Safety first Cementing a safety culture

July 10, 2015


“Be safe!” How many times have we heard this said to us by a family member or friend? Or we have said this to a loved one? And yet, we never seem to tire of repeating it. We remind people we care about to be safe, to travel safe, and we inform them we have reached safely; if we are in a dangerous situation or area, we tell them we are safe...but what exactly is safety?

During many years, Atlas Copco has put tremendous efforts into building a culture of safety. The ‘many reasons to stay safe’ awareness campaign was inspiring people all over the world to both improve the physical environment and to change behavior. Big improvements have been achieved; however, more needs to be done before the Group reaches its target of zero accidents in the first place, and then manages to stay on that level. The overall objective is to have a sustainable safety culture cemented in each and every corner of the world. All employees should come home safely after a day at work. The latest Insight survey shows that safety awareness levels are high among employees. When asked “Is safety important at your workplace?” 90% answered they were in agreement. This is already very encouraging. However, the number of accidents is no longer decreasing at the speed it used to, rather, the curve has leveled out. More focus must be put on safety from all aspects. So how can the zero target be reached? Safety awareness programs and communication are certainly two of the key components. But that is of course not enough; the workplace must be safe in itself be it an office, a vehicle or a service site. The ultimate focus of the communication should be on changing behavior. Here it is important to learn from what others have done, from within the Group or by other companies.

The SHEQ mission

In July, the Group’s SHEQ council got the mission from Group Management to focus on a sustainable safety program. The objective is to increase awareness levels to 100%, and to further reduce accidents to zero by creating a total safety culture. The new program aims to specifically address road safety as more than 15 000 employees have their workplace in a car, van or on a motorbike. Here outreach is a challenge. How do you approach people out on their own, sometimes in remote places? Lars Eklöf, President of Industrial Technique’s Service division and Chair of SHEQ said “Employees, customers and suppliers must all be safe while visiting our sites or working with our products. We should not be satisfied until we have a total safety culture with 100% awareness of the importance and – of course – zero accidents. And that will only be achieved if we change our behaviour and make safety an integrated part of everything we do.” Shalini Sharma, Corporate Communications manager, Atlas Copco India, is the project leader with the task to develop the next toolbox for the Group. She said “I encourage all of you to share your best idea on how to increase safety further. Any activity that you believe can be used by another business unit is welcome. Please send it directly to me.” Scott Barker, Underground Rock Excavation, about his view on safety: “Safety is the top concern for our operations and our products. We strive for zero accidents in all that we do; nothing else is acceptable. To reach that goal, we systematically identify risks and work to remove them through process and product designs. Employees are rewarded for identifying potentially hazardous situations so that we can work to eliminate the possibility for accidents. And even when we are operating for long periods without accidents, we work with our safety programs to keep awareness high and drive further improvement.”

Safety Other Global