Focus on safety has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of industrial accidents

6. January 2015

Sharp focus on occupational health and safety (OHS) has reduced the number of industrial accidents in MT Højgaard in 2014 to less than half the national average in the construction industry.

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MT Højgaard's employees now reap the fruits of targeted measures to combat industrial accidents. There has been a fall in the number of accidents from about 27 per million working hours in 2013 to 8 in 2014. 

The national average is about 22 industrial accidents per million working hours. An accident counts in the statistics when the employee is absent from work as a result of the accident, and MT Højgaard's statistics cover a total of ten accidents in 2014.

Two working environment weeks each year

In 2014 MT Højgaard has made active efforts to reduce the number of accidents, e.g. by holding two working environment weeks. During these weeks, we put extra focus on the working environment on all construction sites, we went additional weekly safety rounds, and all employees saw films produced especially for the occasion about the physical and psychological consequences of an industrial accident.

- We are happy about the figures and proud of the result of our efforts. But we will step up our efforts to reduce the number even further. Consequently, we have now started up a very systematic collection of data on near-miss incidents and observations where workers from all our construction sites record incidents which could potentially lead to an accident. The more we know about what causes potentially dangerous situations on all our construction sites, the better we can prevent the incidents from happening and apply knowledge from one construction site to another, says QHSE Director Vinnie Sunke Heimann, who is responsible for the quality, health, safety and environment in MT Højgaard.

Our efforts have also resulted in the Danish Working Environment Authority finding far fewer errors on MT Højgaard's construction sites today. The number of immediate enforcement notices has fallen from 22 in 2013 to 8 in 2014.

Model project with zero accidents

A model example of a building project with no accidents is MT Højgaard's erection of stage S3 for the new University Hospital, DNU, in Aarhus. At two other DNU plots, MT Højgaard has as at 5 January not recorded any accidents for 357 days and 313 days respectively. 

The great statistics on MT Højgaard's three building projects at DNU have contributed to the Central Denmark Region achieving its objective of halving the number of industrial accidents on the entire construction site compared to the national average. The client's QHSE Manager, Katrine Schimmelmann, praises MT Højgaard's efforts on the area. 

- Stage S3 is a rarely seen impressive building plot where the contractor shows that they also take safety seriously and where they remedy all matters without delay if problems are brewing. And when we have a contractor who is that professional, then it will also be easier for us to achieve our safety and working environment objectives, says Katrine Schimmelmann.

Preparations improve safety

The Central Denmark Region has made great efforts to achieve the safety objective. Katrine Schimmelmann says that Rådgivergruppen DNU I/S which supervises the working environment and safety on a daily basis prevented industrial accidents already in the design phase by ridding the project of all known risks. Three OHS managers are employed on each building plot and one on each contract. Moreover, each single one of the about 10,000 workers who are to work on the 100 hectare large construction site over the years will receive a two-hour safety training course before they begin.

Appreciative control

At MT Højgaard, Project Manager Claus Ottow Jensen and OHS Managers Christina Lund Lauritsen and Lone Nejlund are responsible for a high safety standard at DNU. The two OHS managers visit the construction site on a daily basis and praise those who do things right and point out what doesn't work.
Our occupational health and safety work is carried out as part of a research project at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Herning. At the Institute, researcher and psychologist Lars Peter Andersen calls MT Højgaard's participation in the project visionary.

- Usually, one seeks to find errors on a construction site, but it can be demotivating to focus only on the errors. Therefore, it is also important to acknowledge all the things that the workers do well and right. And we can see that it has a positive effect, says Lars Peter Andersen from the Institute of Occupational Medicine.

Even more working environment in 2015

The success with the measures to combat industrial accidents in MT Højgaard will, according to Vinnie Sunke Heimann, be followed up with new working environment weeks in 2015.
- Our special efforts on the QHSE area have come to stay. When we become even better at preventing accidents, job satisfaction and the quality and productivity of our work will increase, says QHSE Director of MT Højgaard.

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