In addition to our own people, thousands of employees from our subcontractor network work on our construction sites. How does SRV lead and manage occupational safety at a shared workplace?
We carry out our construction projects in accordance with the SRV Approach together with an extensive, professionally skilled and carefully selected partner network. On a typical construction site, you will find not only the employees of subcontractors, but also their subcontractors and labour hire agencies. In addition, many people visit the site during the day, such as partners or the workers of transport companies that carry loads to the site. This means that many different operating and safety cultures meet on the site – this not only provides massive opportunities, but also poses challenges for safety management.
“Mobilising responsible operating methods in practice requires long-term efforts. We’ve been developing network management for a long time. That said, learning at its best is a two-way street. We have many long-term partners that have proven their worth and which have also provided us with tools for developing our operations,” says Jari Korpisaari, Safety Manager, SRV.
Safety is the outcome of cooperation – everyone is responsible for pulling together to ensure safety. In the construction industry, site is always a “shared workplace” – in which one employer has principal control and where more than one employer or independent worker operate either at the same time or one after each other. Each actor – the developer, prime contractor, independent worker or contractor and employee – has a legal obligation to account for and ensure safety.
“In its projects, SRV serves as the main contractor. This means that we’re responsible for safety as the supervisor in charge of ensuring occupational safety and health monitoring. Of course, it’s up to everyone to be responsible, too – they must take care of both their own safety and that of their workmates. Everyone must commit to the guidelines and plans. They must use safety equipment and report safety deficiencies to either their own supervisor or SRV’s work management,” emphasises Jari Korpisaari.
To foster a shared operating and safety culture, the responsibilities and operating methods must be clear.
During orientation, everyone working on a site receives all of the essential information about the company, the site and its special features. Remote orientation is a good tool that we have used for this purpose on our construction sites. Launched online in 2017, it standardises orientation practices and ensures consistent quality in the orientation process. In addition, employees complete site-specific orientation before starting work. Effective mutual communications, identification of common hazards and collaboration in occupational safety also play a key role.
“We hold a kick-off meeting with subcontractors before starting work, along with weekly contractor meetings and separate meetings as required. In addition, we review site operations during day-to-day work. We identify hazards during work risk assessments carried out in each working group – these are always performed before work is started on independent tasks on site. The contractor clarifies the risks involved in their work, including the impact on other work being done at the same time,” says Korpisaari.
Visitors are also committed to safety. Visitors must report to their host and always agree on their time of arrival in advance. They are met at the site office. There, they fill out SRV’s visitor form and put on safety equipment. The host accompanies the visitor during his/her whole visit.
The Wood City office building is rising in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki. On the construction site, we asked three employees, how occupational safety is evident in their work.
“Cooperation is built on discussion. I try to make sure that workers don’t take unnecessary risks and negotiate with them about the reasons behind safety. We have operating instructions in place to ensure that everyone gets to go home safe at the end of the day.
The most useful tool in promoting safety is attitude. Safety attitudes have evolved greatly in recent years. You can influence someone’s attitude by explaining why things are to be done in a certain way and thinking how to clearly express this. Because people of many nationalities work on site, and we don’t always have a language in common, we often go over the issues with the contractor’s supervisor. He or she then informs their own employees.”
Kalevi Erola, Safety Representative, Handyman, SRV
“I promote occupational safety by ensuring that my own things and actions are up to standard. I always keep my workstation tidy and my safety equipment in good condition. Of course, I intervene if I notice that someone else is in danger. It’s good to address even the smallest issues on site, but it’s important to remember to prioritise – life-threatening issues must be rectified immediately.
The most useful tool in promoting safety is your direct supervisors – you must report your observations or any shortcomings to them. However, more efforts should be made to ensure information flow and the supervision responsibilities should be indicated more clearly.”
Kaj Lostedt, Head Electrician, Quattroservices Oy
“Common sense goes a long way in ensuring occupational safety. For instance, I always put on my harness if I have to go close to the edge. I wear a helmet and goggles because that’s smart. The most useful tool in promoting occupational safety is your phone – you can use it to report shortcomings. I report shortcomings either to our own working group or the SRV Safety surveillance system, which we use to record observations.
Things have gone really well on this site. Our primary communications channel is a twice-weekly meeting where we review matters such as safety and upcoming work phases.”
Jyrki Fatal, Supervisor, LTQ Partners