HEALTH & SAFETY
KAEFER’s Health and Safety Culture
Invariably identified as the top priority in KAEFER’s biennial Stakeholder Survey, health and safety has assumed even greater importance in people’s minds since the beginning of the pandemic. The emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 has been catastrophic. With the words “stay safe” on everybody’s lips, however, it also provided an opportunity to strengthen KAEFER’s health and safety culture – and continue the vital work of reducing the number of accidents and incidents around the world.
First and foremost, a health and safety culture is about supporting people in the most effective way – through a decentralised approach in which local needs are prioritised and safety measures designed accordingly. Individual safety measures vary depending on whether we’re working with sheet metal or wool, in hot or cold conditions, whether we’re working high up or in confined spaces. One thing that remains constant, however, is how much difference it makes when people are asked for their opinion on what works and what doesn’t. The point was made forcefully in a film produced and released by KAEFER in the UK and Ireland during 2020. A genuine health and safety culture means constant communication, with everybody willing and able to take responsibility for everybody’s safety!
From Saudi Arabia, where KAEFER recently recorded 51 million working hours without a lost time incident (LTI), to Australia, Brazil and Poland where targeted awareness campaigns have actively encouraged people to report mistakes or problems freely and openly. Creating an environment in which people feel free to talk about failures as well as successes is the only way to ensure we keep learning for the future.
“We are proud of the safety performance of the KAEFER team worldwide. Nothing we do is more important than a safe and healthy behaviour, both on site and in the office. A big “Thank You” to all colleagues for their outstanding performance working smart and safe during these challenging times.”
Thomas Eickhoff, Head of Corporate Health, Safety & Environment
When sites around the world began opening after the first lockdown in May 2020, KAEFER people did everything possible to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. Despite having to incorporate numerous new protocols at speed (and despite significant restrictions on everyday life requiring unprecedented levels of patience and cohesion) LTIFs remained “at or below 1” throughout 2020 – an extraordinary feat, only possible thanks to the professionalism and dedication of our employees around the world, both on site and in the office.
Making the best of a difficult situation
With a bit of imagination – and a sense of humour – KAEFER people have been supporting one another throughout the pandemic. In Belgium, for example, management surprised workers with ice cream and chocolate as a small thank you for their hard work and perseverance. In both Malaysia and Poland, teams kept morale high with drawing competitions for staff and their children on the topic of fighting the virus and staying safe at work. Our congratulations go to everyone who organised the events as well as everyone who participated at the same.
Industrial projects in the Middle East tend to be big. They tend to attract workers from different cultures, who speak different languages, all of whom have to collaborate on sites which are often hot, humid and dusty. Forging a sense of community under these circumstances, with people working together to ensure each other’s safety, is a key priority. In addition to regulating safety standards across the region, Ramneek Datt (Regional Director of KAEFER in the Middle East) and his team have introduced a well-being program – featuring a system of “camp uncles”, social evenings and fitness events – and introduced a safety committee structure designed to empower all employees to speak out freely on safety issues.
Protective masks were in short supply in the early months of the pandemic. Quick to see an opportunity to help, KAEFER WANNER teams in Pompignac and Saint-Nazaire began producing masks in their workshops – enough to protect their colleagues on site and make a substantial donation to the local community. In a similar display of solidarity, the KAEFER team in Spain also donated protective equipment, this time to a local hospital caught short at the outset of the pandemic.
World Mental Health Day at KAEFER
Health and Safety is not just physical. There’s a strong psychological element to our well-being. After 5 years of successfully implementing a group-wide Safety Culture, the CHSE team are increasingly determined to focus more of their efforts and resources on the health – and particularly the mental health – of employees.
Mental health issues have been a growing topic around the world for some time now, and never more so than in 2020 with people experiencing unprecedented levels of uncertainty at the same time as they find themselves cut off from friends and family. Inspired by World Mental Health Day, KAEFER people around the world did what they could to support colleagues both near and far.
In Australia, for example, where the pandemic was brought under control sufficiently quickly that social distancing was no longer necessary in most parts of the country by October, people still found time to lend their support to an RUOK? event run by the team in Malaysia.
Often, the first step towards treating mental health issues is finding the courage to talk about them. At RUOK? events, staff are encouraged to anonymously write down issues which are troubling them so that these can be discussed within an open and supportive group environment. An ongoing "RUOK?" campaign was also launched in Sweden in 2020.
Learn more about Mental Health
Australia successfully launched a SMART Choices behavioural programme for the APAC region which is designed to help employees consistently make the right decisions at work. Taking a broad view of SMART decision-making and encouraging regular review and reassessment, the campaign is based around five key pillars:
- SAFE Choices: making the best possible choices in the workplace to keep you and your workmates safe.
- PROUD Choices: recognising excellence and encouraging team members to take pride in their work.
- GREEN Choices: promoting environmental practices in our workplaces and ensuring our operations have a minimal adverse impact on the environment.
- HEALTHY Choices: promoting physical and mental fitness and being there for colleagues when they need support.
- EFFICIENT Choices: promoting smooth and efficient execution through world-class planning and continuous review.
A strong finish – staying SMART in the run up to Christmas
For the third year running, KAEFER in Australia ensured there was no let up on Health and Safety measures in the weeks before Christmas. Victor Bogos, Managing Director at KAEFER in Australia explains: “Our SMART Choices campaign keeps us collectively focussed on staying incident and injury free during a period which is notorious for safety incidents.” KAEFER in Australia was pleased to once again report zero recordable injuries or incidents throughout the December-January period.
The KAEFER Poster Campaign 2020
In 2020, KAEFER’s Health and Safety poster campaign focussed on raising awareness of the risks posed by drugs and alcohol. The campaign was designed to guard against complacency around an issue which employers and employees sometimes fail to take seriously enough. Three separate posters were produced, reflecting cultural differences in the various countries and regions where KAEFER operates.