Ensuring occupational safety is the foundation of and prerequisite for all Fortum’s activities. A milestone was recently reached in the operation and maintenance of our 11 hydropower plants in the Oulujoki river system when 10 years had passed without a lost workday injury.
“This is an excellent achievement in occupational safety. Let’s hope the next decade goes as well,” says Veli-Matti Tuomaala, Asset Manager of Fortum’s Oulujoki river system hydropower plants.
The accomplishment is the result of prioritising occupational safety in all activities.
“It’s all about attitudes. Occupational safety is taken seriously, and more time is spent in the work planning stage on identifying and assessing hazards. All work tasks and work phases are thought out with safety as the top priority,” Tuomaala notes.
The open and consistent collaboration between Fortum, the power plant operation and maintenance provider Caverion, and subcontractors also plays an important role in strengthening and developing safety.
“One big factor for the success is that we share the same culture of safety with Fortum. Safety is a priority for both Fortum and Caverion; our goal is for zero injuries,” says Jarmo Savolainen, Caverion’s occupational safety representative for the power plants in the Oulujoki river system.
“We have good guidance both from Fortum and Caverion. They provide guidance for safe activities, and the guidance is continuously developed – for instance, now in terms of the coronavirus pandemic,” notes Kimmo Pohjola, head of the Caverion unit responsible for the Oulujoki and Emäjoki regions.
Safety work is never completed
Hydropower production often involves challenging working conditions especially when working with turbines and generators or in conjunction with diving work. In the Oulujoki river system area, there has been significant employee collaboration in implementing and developing safe working methods – jointly and with good unity.
“The collaboration between the workers is really good. They make sure that their own work and the work of others is done safely. Everyone is involved in and encourages safe working, and they point out potential shortcomings and offer suggestions for improvement,” Savolainen says.
The milestone has not lulled them into thinking the safety work is in some way completed.
“We continue to make near-miss reports to highlight risk areas requiring corrective measures. The 35 employees in the area have so far submitted 280 near-miss reports this year,” Pohjola notes.
Hydropower’s future is built on safe working methods
Safe working conditions create the foundation for the continuous development of hydropower technology. Hydropower employs experts from multiple sectors – from electrical engineering to environmental experts. Digitalisation and leveraging data and information are current trends in the sector.
“Today expertise in automation and information technology is emphasised. An increasing amount of data about the operation of the plant and machinery is being collected at power plants. This data can be used to monitor the wear of parts, e.g., and to anticipate malfunctions,” Tuomaala describes.
Veli-Matti Tuomaala, Asset Manager, veli-matti [dot] tuomaala [at] fortum [dot] com, +358 40 356 5660