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Billerudkorsnäs Gävle’s IIF Safety Journey Featured in Swedish Publication ‘Papper och Massa’ main image

Billerudkorsnäs Gävle’s IIF Safety Journey Featured in Swedish Publication ‘Papper och Massa’

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  • Industry: manufacturing
  • JMJ Service: IIF Safety

In a recent Swedish trade magazine called ‘Papper och Massa’ (Pulp and Paper), JMJ client Billerudkorsnäs, a pulp and paper manufacturer based in Sweden describes its Journey with building a safety culture with its 900 employees and 1,200 contractors.

Since January 2016, Billerudkorsnäs Gävle has been working to strengthen its relationship with its contractors. Contractors are seen as partners in creating its safety culture along with its employees, which has developed clarity around roles and expectations. Billerudkorsnäs Gävle employees and contractors are speaking up, making suggestions and looking out for each either and demonstrating a culture of care. The relationship to reporting for both contractors and employees is positive, enabling Billerudkornäs Gävle to address the issues in a timely manner.  Billerudkorsnäs Gävle is continuing its journey to build capabilities within the plant to own and lead their commitment to safety.













Client: Billerudkorsnas

Industry: Manufacturing - Paper

No. of Employees: 900 (approx. 730 within production) and 1,200 contractors during the annual shutdown

Production Capacity: 700ktonnes/year

Location: Gävle, Sweden

JMJ Capability: Creating a culture shift with the Incident and Injury-Free (IIF) Safety Approach throughout the production plant and its Contractor community


IIF – A Culture of Safety at the Sharp End of the Pulp and Paper Industry

Published by Paper och Masse, Titled ‘TSF – en säkerhetskultur i industrins framkant’ and written by Simon Matthis.  

One of the largest mills in Sweden, the BillerudKorsnäs pulp and paperboard production unit in Gävle, is in the process of introducing a safety approach called Incident and Injury-Free™ (IIF™) and so far they are the only people in the pulp and paper industry to do so. An important aspect of the IIF safety approach, which is also used by companies such as the construction group Skanska, is that external contractors participate on an equal footing with the mill’s employees in the safety work.

In many industries, people talk at great length about how much energy they spend on creating a safe working environment by encouraging employees to diligently report hazards and incidents and by setting stringent requirements for everyone to follow strict safety procedures. They swear that safety considerations take precedence over everything else, which also includes the external contractors who just have to accept the situation. But it is rare for contractors to be actively involved in defining the working environment itself. It is usually a case of one-way communication where the client is the one setting the requirements.

Contractor Meetings

“We put a great deal of emphasis on not distinguishing between contractors and our own staff,” says Johan Jansson, health and safety manager at the Gävle mill, who’s been involved in introducing IIF.

“Now we work with the contractors a lot more, and we’ve also got a lot to learn from them! They can give us feedback on how things work at other sites with other rules,” says Johan Jansson. Before the annual shutdown, he and the Gävle mill’s general manager Magnus Kangas, together with the technology department manager Henning Ekström, held meetings with the contractors’ where the requirements and expectations they were facing were reviewed.

1,200 Contractors

Safety work during the maintenance shutdown is particularly important because this is a time when lots of different contractors are active at the same time. During the Gävle mill’s annual shutdown at the end of September, on average there were 1,200 contractors a day on site, in addition to the mill’s usual staff of around 500 people.

“When we bring in so many contractors it’s easy for things to get confused so that’s why we put extra focus on safety work.”

Mandatory Workshops

This autumn, the Gävle mill will start running mandatory workshops within the framework of the IIF safety approach. They are aimed at both the company’s employees (730 employees are affected) and around 300 contractors. A total of 48 workshops are planned before March 2017.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” says Johan Jansson, who does not want to reveal how much it costs.

“But it’s worth every penny,” he stresses.

Orientation Leaders

Specially trained orientation leaders from within the organisation will lead the workshops, which Johan Jansson did not want to refer to as training sessions. The orientation leaders come from all levels within the mill, a mixture of men and women who have worked there for different periods of time. Two contractors have also qualified as orientation leaders.

“After the evaluation of the first workshop that we held before the summer, we could see that everyone was very positive about having the contractors as both orientation leaders and participants,” says Johan.

Attitudes and Behaviours

The IIF safety approach definitely puts the spotlight on the safety culture challenges, as well as attitudes and behaviours.

“We are really focusing on understanding the consequences of an accident, should one occur. If I take a safety risk and injure myself, I won’t be the only person who is affected; there are many other people to consider too – family, friends and colleagues. It’s easy to forget that. It’s important to draw attention and act as soon as you see at-risk behaviours; often this is more important than writing up an incident report,” says Johan.

“The whole point of the approach is to get people speaking out when they see a safety issue and being receptive if others notice safety issues and give them feedback for improvement. If you see someone standing on a wobbly ladder or walk inside an area that’s been cordoned off, you should take this up directly with the person concerned,” he explains.

Couldn’t this lead to conflict?

“That’s why it’s important to express yourself in the right way. Instead of shouting: “Put on your safety helmet!”, you can go up to them and say: “I see you’re not wearing a helmet. There’s a risk of things falling on you at these premises.” And rounding off with: “Can you see what I see?” to avoid conflicts.

The Importance of Reporting

Having said that, Johan Jansson still emphasises the importance of reporting non-conformities as incidents and risk observations.

“We view reporting in a more positive way than not reporting,” he says as someone who believes that many contractors would otherwise not have the courage to report something because they’re concerned that doing so will mean them not being hired for new assignments.

“But we’re not trying to allocate blame,” stresses Johan, who is happy that the number of reports from external contractors has increased during this year’s maintenance shutdown compared to the figure from last year. In his opinion, this is acknowledgement that BillerudKorsnäs’ positive attitude to reports has sunk in.

Among the Gävle mill’s employees, the number of reports due to accidents has halved during this year’s shutdown compared to 2015 – 8 where it was 16.

Targeted Inspection Rounds

During the major maintenance shutdowns, the mill has patrolling safety officers whose only task is to perform inspection rounds and provide support for safety issues, give feedback on safety improvements and write non-conformity reports.

“We also carry out targeted inspection rounds every day during the maintenance shutdown.

The participants in these inspection rounds are the work site’s principal safety officer, two working environment engineers and the factory’s industrial fire brigade, who generally aim to prevent damage and loss. There is an agreement in place with the Municipality of Gävle which means that the industrial fire brigade also responds to major fires in the municipality.

Familiarisation Visit in Salt Lake City

The IIF safety approach has been developed by a global company called JMJ Associates and is used by many companies such as construction giant Skanska. Johan Jansson and the Gävle mill’s general manager Magnus Kangas went on a familiarisation visit to an oil refinery in Salt Lake City in the USA, where the approach has been used for several years. They were enormously impressed by what they saw:

“It seems as though all the employees there put safety at the very top of their agenda. People look after each other differently than they do here,” says Johan Jansson.

BillerudKorsnäs Gävle

BillerudKorsnäs Gävle is an integrated pulp and paperboard mill with two board machines (PM4 & PM5), three continuous digesters (KK1, KK2 & KK3) and two soda recovery boilers (SP4 & SP5).

Production capacity: 700,000 tonnes/year
Number of employees: 900, with 730 of these involved in production.
Products: liquid packaging board and WTL (White Top Kraftliner)

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