Background factors of the safety innovations

Senior Inspector, Head of the unit
Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland

Keijo Päivärinta is a Chief Inspector and the Head of the Unit at the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland at the Division of Occupational Health and Safety. He started as an inspector of OHS in 1980. His main task has been in surveillance of construction sector. He is also a Chair of coordination group of construction sector in Ministry of social affairs and health in Finland. From the end of 1980`s, he has been developing many kind of new surveillance and enforcement methods in OHS. Most important of them have been published. He has taken part of the work of the European Commission Senior Labour Inspectors Committee`s work by evaluating membership country and being as a lecturer. 

We can consider an accident at work like an inverse problem, where the result is known, but we don’t know the causes, which led to the accident. At least as important is to find out the causes and development points, which are background of the good practices and the permanent changes of the courses of action. I have got two case examples in my presentation to explain the causes, which led to better course of action. 

In both cases the motivation was the crucial point for the safety improvements and the new approach. In the background is the utilization of the data of the working conditions and well-argued demonstration of the shortcomings of the current course of action. This leads to investments, which may be technical-economical or development investments for changing practices. An individual company can get support from other companies of the industry as well as the active role of the social partners may help it. 

In the first case I explain the background factors of the rather simply technical innovation.  International enterprises have required a high level of the safety at work, the companies have participated in the annual safety competition, where the safety level has been measured by the standardized observation method, the directors have signed a promise to the employers’ organization to improve safety. At the same time safety authorities has put an improvement notices to the companies in order to fix the protection against fall in those mills. 

In another case, the construction company integrates the safety measures for the management practices and creates a whole new approach to the building design. It has influences to the safety legislation in Finland. The safety regulation requires, that structural engineers include safety solution to the structural plans. At the background there are collected data about safety observations, fines issued by the authorities and cooperation between construction companies, engineering offices and OHS authority.