NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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invisible.gif (43 bytes) VTT develops new tools to support risk management decision-making.
Assessing workplace risks promotes safety and trouble-free production

Improvements in industrial safety go hand in hand with reductions in production stoppages: they affect each other and they boost corporate profitability and the productivity of the economy in general. The Panel Assembly Department at Masa-Yards' Helsinki Shipyard has received great assistance from VTT in promoting industrial safety and reducing costly production stoppages. A risk assessment method developed by VTT has been used to systematically analyse every task performed by 18 of the department's 140 employees. The analyses revealed 367 industrial safety risks or potential production stoppages.

"Our foremen and workers have a key role to play in generating ideas to improve our working conditions. Some of their ideas were immediately adopted for development," says the shipyard's Department Engineer Niko Rautiainen.

Rautiainen says that even before the latest development project the department has had the goal of reducing the number of industrial accidents and production stoppages by 20 per cent every year. VTT's risk assessment method has been incorporated into the annual action plan, and it is helping to make that goal a reality.

"Now that this group of our workers has started to play a concrete role in risk assessment work, they will later be in the best position to spread industrial safety information throughout the department and to motivate everyone else to take an active interest in their working conditions. It is the task of the department's management to prioritise development actions and ensure that the necessary resources are made available."

Research Scientist Taru Lehto of VTT says that companies are able to make good risk assessments and analyses, resulting in many action proposals for the improvement of working conditions and safety. On the other hand, it is often difficult for management to decide which actions are the most urgent, the most effective and economically the most profitable - put simply - what is the best action.

For this reason Masa-Yards, Lemminkäinen Corporation, Rannila Steel Oy, the City of Tampere's Department of Services for the Elderly, the Finnish Work Environment Fund, the National Workplace Development Programme and VTT decided to seek new tools to support risk management decision-making in the workplace. They established a joint project within the framework of which VTT and Tampere University of Technology have created the new methods. In the future these will be used to support comprehensive risk management in workplaces, the systematic identification of risks, and decision-making on the best course of action. At the same time the costs of development actions to improve working conditions will be taken into account, and the active participation of company personnel and occupational health and safety organisations will be ensured.

"Working conditions are improved by taking conspicuous, correctly chosen and justified actions. But you also need a positive attitude to the goal of reducing all kinds of accidents and stoppages. The support and oversight of management is a prerequisite for the achievement of a successful outcome. We have already now achieved good results from this VTT-led project, and the different kinds of companies and organisations involved in the project have provided us with quite new perspectives on risk thinking. A training matrix and safety audits are just two examples of the good ideas to come out of the project," says Rautiainen.

The Panel Assembly Department at Masa-Yards' Helsinki Shipyard manufactures and assembles huge panels measuring 16 metres by 12 metres. The main jobs in the department are panel work and welding.

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Taru Lehto
Photo: Katri Valkokari

Additional information:

VTT Industrial Systems,
Taru Lehto, Research Scientist
Tel. +358 3 316 3267, +358 40 839 2751

Masa-Yards, Helsinki Yard
Niko Rautiainen, Department Engineer
Tel. +358 9 194 2801


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Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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