Occupational safety and health cooperation in maintenance at mining sites
Maintenance activities are one of the most critical safety and health factors in all industries, but especially in mining. Well-managed proactive maintenance leads to cost-efficient, accident-free, smooth operations at mining sites.
Occupational safety and health cooperation must always be managed, irrelative of who is providing maintenance services. In this article the focus is on outsourced maintenance and what the occupational safety and health responsibilities of the customer are (mining company), and on the maintenance service provider at a shared workplace.
First put focus on your own company's occupational safety and health management
The employer or employer’s deputy is responsible for ensuring that work can be carried out without incidents or health risks.
The employer or employer’s deputy also specifies safety and health targets and ensures sufficient resources to work safely without endangering anyone’s health or life.
The department manager (or foreperson having similar responsibilities) represents the middle management and is responsible for the development of the work environment and cooperation, in addition to safety and health cooperation. The department manager ensures that each work project is organized in such a way that everyone can work safely without endangering health or life, and knows the safety culture of the workplace. The department manager is also responsible for ensuring that instructions and orientation documentation is up to date.
The work supervisor is an immediate supervisor of employees and is responsible for work supervision. They are responsible for ensuring that instructions and safe working methods are followed in daily operations that every employee gets ample work orientation. The work supervisor also monitors the daily condition of the working environment and the work community, also from the work wellbeing point of view.
The employee is responsible for following instructions and regulations and using protective equipment. They are also responsible for informing the supervisor of any hazards they observe or find. The employee must not remove any guidance or warning markings or remove/switch off any safety devices without permission from the supervisor. They must refrain from dangerous and physically or mentally harmful workload duties and should always report such practices immediately to their supervisor. The supervisor thus has the possibility to plan and implement any necessary corrective measures to remove or minimize the risks caused by observed danger or load factors.
In the case of using hired workers, the difference from the occupational safe and health point of view compared to a company using its own workers, is basically only that the hired labour company pays the salary and provides the occupational health care. In practical terms, the responsibility of occupational safety and health is on the employer using hired labour.
Occupational safety and health cooperation shall be organized by the employer from the moment the first employee is hired. The employer and its employees must work together to maintain and improve occupational safety and health in the workplace despite how many employees have been hired. One to one dialogue about occupational safety and health issues should be natural discussion between any employee and their employer.
All workplaces with 10 or more employees must, by law, have an occupational safety and health representative and it is the employer’s duty to ensure that one is elected by employees. Primarily the employer shall carry out dialogue with the occupational health and safety representative. In small workplaces however, all employees should participate in dialogue regarding the safety and health of their own work and working environment. Each employee has absolutely the best knowledge of the safety and health hazards regarding their own work. If any concerns occur, they should immediately be raised with their own supervisor. This is not only a wish; each employee has the responsibility to cooperate in occupational safety and health issues.
Workplaces with at least 20 employees must have an occupational safety and health committee consisting of representatives of the employer, the employees and managerial staff. The role of the committee is to promote occupational safety and health. Occupational safety and health representatives have the right to attend and contribute to the committee’s meetings proactively before any changes e.g., to workers, operations, or facilities having safety and health take effect. The committee can make suggestions to the employer concerning improvements to working conditions, occupational health care, occupational safety and health training, as well as management. The committee also helps to organise activities aimed at maintaining the employees’ work ability and work welfare.
Managing of Occupational Safety and Health in cooperation with personnel
Occupational safety and health are managed as a part of front-line work. However, Occupational safety and health must be managed in cooperation with an occupational safety and health organization (at least 20 employees), with the occupational safety and health representative (at least 10 employees) or, with all personnel (1…9 employees) as described above.
The employer must organize adequate occupational safety and health training for employees' representatives. These trainings are offered by e.g., associations, expert organizations, labour market organizations and occupational health and safety companies.
Occupational safety and health policy and first aid preparedness are examples of documents and processes which shall be prepared together. Worktime tracking is one example of the tools that are needed to implement the employers’ general duty to exercise care. Added to this, communication supports the opportunity of the entire work community and each employee to participate in improving work and workplace safety.
In addition, cooperation should cover following topics:
- Education and guidance of employees
- Actions of forepersons and the organization
- Each individual’s occupational safety and health inspections plus initiative and notification procedures regarding working conditions
- Investigation and assessment of hazards, injuries and load factors
The investigation and assessment of hazards, injuries and load factors shall cover all work, workstations, and workplaces, also at shared workplaces. Examples of hazards, loads and load factors in work and the work environment are listed in the Chart “Examples of Hazards, Injuries, and Load Factors at Work and Working Environment”.
Promotion of occupational safety and health in shared workplaces
Well-managed occupational safety and occupational health cooperation in all companies working at a shared workplace forms a strong basis for taking care of the occupational safety and health of the shared workplace.
The customer plays a key role regarding to the promotion of occupational safety and health in a shared workplace. By setting common targets preferably in line with Thinking Zero principals a customer gently guides and supports contractors and service providers to pursue incident, burnout, and injury-free working.
When all contractors and service providers tune their own occupational safety and health procedures towards Thinking Zero practices, they help to support a culture of undisturbed working days. Undisturbed working days produce the best result when evaluating not only the level of occupational safety and health and operational responsibility, but also productivity.
With good planning, scheduling and well-managed work, including maintenance work in a shared workplace, all work can be done correctly at once. Proactive occupational safety, and occupational health measures support smooth workflow, and therefore the management and cooperation of occupational safety and occupational health is profitable for all employers in a common workplace. In other words, the recommended aim is that no disturbances, no interruptions and no rush is faced at work which raise the probability of accidents and harmful stress. Therefore, the high-quality management of occupational safety and occupational health by the customer is profitable for all employers in a common workplace.
- Who is the employer? Who are the employer's deputies?
- Managing director
- Other members of the Company’s government
- Department heads
- Group leaders
- Experts who give and guide others' work
- Zero accidents
- Zero sickness absences due to work
- Zero harmful exposures
- Zero employers, supervisors, and employees unaware of occupational safety
- Zero tolerance of workplace bullying
- Zero cases of job burnout
- Zero no-flow working days
A shared workplace is a workspace shared by employees of several different employers and independent contractors. Provisions on cooperation in occupational safety and health matters in a shared workplace are laid down in the Act on Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement and Cooperation on Occupational Safety and Health at Workplaces 44/2006 (Chapter 5a) and in the Occupational Safety and Health Act 738/2002 (Sections 49–51 and 53).
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