When ABB supplies SSAB with an electric motor and a control system, ABB’s installers usually carry out the installation, commissioning and testing of the equipment. They operate in the work area and comply with the safety requirements of both companies.
“ABB’s safety policies differ in some areas when compared to our own, so we can learn from them," says Tuomas Meriläinen, Safety Manager, SSAB Raahe. About five years ago, the two companies came up with the idea of collaborating to develop safety at work in a systematic way. In the summer of 2018, ABB experts went on a safety visit to SSAB's mill in Raahe in Finland.
“We introduced safety management and shared enhanced ways of working on both sides, and also had a safety walk at the mill. Continuing our efforts, we met at ABB's factory in Helsinki the following year. It is important that we are able to share insights directly so that we can learn and teach each other,” says Petri Vuolukka, Industry Segment Manager, ABB.
While the visits were paused during the pandemic the work continued with conducting a safety webinar, to which SSAB invited its partners that operate in the Raahe mill area. Both the companies provided the content of the webinar. In addition, ABB offered an online five-part webinar series that focused on safety in the industrial environment and safe electrification of the mill.
There are no professional secrets in safety
“There are no professional secrets in the field of safety at work. We are happy to share information,” says Jukka Huhta, Safety Manager, ABB. According to him, it was clear to ABB from the beginning of the collaboration that SSAB had a good level of safety and that the mill’s safety organization was working well. However, the partners found a clear target for further development, which Meriläinen immediately grabbed.
“ABB had reduced its incidents by actively making safety observations and handling them carefully. Based on their example, we started to increase the number of observations in Raahe. We were successfully able to reduce the number of incidents,” says Meriläinen.
Huhta considers it important that every employee understands the core issues of safety and dares to address even the behavior of their own colleague or shortcomings in the customer's premises.
Meriläinen and Huhta agree that there is always room for improvements. For example, after increasing the number of safety observations, ABB started to focus on the quality of observations rather than the quantity. According to Meriläinen, SSAB is now moving in the same direction.
Increasingly accurate risk assessment of installation projects
When ABB’s installers work on their projects at SSAB’s mill, the risks are always assessed in good time and the situation will be reviewed again when the work starts. According to Huhta, the focus of the assessment has been determinedly shifted from general work risks to work activity-based risk assessments.
“At its best, the customer is actively involved at every stage of the risk assessment. At SSAB, we always work closely together to ensure that our work does not endanger either us or them,” says Huhta.
Meriläinen considers a comprehensive work activity-based risk assessment to be one of the most important operating modes that ABB presented in the webinar to SSAB Raahe's suppliers.
“Our collaboration will certainly continue. People work so easily in their own bubble unless they consciously seek inspiration from the actions of others,” says Meriläinen.