They prevent ill health and accidents
Lars Nyström has been working at Ragn-Sells for 20 years and he is one of three health and safety representatives at the Högbytorp plant just north of Stockholm. Out in Ragn-Sells’ places of work there is a total of 30 such representatives who work on, among other things, risk assessment, safety inspection rounds and – perhaps the most important of all – acting as a sounding board for colleagues.
– They are so incredibly important, and we have to make sure we create good conditions for the work they do, says Sofia Blomdal, who is the working environment manager at Ragn-Sells.
Lars Nyström is aware that he has the support of the company and he understands that his work supports his colleagues on multiple levels.
– Högbytorp might seem a hazardous environment, with lots of traffic and loads of heavy vehicles. Four times a year we conduct safety inspections and review all the various parts of the operation. The inspection rounds are well controlled, with checklists and protocols. On one of the inspection rounds, we take a look at all the vehicles and, among other things, check that the driver’s posture is right, and they have everything they need, says Lars.
The health and safety representatives are appointed by the company and approved by their trade union. At Ragn-Sells, they represent either the environmental workers or the office staff, and every representative has a geographical area of responsibility. All health and safety representatives from the entire country also visit each other’s branches and exchange experiences at the so-called health and safety committee meetings, which take place regularly.
– Not everyone necessarily feels comfortable bringing up something that might sound like a complaint with their boss. That’s where I step in and help to take the matter further internally, says Lars.
Sofia Blomdal stresses the importance of cooperation between bosses, health and safety representatives and all colleagues.
– Our colleagues need to see their health and safety representative as a sounding board and source of support. We see this working best at those places where there is good cooperation, says Sofia.
All new health and safety representatives have to complete a basic training course that deals with the job, but there are also more in-depth courses. One example is learning to interpret new construction drawings. At Ragn-Sells, the health and safety representatives are always involved in the purchase of new equipment or in construction projects.
At these training courses, health and safety representatives from different companies meet up and share knowledge and experience about how things work at other places of work.
– When I hear what things can be like at other companies, I understand how well things work at Ragn-Sells, the level of support we health and safety representatives get from the company – and that makes me really proud, says Lars.