Safety first: Becoming the world’s safest steel company

SSAB is determined to become the world’s safest steel company, with the objective of achieving zero accidents, work-related injuries and illnesses. Everyone has the right to a healthy, accident-free work environment in SSAB. Our goal is to prevent all injuries and work-related illnesses. We will minimize health and safety risks everywhere we operate.

Safety first chart

Safety at SSAB

Every SSAB employee has a personal responsibility to work safely every day; it is a fundamental requirement for working at SSAB. All SSAB employees are asked to sign SSAB’s safety pledge, which is a commitment to always put safety first. Contractors and other partners working at our sites are required to follow the same high standard of safety regulations.

Safety is the most important part of how we operate, and it is integrated into our management system. Safety work at SSAB is guided by SSAB’s Group governing documents on safety, which are mandatory for all divisions and companies within SSAB. The H&S principles included in the governing documents comply with or exceed all applicable laws, regulations and SSAB requirements. SSAB´s safety management system fulfills the requirements of international standard OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001 and is implemented at all SSAB sites.

Cooperation in health and safety across the Group is ensured by two cross-divisional safety groups. The Group-level Health and Safety Council (H&SC) has primary responsibility to coordinate, cooperate and propose policy recommendations and strategic initiatives to the Group Executive Committee (GEC). The H&SC is the decision-making body on operational safety issues relevant for SSAB. The H&SC is also responsible for promoting a positive safety culture within the company. The H&SC consists of senior representatives from all SSAB divisions, as well as subsidiaries Tibnor, Ruukki Construction and Merox.

The Safety Expert Group shares information on divisional safety programs, achieved results, best practices, information on serious incidents, and recommendations on preventive actions. The group also proposes company-wide safety initiatives to the Health and Safety Council.

The line organization has the overall responsibility for managing and developing health and safety work and ensuring compliance with all applicable legal and other safety requirements. The line organization is also responsible for carrying out risk assessments, supported by safety organization and the employees of the evaluated areas.

SSAB applies occupational health and safety programs as required by local legislation in each of the countries where we operate. Safety programs are normally developed by occupational health and safety committees consisting of representatives of the local management and employees. In Sweden and Finland, SSAB has health and safety committees at all workplaces where more than 50 employees are working on a regular basis. In the US, SSAB has a variety of safety committees, which provide employees an opportunity to participate in worker health and safety issues.

All SSAB units and sites are required to create and maintain processes, procedures and necessary tools to identify systematically safety hazards arising from work, the working environment, machines and tools and working conditions, to regularly assess the risks arising from the identified hazards, to plan and carry out corrective and preventive actions to eliminate or minimize those risks and to maintain and update the risk assessment data at all times. The five most common causes of serious safety incidents in the steel industry are: moving machinery, falling from height, falling objects, gas and asphyxiation, and moving cranes.

Risk assessments cover all existing, new and modified systems, processes and operations. The results of risk assessments must be widely communicated to all internal and external employees who may need the information. All risk assessments are documented. This documentation and all related data is maintained according to division/unit level procedures. Risk assessment documentation and data are available for review purposes at all times. Risk assessments are reviewed and updated when necessary. The recommendation is to check risk assessments at least every 3 years and every time whenever changes have been made.

Work on process safety is an important part of preventive health and safety work. At SSAB, process safety is defined as a blend of engineering, operations and fatalities management skills focused on preventing catastrophic accidents and near misses, particularly structural collapse, explosions, fires and toxic releases associated with loss of containment of energy or dangerous substances such as chemicals and petroleum products.

Every year, hundreds of employees from external companies work at SSAB, particularly in the areas of maintenance and repairs. Contractor companies are screened for strong safety practices. SSAB also provides contractors with safety training sessions and discussion forums in order to increase their safety awareness. All contractor accidents are included in SSAB’s safety statistics.

The safety of our products has been ensured by adhering closely to all legal requirements relevant to our products. If any non-compliance should arise, corrective actions would be defined and executed, and customers affected by this non-conformity would be informed. No such cases occurred in 2020. SSAB also regularly informs customers regarding legislation like RoHS, REACH and on Conflict Minerals, about SSAB´s approach and actions to ensure compliance with the requirements. SSAB has also published Environmental Product Declarations for all its product categories with information about the chemical composition, lifecycle effects and safe use of the products.

SSAB’s key performance indicator (KPI) for safety is lost time injury frequency (LTIF) and total recordable injury frequency (TRIF). All divisions have annual safety targets including both LTIF and TRIF, and report monthly on safety performance to the GEC.

Safety performance in 2020

SSAB’s lost time injury frequency resulting in an absence of more than one day (LTIF) in 2020 was 3.7 (4.2), with a total of 101 (126) injuries among SSAB’s employees and contractors. SSAB’s own employees’ LTIF was 3.2 (4.0) and for contractors it was 6.1 (12.7). In 2020, a total of 73 (102) injuries (LTIs) were incurred by SSAB’s employees and 28 (24) by contractors. Overall, the development in safety was positive, particularly in SSAB Special Steels and Ruukki Construction. SSAB Europe was experiencing challenges and therefore started a special program in order to improve the situation, with good results as the number of accidents decreased strongly during the last part of the year.

The most general types of accident at SSAB are injuries to fingers and eyes, and musculoskeletal injuries such as knee, ankle or back injuries. The commonest injuries sustained are wounds or other superficial injuries, sprains, strains, bone fractures or concussion.

Focus areas and key safety actions in 2020

The long-term work to improve safety continued throughout 2020 with many activities. In addition to continuous safety management procedures, the work includes the following:

  • New Group-level safety targets were defined and set as part of the new sustainability strategy
  • Preparation of a new two-week safety training program in SSAB Europe continued, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the program had to be postponed and several planned pilots were cancelled. The intention is to run the program in 2021. The objective of the program is to ensure a culture where safety and health are always prioritized
  • Development of more engaging safety communication to better engage our employees in safety work. Part of this entails increasing safety communication toward a more people-centric and human approach
  • Further strengthening cooperation and information sharing across the company
  • An even stronger focus on fully integrating safety work into the SSAB One management philosophy

Normal safety audits and hazard assessments continued to mitigate the risks of the main causes of serious incidents in the steel industry. Risks also will be reduced by further improving information sharing about serious incidents within the company.

Safety work is also being enhanced by aiming to improve incident data collection and tracking, as well as by utilizing a more systematic approach to analyzing the root causes of incidents.

CASE: Process safety is an important part of our safety

In 2020, the focus of safety work at SSAB Hämeenlinna was on process safety. Process safety is based on processes not causing a hazard to people or the environment at any stage. In addition, process safety protects employees and also includes protection of the environment, property and the surrounding community. A process that is as uninterrupted and well designed as possible reduces the risk of accident. At SSAB Hämeenlinna, our goal is to prevent process safety accidents such as explosion, fire and emissions of toxic substances. Because the site involves process safety risks, it is very important that everyone working at the site knows what a state of emergency is and how to act in one.

"For a few years now we have been compiling all safety observations and near-miss incidents related to process safety at SSAB Hämeenlinna to get an idea of the big picture. By monitoring deviations, we gain a better picture of the matters in process safety that we particularly need to address. Deviations in process safety are also monitored at the divisional level," says Tommi Nisula, Safety Manager at SSAB Hämeenlinna.

 

Health

During 2020, SSAB implemented several measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to safeguard the health of our employees and contractors. Examples of these measures include a ban on all business travel, employees working from home where possible, not allowing external visitors at sites and restricting face-to-face meetings. During pandemic, the company has paid extra attention in supporting managers in taking responsibility of their employees mental wellbeing and ergonomics when remote working. SSAB has contingency plans in place for all production sites and key functions. SSAB is monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to take additional actions where required.

SSAB focuses on health and wellness to promote the overall wellbeing of employees. Wellbeing is a joint responsibility between the employer and the employee facilitated by SSAB’s framework for health:

  • Our Code of Conduct provides the framework for how we act and how we make our employees feel engaged and included
  • SSAB One, our management philosophy, allows us to improve, learn and achieve results that are built on everyone’s skills and contribution
  • A leadership that is built upon our manager criteria, where the individual is recognized and feedback is essential
  • Regular employee surveys allow identification of both strengths and improvement areas, and provide a solid base for planned actions of improvement
  • Occupational healthcare services are provided to employees as required by the law and regulations in each operating country. At our major sites, occupational healthcare services are provided by professional service providers at SSAB’s premises.
  • Monitoring sick leaves and ascertaining the reasons for them. Sickness absence rates are continuously monitored and preventive actions are taken as needed by the line organization.
  • Supporting a healthy lifestyle (exercise and other recreational activities). SSAB offers applicable recreational activities and health promotion services in different countries. These include e.g. support for physical exercise.
  • The absentee rate at SSAB was 4.8% (2.3%) (Employees in Sweden and Finland.

Contractors´safety

Every year, hundreds of employees from external companies work at SSAB, particularly in the areas of maintenance and repairs. Contractor companies are screened for strong safety practices, and partner companies work together with SSAB to ensure the safety of anyone working at an SSAB facility. SSAB also provides contractors with safety training sessions and discussion forums, in order to increase their safety awareness.

Health

Providing a healthy working environment is fundamental for a high performing organization. SSAB takes a holistic approach to wellbeing at work and the quality of our employees working lives as well as ensuring a safe work place. Wellbeing is a joint responsibility between the employer and the employee facilitated by SSAB’s framework for healthy operations:

  • Our Code of Conduct provides the framework for how we act and how we make our employees feel engaged and included
  • SSAB One, our management philosophy, allows us to improve, learn and achieve results that are built on everyone’s skills and contribution
  • A leadership that is built upon our manager criteria where the individual is recognized and feedback is essential
  • Regular employee surveys allow identification of both strengths and improvement areas and provide a solid base for planned actions of improvement
  • Occupational health care services
  • Monitoring sick leaves and ascertaining the reasons for them
  • Supporting a healthy lifestyle (exercise and other recreational activities)

 

For more information on how to be responsible and act safely - check out our Safety videos:

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Download SSAB's instruction regarding SSAB’s safety principles

Download SSAB's directive regarding safety management