Bjarne Moltke Hansen, group executive vice president and chairman of safety 2014 at FLSmidth, talks about the health and safety challenges of building and operating cement and minerals plants.
Tell us a little about FLSmidth.
We are a global engineering company that is a leading supplier of equipment and engineering services to the world’s cement and minerals industries. We supply everything from single machinery to complete cement plants and minerals processing facilities, including services before, during and after the initial construction. This ranges from designing and installing complex above-ground conveyors for transporting aggregate from a mine to a processing plant in difficult terrain; to building and operating large cement plants and more. One of our more challenging projects was building a 20km conveyor for transporting minerals for processing in Africa.
We employ over 15,000 people globally, including around 800 travelling engineers.
What does your role entail?
I am the group executive vice president for the Customer Services division, which offers engineering services such as the construction, overhaul, operation and maintenance of production lines and plants in the minerals and cement sectors.
In 2013, the company launched a renewed focus on achieving health, safety and environmental excellence, under the theme ‘Safety above all’.
As part of this, each year, a member of the group’s executive management assumes overall responsibility for HS&E performance and initiatives, and in 2014, this fell to me.
What are your main health and safety considerations?
The main risks are to the travelling engineers and site-based personnel, who often work close to huge, complex machinery and moving vehicles such as diggers. We therefore recently introduced a set of 10 key site safety rules, which we are rolling out to all staff and contractors through training, instruction and feedback sessions, covering precautions such as always reporting unsafe conditions and using personal protective equipment correctly. These will be supported by an updated site safety handbook setting out common, safe working practices for all tasks that all staff and contractors must follow globally.
What initiatives have worked for you?
As part of the renewed focus on achieving HS&E excellence, we have launched a number of initiatives aimed at both ingraining a positive, company-wide HS&E culture and building workers’ competence for safe working. For example, in 2013 we launched a programme of audits, where the safety team, engineers and others identify and assess HS&E hazards, risks, procedures and performance for various sites and projects. The idea is to share lessons across the group, raising performance globally.
We now also run dedicated annual health and safety weeks to help engage all staff globally on HS&E. The latest week sought to link the benefits of good health and safety with producing quality plant and machinery, and we used posters and e-learning sessions to illustrate how preventing all types of dangers and production-related failures can save both people’s lives and money.
All management meetings must now begin with a health and safety message or initiative, and all directors and managers must conduct regular safety walkarounds at all sites, looking for hazards and seeking feedback from staff.
What are your safety plans for the next few years?
The global nature of our workforce means it can be difficult to bring staff together in one location for training, so we intend to expand our use of the British Safety Council’s online health and safety training and qualifications.
We have also launched a new global near miss and incident reporting system, which allows us to more easily spot trends, and implement corrective actions at a local, country or global level.
These various initiatives are paying off, both in terms of ensuring fewer lost time incidents and building positive attitudes among staff towards our goal of keeping everyone safe at work.
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