We design and manufacture pulp bale conveyor lines for the needs of paper and board mills. We also supply broke conveyors that are placed under paper and board machines, which allow rejected paper or cardboard materials to be fed into the pulper and the can therefore be reused as raw material.
During my extensive career in plant solutions for the forest industry, I have worked with many different customers, clients and individual solutions. Experience has shown that the trends in the industry are not very aggressive, and changes are happening relatively slowly. During the last 5-10 years, the industry has taken a considerable leap towards even safer work environments, as mills have begun to consider the safety of mills, solutions and the entire work environment as an investment. The level of safety in different mills have been very variable in the past, but today the “tail end” has raised itself to the very good level. According to Metsäteollisuus ry, the number of work accidents in the industry has dropped by more than 70 percent in just over ten years in Finland.
The trend of better work safety also suits us at Lahti Precision very well, because we always aim to supply as safe solutions as it’s possible.
A safe working environment is a matter of corporate responsibility
Like many other trends, the trend of work safety in forest industry plants has also started in the United States. In multinational organizations, the trends are of course spread everywhere, because the factories must be equal regardless of their geographical location. As corporate responsibility has become more important to the company strategies, it has also significantly increased the importance of work safety as a part of companies’ social responsibility. A responsible employer does continuous work to develop a safe everyday working life and aims for zero in terms of work-related accidents.
The forest industry has never been prone to accidents if you compare it to the construction industry for example. However, the importance of a safe working environment as a reputational factor of plants has increased with the strategic responsibility. The serious accidents of large companies become public in an unwanted way and bring reputational harm to the entire corporation. Of course, the most important factor is the people working at the plant and securing their safe working life.
Many things affect work safety
The processes of the forest industry are highly automated, and most of the tasks are usually monitoring the plant. Risks occur in various exceptional situations, such as investigating machine malfunctions and maintenance work. The machines, structures and functional solutions used in the work environment must support safe working and movement in the plant.
The machinery directives determine what the equipment must be like, and there are laws, regulations and recommendations related to the protections. Of course, factories also have their own requirements that define work safety.
The structures of the work environment consist of the safe access routes, lighting, sound environment and quality of the air. Functional factors include the movement and traffic at the workplace, as well as the good order and cleanliness of work premises.
Insight and situational awareness come with the experience
If you turn the spotlight from the employer to the machinery and solution supplier, work safety starts in the planning phase. Various accidental situations are speculated and examined from the point of the machines, the installation and the supply as a whole in the risk analysis. The mapping consists of what kind of instructions, measures and protections can be used to prevent these risk situations.
The background of everything is, of course, the pursuit of a zero in work accidents. All the engineers and salespersons involved in the projects must be especially aware of the changing regulations. With decades of experience and knowledge of various plant environments, we are able to provide an understanding and situational awareness that goes above the regulations, and that really is the main factor that adds value to the customer. Our experience gives us the insight to bring optimally built solutions that comply with the regulations.
In the end, it’s largely about knowing what kind of environment the plant operators work in, what they do there and what kind of malfunctions and other disturbances they might have to deal with. The key in creating a safe environment is seeing the plant as whole and keeping in mind, that the plant must also be usable and efficient.
Feedback from factories is important to us, so that we can use important information from the field in our future projects. Continuous cooperation with industry professionals is therefore an essential part of our own development. The best feedback for us is, of course, that the equipment are safe and the number of accidents is as close to the zero as it can be.
Work safety in plants also applies to installation and maintenance work
Work safety in forest industry plants also applies to other operators in factories, for example machine supply and maintenance. When Lahti Precision comes to install the solutions, a safety plan is required so that our staff is not exposed to the risks when installing the machines. The written HSE plan, which deals with health, safety and the environment, tells you how to act so that working is safe. Accidents of other operators occurring in the factory environment are also recorded in the factory’s accident statistics.
Maintenance visits also come with their own necessary safety bureaucracy. Previously a verbal work permit was enough to visit the plant, but today it needs to be in writing. Of course, our own staff’s permits, safety cards and fire work cards for example must be in order. In some plants, operators are even required to complete first aid training. The factory’s safety training course must be taken online in advance, and the operator is also familiarized on site with plant-specific safety regulations.
At Lahti Precision we take care to ensure that our experts have the necessary permits and training. To guarantee that the permits are up to date, we maintain a common register of trainings, permits and cards. When a permit is about to expire or skills need to be acquired, the person will be informed that the card must be updated. This way we make sure that the permits are always in an exemplary condition that meets the requirements.
Work safety is an investment where you should not settle for a minimum solution
Investing in safety-related solutions may comprise up to a tenth of total costs of the acquisition. Investing in work safety is not seen as an expense, but an investment, which pays for itself every time a potential risk situation does not materialize thanks to the planning, prevention or safety solutions. Of course, an accident always brings costs and damage to reputation, not to mention risks to people’s health or feeling safe in everyday work, which are difficult to put a price on.
Laws, safety requirements and customer wishes regulate the minimum level of work safety. However, we never strive for minimum solutions. We always aim as high as possible in order to find as safe factory solutions as possible.
The paper industry relies on Tamtron's expertise and knowledge
Tamtron's experience in paper and board industry associations is decades old. The equipment of the paper industry is quite long-lasting, so co-operation within them is also a long-term partnership.
Sustainable solutions for the paper and wood processing industry
The sum of good experiences and a long history has created trust and credibility - Lahti Precision's name is known