Health & Safety Update

Stay safe

It’s amazing how that simple phrase has made it into our daily language. Yet behind its simplicity is an exceedingly complex challenge that we’ve all had to deal with in different ways this year.

LTIF & TRCF figures of the KAEFER Group

The key message, however, that health and safety should be a priority, is a most welcome step towards promoting a genuine safety culture and reducing the number of incidents and accidents in an organisation.

Because behind every number and statistic is a person. That’s what we must remember when it comes to health and safety figures. Fortunately, statistics for this year were very good indeed. Even though it was an exceptionally challenging environment, KAEFER managed to stay below the targets of LTIF 1 (Lost Time Incident Frequency) and TRCF 4 (Total Recordable Case Frequency).

The numbers themselves are a cause for celebration. Yet what they signify is perhaps even more important. They point towards the fact that safety culture is already an active part of the KAEFER culture.

So how was this achieved? According to Thomas Eickhoff, Head of Corporate Health, Safety & Environment (CHSE), “first and foremost it’s about supporting our people in the most effective and professional way. A decentralised approach in which local needs are prioritised helps to tailor safety measures to individual circumstances on the ground.” Also, in a strange twist of fate, the global pandemic has made the concept of keeping safe and healthy an even greater priority than ever before.

Looking out for one another

“We work with sheet metal and wool and in difficult places: where it’s cold, hot, confined and very high up.

“First and foremost it’s about supporting our people in the most effective and professional way.”

Thomas Eickhoff Head of Corporate Health, Safety & Environment

We work in extreme environments where we need to have each other’s backs,” Eickhoff says. “Part of that also means having a constant conversation with key stakeholders to figure out what works and what doesn’t in terms of safety. We have to be there for one another proactively.”

From 51 million working hours without a lost time incident in Saudi Arabia to a range of extremely successful safety campaigns in Australia, Brazil and Poland as well as major improvements in France, KAEFER’s safety culture is bearing tangible fruits. Furthermore, that makes corporate integration more successful, as seen in Spain and in the UK & Ireland. “It’s not just good for us, it’s great for our clients,” Eickhoff adds. “Working with a company with an impeccable safety record is hugely beneficial in business.”

Learning from mistakes

It’s not all perfect, however, as everyone makes mistakes sometimes. The key, however, is how those mistakes are handled. Not acknowledging them or learning from them is counterproductive. “Part of a safety culture is having and open ‘failure culture’ as well,” Eickhoff says. “We actively encourage our people to report mistakes or problems freely and easily. That’s the only way we can profit from a wide range of experiences and learn for the future.”

Speaking of which, what does the future hold? “We’re constantly improving, that’s part of KAEFER's culture as well,” Eickhoff remarks.

“Continuous improvement is something that we will continue to expand and add to the KAEFER culture covering quality provision, professionalism and other aspects as well.”

Stress in the spotlight

Health and safety is not just physical, there’s a strong psychological element to our wellbeing. From the stress of spending many months in remote areas and the pressure of performing in difficult environments to the issues faced when working at home without physical contact with colleagues, the work we do every day affects our mental health. This has become a new focal point at KAEFER, and measures have been taken in terms of recognising the importance of our psychological wellbeing.

In the words of Co-CEO Roland Gärber “we’re on a path to zero and that’s the destination we have to keep in our minds. Health and safety isn’t just a benefit or a numbers game, it’s of primary importance to our success: physical, mental and in terms of our business as well.”

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