Health and safety risks are lurking in most types of job, but they are especially prominent in the heavy-industry sector. For example, according to Safe Work Australia, there are more than 2,500 Australian workers who have died over the past decade due to workplace accidents. According to PaperMoney, there have been more than 80 accidents occurring at pulp and paper mills worldwide in 2022 so far, and the number, most regrettably, does not represent unreported accidents, injuries, and health problems.
Each year, pulp and paper workers are exposed to hazards and suffer numerous injuries. What kind of risks should factory workers carefully be aware of?
Major work safety and health risks in the pulp and paper sector include:
1. Equipment hazard
Workers in a paper mill work directly with various machines and equipment in the papermaking processes, in which each machine and equipment requires a specific procedure to handle. Furthermore, the risk of danger is getting higher during machine maintenance and repair. If workers fail to follow the procedures correctly while operating, disabling, or repairing machines, they are put at life-threatening risks, such as crushing or amputation.
2. Dust hazard
Paper mill workers are also exposed to paper dust that might cause eye injury and respiratory disorders. There is also combustible dust that might result in the destruction of property and great casualties. Such dust is released by paper processing equipment which could cause fires and explosions when accumulated.
3. Substances hazard
The making of paper requires numerous chemical substances that might pose danger to the worker's health. These chemicals include chlorine, sulfur compounds, sulfuric acid, and many other toxic and allergenic substances. Exposure to these substances might incur poisoning, increase cancer risks, respiratory damage, and external wounds.
4. Noise hazard
Noise exposure could reach high levels and damage the hearing of workers in the pulp and paper industry.
5. Human errors
Human factors could lead workers to compromise their own safety though it is not their intention to get hurt. Several factors such as fatigue, working on auto-pilot, or doing repetitive work for days could influence focus and overall performance, increasing the risk of getting into accidents. There is also a factor of taking shortcuts or rushing to get work done, resulting in careless equipment handling and leading to danger.
6. Unsafe building and workplace
Aside from machine-related accidents, workers are also exposed to the danger springing from the place they work at. There are cases where workers get injured from collapsing building structures and falling from heights. Unhealthy working culture, such as unregulated long-shifts and working without proper training or supervisions, could also lead to unwanted safety risks. Toxic environments, bullying, and violence in the workplace could lead to serious physical and mental damages.
Benefits of proper health and safety management
The welfare of workers in the pulp and paper industry should always be the most important consideration. By addressing the hazards and implementing proper health and safety management, paper companies would ensure the protection of workers from a wide range of threats and health problems as well as benefit from these results:
1. Improved employee satisfaction and performance
With clear occupational health and safety regulations, workers will have a better understanding of how to handle crucial activities, from responding to an issue, reporting an incident, to working through a problem.
Furthermore, the implementation of proper health and safety management shows that managers are genuinely concerned in workers’ health and safety. As a result, it could increase employee satisfaction, enhancing both staff relations and morale. In addition, with a set of clear health and safety practices at the workplace, employees will be more confident in doing their work. As a result, they will engage more, and their productivity will improve.
2. Reduced cost
Each time an accident occurs, there are expenses that need to be covered, such as staff compensation claims, the cost of hiring temporary staff to cover up the injured workers, and many other costs.
Companies that do not take health and safety management seriously will also suffer from low employee morale, which could lead to reduced productivity levels and resulting in lower revenues.
3. Improved business image
Serious accidents and injuries occurring at the workplace could harm a company’s public image, and when it is out there, the damage might be irreparable. As consumers and investors trust companies that are actively looking for their workers’ health and safety, it is likely that they would not engage with those that develop bad reputations in carrying it out.
Putting a health and safety management system in place could help in protecting both workers’ safety and the company’s public image.
4. Boost corporate regulatory compliance and social responsibility
Regulations are made to prevent any harm or damage occurring within and caused by a company, and one of the aims is to protect the welfare of employees. However, regulatory compliance is still lenient in many companies. Consequently, there are high chances for workers to commit offenses, whether due to human error or negligence, and companies might have to face legal penalties.
With a proper health and management system, all employees would be made aware of legal requirements, improving regulatory compliance and lowering the risk of having to pay a fine.
BMJ is keeping a safe and healthy workplace
As a paper company, BMJ is aware of hazardous risks that might occur every day. We value our employees as a family, thus we take the matter of taking care of them with forethought.
We take concrete steps in order to ensure our employees’ health and safety by establishing a safety culture, improving safety in the workplace and making safety a habit for each of our peers. We have developed a safety protocol to respond to incidents and issues swiftly as well as strategies to mitigate risks effectively. We also conduct regular safety audits, inspections, and training to improve employee performance in working with safety in mind.
Most importantly, we are compliant with the applicable law and regulations. Our commitment in creating a safe and healthy working space for workers has granted us ISO 45001:2018 certification and an approval from the Safety and Health Management System of Indonesia. Currently, we have reached a milestone of 7,522,467 safe work hours without accidents, and we plan to keep on maintaining it.
With a safe and healthy workplace, BMJ manages to improve productivity and continues to produce high-quality products that surely captivate the hearts of our dear customers.