Stay safe!

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It’s amazing how this simple phrase is part of our everyday language. Yet behind its simplicity lies a hugely complex challenge that we all face in different ways every minute of every day.

However, the key message that health and safety must be a priority is a most welcome step towards promoting a true safety culture and reducing the number of incidents and accidents in an organisation. Because behind every number and statistic there is a person. That’s what we need to remember when it comes to health and safety figures. Fortunately, last year’s statistics were good. Despite an exceptionally challenging environment, the KAEFER Team managed to stay below the set targets for our injury frequency rates.

The numbers are proof that work towards maintaining a strong safety culture at KAEFER are paying off. The challenge is keeping up the momentum when such a high level is reached. As a learning organisation and in the spirit of continuous improvement, we can all make a difference in keeping our working environment safe and keeping ourselves healthy, which is all part of KAEFER’s safety culture.

So how is this personal involvement achieved at all levels? According to Michael Sturm, Head of Corporate Health, Safety, Environment & Quality (CHSEQ), “First and foremost, it’s about supporting our people in the most effective and professional way. A decentralised approach, where local needs are prioritised, helps to tailor safety measures to individual local circumstances.” He adds: “The key is to emphasise action, transparency, and proactivity and this is expressed in a new, centrally developed philosophy that we implemented in early 2023: We take action 4 our HSEQ. With this approach, we share best practices and cultural experiences that support local implementation.”

Michael Sturm

Progressive development of HSEQ maturity

Being proactive requires a different way of thinking. Taking a forward-looking approach before anything has happened, and analysing observations, requires a change in mindset as we actively work to develop our HSEQ maturity. Michael explains: “In 2023, we started to conduct maturity assessments in all countries to identify best practice behavioural tools as well as general opportunities to further develop maturity.”

The results have been analysed and the next steps have been jointly developed within the global HSEQ Excellence Network, which is in constant exchange to identify what’s working well, collaborate closely and share best practice. “Our ultimate goal is to be a strong learning organisation, which is why we are constantly improving our networking, not only through our working groups, but also by personally connecting our talented HSE managers in ‘HSEQ 2gether’ calls, as well as an HSE manager exchange programme between different countries,” continues Michael.

Examples of rewarding performance

Sharing is caring

It’s not all perfect, though. The key is to observe with open eyes and pay attention to the smallest details. Failing to identify and learn from potential risks is counterproductive. “At KAEFER we say that sharing is caring,” Michael adds. “If you see an unsafe condition or risk of any kind, we want you to report it, raise awareness and take action so the problem can be solved.” To make this possible, we are currently rolling out our ProtAct app on a global scale. ProtAct – which is linked to our HSEQ reporting tool Sphera – enables everyone at KAEFER to do this. Anyone can report an observation, a near miss or an incident directly on any device. That’s the only way we can benefit from our wide range of experiences and learn for the future, based on the involvement of supervisors and employees.

Speaking of which, what does the future hold? In the words of Sandro Barrach, Chief Operating Officer of the KAEFER Group: “A consistently successful safety culture requires, above everything else, that Health & Safety is the undisputed priority both on the shop floor and in the boardroom. To further support this, in 2024 we will focus on rewarding performance, backed-up by leading indicators. This will ensure that line managers and employees are engaged and act for our HSEQ. ProtAct will certainly support this process.”

Sandro Barrach

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