Achema, one of the largest fertiliser plants in the country, takes care of the safety of its employees every year. A lot of effort and investment is being made to prevent accidents from happening and preventing deaths. Here we are talking to Mindaugas Jančauskas, the Head of the Safety at Work Division, about their special attention to work safety.
– What was the previous year like for Achema?
– No accidents at work occurred for the first time in the company’s lifetime. Therefore, we can be proud of these results and state the fact that things are on the right track in terms of work safety. On behalf of the company’s management board and the Safety at Work Division, I would like to thank all the employees, because without the personal efforts by each of you we would have not been able to achieve this.
In 2017, we had three accidents at work, while in 2016 we had six accidents. I am really glad that last year went smoothly.
– Did you have any accidents on the way to or from work last year? Any other violations?
– Four such cases have been recorded in the Company. It is regrettable that some cases of violating safety and health requirements at the Company still occur. Fifteen employees were reported to have committed offenses. A number of people still ignore personal protective equipment. There were also other failures related to road safety and repair works.
Achema also hires people from other companies under a work contract, so they are given special attention. Last year, four employees from other companies were reported to have violated the requirements in our territory.
I always say that you should hurry slowly, prepare well, think everything through, and remember to use the necessary personal protection measures and to work safely. I can guarantee that everything will go smoothly then.
The overall culture of safety at work is improving, but we still have to make an effort. Great attention must be paid to repair work permits, site preparation and performance control, and personal protection measures is an integral part of the company’s work safety culture.
– What are the most important things to look out for?
– Our business would be simply impossible without a daily risk assessment before performing one or another job. Both the factory and the workers, as well as the environment would face severe, even catastrophic, consequences. This is how I assess the risk because it is the most important part of work safety. If we predict all the factors that can affect us from the very beginning and take steps to eliminate them or at least to reduce them to an acceptable level, then it is very likely that no one will get hurt. If we fail to do this, the likelihood of errors will increase. I always say that you should hurry slowly, prepare well, think everything through, and remember to use the necessary personal protection measures and to work safely. I can guarantee that everything will go smoothly then.
– What is the main duty of the employer?
– The employer must ensure safe and healthy working conditions for the employees. This is a basic requirement. This requires the development and continuous improvement of the management, control and engineering systems. It is not the declaration, but proper and reliable operation that help prevent the accidents.
– What should the employee do at all times?
– It is the duty of the employee to comply with all the instructions. Failure to do so and failure to use personal protective equipment will sooner or later result in an accident. Also, the employee should not ignore it if a colleague is failing to work safely. Giving a warning is always appreciated.
– What are the essential elements of safe work at the factory?
– It is an educated, responsible, competent staff that makes an absolute majority in the company. It is important to keep in mind that this is determined by the entire culture of the company and a great contribution of the management and the colleagues to the training and development of the employees.
– What are the main measures you apply to make sure that the rules of work safety are followed?
– First of all, we try to remind them of the health and safety requirements at work and that they should be followed. We use several means to do this: relevant information is announced daily on Achema Radio and is constantly updated; video screens in security posts; various guides and other visual material. An important information channel is the managers talking directly to the employees, reminding them of safe behaviour as a habit.
We also have a monetary promotion scheme, i.e., a flat-rate monthly bonus is paid if the employee meets eight work safety criteria. This incentive is called the “Award for Safety at Work”.
– Which areas in work safety could be improved?
– As I have mentioned, a very important information channel for work safety is direct managers. However, I see a gap in their communication. The middle managers are competent enough, but they often lack emotional intelligence. When the information and ideas from the managers reach the employees they are already “mutated” and no longer have that initial load. It is necessary to invest in the development of soft skills in middle managers, and here I see a potential. Another thing is the information technology. Although work safety is a conservative area, it should not lag behind in this field.
– What do you think about companies that pay too little attention to the safety of their employees?
– Such companies simply take a huge risk from a legal point of view. Not to mention the moral aspects. I always remind managers of the Criminal Code. If in the event of a breach of work safety requirements an accident at work occurs, the persons in charge are liable to up to eight years of imprisonment. If an employer does not want to protect their employees, I recommend taking care of yourself. In case of an accident, they might regret it a lot, but it will be too late. This attitude is changing, and now the cases of indifference to work safety are very rare. The tendencies are good, because both public authorities, and employers, as well as trade unions are making a great effort to improve the situation.
– Thank you!
Newspaper of Jonava Naujienos (The News)