Workplace accidents that lead to a compensation payment have decreased by a third at pulp and paper mills in Finland since the mid-1990s. During the same time, work-related accidents have fallen by 15 per cent in the industry as a whole. Serious accidents, calling for at least a month’s sick leave, have fallen by almost half in the paper industry, according to statistics published by the Finnish Federation of Accident Insurance Institutions. Comprehensive figures for 2004 are not yet available.
The frequency of accidents in the pulp and paper industry has likewise decreased. In 2003, there were 32.7 work-related accidents at mills per million hours worked. This figure was 40.8 in 1996. The frequency of work-related accidents was increasing in the late 1990s because the number of working hours was decreasing faster than the amount of compensable work-related accidents and occupational illnesses.
“Factors behind this positive development include zero-accident policies, a change in attitudes and other systematic occupational safety measures. Zero-accident policies incorporate safety management into everyday management culture. Accidents and hazardous situations are no longer considered acceptable and their underlying causes are examined to root out any shortcomings,” says Juha Mutru, LLM, who is responsible for occupational safety matters at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
The occupational safety card is a good example of the successful initiatives implemented in Finland in recent years. The card illustrates that its owner has demonstrated his knowledge of fundamental occupational safety facts.
“Most Finnish pulp and paper mills require that subcontractors have valid occupational safety cards. The increased attention paid by companies to occupational safety certificates and new occupational safety indexes are evidence of improved attitudes,” Mutru says.
About half of the work-related accidents at Finnish pulp and paper mills happen in production-related processes; the rest occur in maintenance, storage or loading.
Juha Mutru, Counsellor, Master of Laws with court training, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
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