Towards more active occupational safety and health

Share
The biggest safety risks in Fingrid’s operations are related to physical work that is mainly performed by main and subcontractors specialised in that field. Occupational safety has always been considered a priority, and is taken into account in the contract agreements.
Foreman Laakso’s hoisting group at the base of the Haapajärvi crossover tower in summer 1948.

Fingrid’s Construction Manager Keijo Välimaa has been running construction operations since 2000.

”In the early 2000s, we mostly relied on the contractor to take responsibility for its operations. We monitored the situation but generally only reacted to events after the fact.”

The volume of construction has increased during the 2000s and contractors now use more subcontractors. A lot of new operators have entered the industry, also from other countries. Detailed procedures are agreed upon in the contract agreements.

“Today’s agreements are much longer, in part due to the increase in safety requirements.”

Active development of safety

In recent years, the focus of occupational safety has shifted to proactive work. For example, the subject is continuously highlighted during the regular toolbox talks held at worksites. Digital technology, such as a web-based reporting system, also promotes development.

All people working at Fingrid worksites must complete the company’s online school, which is available in many languages. Fingrid also offers electrical work safety training for other industry operators. Tests that must be completed in an approved manner are held to ensure that the required qualifications are achieved.

We took a big step forward in 2005 with the decision to equip all new towers with a safety ladder structure. This large investment was considered an important move. We’re currently examining car travel from the occupational safety perspective. Experts drive tens of thousands of kilometers between worksites, often in poor conditions.

“It would be logical to spend most of the working hours on expert work rather than driving from place to place.”

Things weren’t always better in the good old days

For Worksite Manager Tauno Nieminen from Infratek, switching from a building construction worksite to electrical networks meant a change in his occupational safety thinking.

Nieminen’s first worksite on the electricity distribution side was the electrification of Rauhalahti peat power plant in 1984.

“Helmet use wasn’t compulsory in construction work at that time and aps were a common sight at worksites. We had to wear a helmet at the power plant worksite, and it even saved my life once. Since then, the importance of safety gear has been obvious to me.”

Nieminen also remembers the negative attitude towards safety shoes.

“I bought a pair of safety shoes with my own money when I was 15, and the more experienced men laughed at me. I didn’t wear the shoes, and of course that resulted in an accident.”

Today, Nieminen’s job as a worksite manager includes providing induction for new employees. He says that he has received good feedback about his activities at worksites.

“The most important part of safety training is setting an example. It’s hard to ask others to do more than you’re prepared to do.”

 

The safety equipment used when working on transmission line towers has developed a lot since the time this photo was taken in the 1930s. Photo: Fortum Oyj.

Occupational safety and health development in Finland

Occupational safety and health in Finland began with industrial inspection activities in the late 1800s. The greatest concern at that time was the use of child labour in factories. Some large industrial companies employed their own doctors in the 1800s.

Employees in an industrialising Finland were increasingly exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning and other chemical hazards. A lack of proper protective equipment caused physical injuries. These concerns led to the founding of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in 1945. An occupational safety and health act was passed in 1958 and it included mention of occupational health care. The development of occupational health care legislation began in the 1970s.

Joining the European Union in the 1990s influenced the legislation as some laws are compiled in the EU. The EU also brought with it consideration of the necessity for different monitoring programmes and documentation.

The shift from industrial work to office work has reduced the physical risks. Today, people suffer from problems caused by poor indoor air quality and mental stress.

Digitalisation and the move to online systems decreases the amount of concrete movement at work locations, subsequently reducing the chance of accidents. Information sharing in the online world is also more efficient in every way. The internet can be utilised in, for example, safety training sessions. The amount of information also involves risks: incorrect information also spreads quickly. The flood of information can cause mental stress.

An important area of development in the electrical industry has been related to working in close proximity to electromagnetic fields. Exposure to these fields has been studied many times since the 1990s. This work resulted led to a Government decree on employees’ exposure to electromagnetic fields. Safe working methods and protective equipment were developed at the same time.

Expert: Rauno Pääkkönen, D. Sc. (Tech.)

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Fingrid Oyj
Läkkisepäntie 21
00620 Helsinki
Tel. 030 395 5267

Fingrid is Finland’s transmission system operator. We secure reliable electricity cost effectively for our customers and society, and shape the clean, market-oriented power system of the future.