“We have now taken a further step in our work to improve safety,” said site manager Nils Edberg after the end of yet another work environment day on the theme of “SSAB on a safer road” in Luleå.

All SSAB employees in Luleå will take part in a work environment day, which will be held on three whole days in January. This is certainly nothing new at SSAB. Work environment days have been held every few years over the past 15 years. However, this time it felt as if there was a new focus, greater seriousness and commitment. The serious accidents in Luleå last year and a questionnaire to all employees on SSAB´s safety philosophy and behavior paved the way for planning this highly ambitious and well-organized day.

“We had a tough start to last year, with operating breakdowns and several serious accidents, one of which was fatal,” said Nils Edberg. This set our agenda for the rest of the year and we can now see that we have taken several steps towards a new, more conscious safety culture.”

This initiative at SSAB in Luleå seeks to create a culture where safety always comes first in every workplace.

“The purpose of the day was to enable us to discuss with each other and to find out what we can and must do, and how each and every one of us can contribute,” said Malin Lundqvist Ståhl, work environment and health manager at SSAB in Luleå. “We must make our safety philosophy a natural discussion topic in all workplaces and be bold enough to speak out if something is unclear.”

Watch – listen - learn

This is a very extensive program in which a third, around 400, of all SSAB employees are taking part in this particular day. The participants are split up into 14 groups who move around eight stations. A large number of volunteers help to smoothly guide the groups between stations. Each station has a specific theme and all of the senses are utilized where the participants get to watch - listen - discuss and learn.

The participants are split up into groups, with each group being named after different items of safety equipment: protective footwear, visors, jackets, safety harnesses, hard hats, etc. We arrive at a station where we begin with a film about SSAB’s CEO being interviewed by head of SSAB One Robert Kusén. The discussion is about co-workers responsibility and leadership change.

“I would like to see more decentralized decision-making, to release the initiative of all SSAB’s employees and have an approach where safety comes first,” said CEO Martin Lindqvist.

Participants discuss in small groups the message built around the SSAB One management philosophy. The next station is about risk management and risk awareness. The workshop is led by work environment engineers dressed up as ice hockey supporters setting out on a fan trip before a match in Germany. “What do you need to consider before such a trip?” A few minutes of quick discussions in small groups result in the identification of many things which actually leads neatly to a discussion that is the workshop heading. The discussion continues around questions as to how risk knowledge can be further disseminated in the work team. The following station deals with “my conduct and safe behavior” and is headed by persons from company health care.

“Courage and responsibility”

The keywords heard throughout the day were “a learning organization”, “trust”, “courage” and “responsibility”. One of the participants is Tomas Vikström, who works in the Crude Iron department and maintenance. He thinks the safety culture will improve after such an inspirational day.
“We’re working together on these issues, both in top management and on the factory floor,” said Tomas Vikström. “One message that I will take back with me from today is to be bold enough to speak out if there are shortcomings in safety work and to ensure that these are put right.”

During the day, views and suggestions were collected in different ways and will be taken forward for new action plans for continued safety work in all departments. The key to success is the commitment of all co-workers. The seminar clearly considered safety and the work environment in detail from a range of different aspects and no-one attending remained indifferent. The conditions are in place for a completely new safety culture at SSAB in Luleå.