contractor company and ourselves – providing the contractor with all necessary support and guidance. Our guidance documents, detailing safety standards and procedures, are an invaluable tool in facilitating sound contractor safety management.

Training: helping us achieve our safety targets

“Training is an extremely important element in ensuring our SHE performance improves year-on-year and even more so in our drive for zero fatalities and life-altering injuries,” explains Brian. We provide material for the sites to hold three to four training sessions a year focusing on selected elements of our nine safety rules.

Working safely at heights and moving and rotating equipment were the topics covered in 2012 and 2013 and this has resulted in additional focus on these high-risk tasks. Safety guidance material is developed at a Group level. However, sites are required to add in site specific content and we encourage our safety managers to develop training plans specific to the operation’s needs and to make use of practical demonstrations for employees.

Focus on

Making a Difference Day (MADD)

Every year, we dedicate a whole day to helping individuals and teams understand how we can together achieve our goal of zero harm and improve our health and environmental performance. In 2013 our safety focus was on “working at heights” and “operating moving and rotating equipment”.

The purpose of MADD goes deeper than just creating awareness around specific safety goals. Employee feedback from the day shows that these targets are well known and communicated throughout the year. “MADD is more about creating awareness around safety and health topics in general; it’s about walking the talk. All employees – including management – are involved in the activities of the day, showing that we care about each other’s safety and health,” says Robert Hofmans, Business Segment SHE Manager.

Each site is given the opportunity to discuss the safety or health issues most relevant to them. At Mondi Heerlen in the Netherlands, an expert on hearing damage told Mondi employees of his experience of damaging his hearing at a young age by not wearing hearing protection. Robert emphasises the impact this had. “Hearing this first hand and seeing the effects of ignoring SHE rules had an enormous impact on our employees. A large number of people have now gone for voluntary hearing testing at the on-site doctor.” We subsequently upgraded our hearing protection equipment, helping our employees minimise the risk of hearing problems later on in life.