According to the forecast of the Accident Insurance Center, the accident frequency among wage earners will remain at the 2022 level in 2023, and is expected to rise to 25.5 accidents per million hours worked. For Tallqvist, the accident frequency aimed and reached a zero result. How was this result achieved?
Accident frequency rate (or LTIFR) measures the number of work accidents leading to absences. The number can only be reduced by making work safer for the entire staff at all construction sites. Tallqvist's excellent result is not the sum of one factor, but many things affecting the whole.
"Behind this is Tallqvist's conscious decision to aim for larger and more challenging construction sites to work on. As the scope of work grows and the level rises, so do the safety requirements set for contractors. By further developing Tallqvist's level of expertise, we have been able to seek work at, for example, chemical industry sites and nuclear power plants, and thereby also learn lessons related to safety. The high expectations of our customers have become a competitive edge for us," says safety engineer Ville-Veikko Kemppainen from Tallqvist.
A zero result is not exceptional for Tallqvist, as the company's accident frequency rate has always been below the industry average in construction. However, the goal has always respectively been zero accidents.
Kemppainen works as a safety engineer at Tallqvist's Keliber lithium refinery construction site in Kokkola. Collaboration among different actors in a challenging project is important in achieving common and company-specific safety goals.
"I warmly congratulate Tallqvist's staff on their great achievement! For us, safety is always the priority, and we demand the same from our partners. Sibanye-Stillwater's Keliber lithium project can only achieve its own zero-accident goal with the help of contractors," says Sirpa Olaussen, Senior Manager of safety and quality at Sibanye-Stillwater's Keliber lithium project, emphasizing the importance of each actor's contribution to a successful safety culture.
Risk assessment, training, and an open atmosphere help towards zero
Accident frequency is just one, but an important indicator in assessing work safety. A high accident frequency may indicate safety risks and inadequate work safety practices. Therefore, it is important to invest in prevention and safety training to keep the accident frequency as low as possible.
Tallqvist conducts a risk assessment for each project, making it easier to identify site-specific risks and hazards.
"With the assessment, specific risks and safety practices can be discussed with employees, especially if unusual issues arise," Kemppainen explains.
A good safety attitude starts with awareness
According to Kemppainen, the right safety thinking is conveyed to the grassroots level through discussion and teaching.
"A strict rule culture does not last in the long run. It is more effective and impactful to grow employees into the desired safety culture. We talk and discuss things openly, and employees have adopted new practices through practical work," he says.
Construction is high-risk work
The construction industry has consistently had a high accident frequency year after year. Construction involves many high-risk phases and work with large machines, especially in earthworks. The industry's safety measures have also developed more slowly than, for example, industry.
"The industrial sector started earlier to develop processes related to safety, environment, and quality. Construction sites also show an attitude of the so-called old building method, which is fortunately decreasing. Risks are now better understood and talked about more openly," Kemppainen praises.
Tallqvist works every day for work safety.
"We follow ISO standards related to safety and quality. The values of the family business are visible in open internal communication and a flat organization. On a human level, it is really important that work is safe, but the change to a better safety culture is also a competitive advantage and a business accelerator for us. We have achieved good results thanks to the hard work of our entire staff, for which they deserve a big thank you," Kemppainen emphasizes.