November 22, 2019

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Safety Culture

‘Safety culture is very connected to heath’

SHP speaks to Head of Safety & Health at Scania, Mikael Welinder, about learning from mistakes, having the right mindset and impactful health programmes.

ScaniaMikael is in his 20th year at Scania, beginning his career at the Swedish commercial vehicle manufacturer in facilities management before moving into a role within safety five years ago. The firm, which is best known for its heavy trucks and buses, also manufactures diesel engines for heavy vehicles as well as marine and general industrial applications. Mikael’s role is a global one, so he is responsible for all of Scania’s 52,000 employees worldwide.

“At Scania, safety is the number one priority. We talk very much about culture and mindset and that, together, will create good safety behaviour. You could have instructions, you could have processes and so on but, in the end, we talk about human beings that need to have the right mindset and the right behaviour. My connection to safety is that I have 14 years military service, where obviously you have to safety seriously.”

Scania has a large focus on safe and healthy workplaces and wellbeing, Mikael says this is ‘crucial’. “We care about employees and we also know that an unsafe work environment is bad for productivity and equality. Brand communication is very much connected to having a safe and healthy environment for the employee.

“We focus very much on sustainability in the company and you can’t do only one thing when you focus on sustainability. When you start to talk about people and planet, you also need to take care of the whole scope around people. Safety and health is a very big part of that. It doesn’t matter if you think about the planet and then don’t care about employs. No one wants to go to a job in the morning, knowing that there is a risk that you won’t come home tonight. That’s not an option for us.”

Learning from mistakes

Mikael spoke about how he regularly speaks to board level executives, inviting them to his management group, to better understand their mindset and expectations from safety. “We have the same mindset, they want us to support their part of the company, to have zero accidents, zero incidents and to have a learning organisation where we learn from our mistakes and improve the safety and improve the half of our employees.

“When you have executives that have that kind of mindset, its much easier to work and the message from the top is genuine.”

“For us, safety culture is very connected to heath. We strive to have a proactive way of working. You could have a physician working closely with a safety engineer during audits and self-audits, looking into how to work with safety. You need to have the sufficient knowledge and competence in areas like chemicals, dust, welding fumes, workplace design – to allow an appropriate place for people working on manufacturing stations. So, we work very closely with both health and safety and they very much go hand in hand.”

Building a successful safety culture is hugely challenging when working in a company the size of Scania, “especially,” said Mikael, “if you’re trying to work towards the same culture.”

“When a company is that big and you have people spread all around the world, different nationalities and workers with different cultures in different countries, respect for safety is different between different regions and countries across the world. But even if it’s difficult, we shouldn’t stop doing it.”

Impactful health programmes

Mikal will be speaking as part of a panel discussion on Impactful Health Programmes at April’s EHS Congress, he talked to SHP about some such examples at Scania. “We have a safety behaviour programme, which includes a lot of short modules where its possible for the group manager to stop production for 30 minutes. This ‘stop time’ is planned every week and gives managers the possibility to work with staff on the development of processes and can use one of the modules in the safety behaviour package. During this stoppage, there will be discussions within the group about what is ok and what is not ok, and gamification plays a big part. This is a very easy package for the users to implement.”

“Another is our work balance tool, which is connected to social work environment where you have an easy tool, as a manager, to facilitate a discussion with your employee. It encourages face-to-face interaction between managers and staff about topics such as resources, demands, work-life balance, recreation, role description, social environment and so on. This can help identify the risk, at an early stage, of an employee that has a problem or an issue, which is very beneficial to not only. The employee, but also to the company.”

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