HSE explains how health and safety come first.
Everyday HARTMANN works to live up to its commitment to help, care and protect – for our customers, our products, but also our workforce. HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) division supports that we all enjoy safety and well-being at the workplace. We spoke to Michael Mak, Senior Manager HSE, to gain insights into the multifaceted, day-to-day work of HSE. In this first of two articles, we focus on safety and what it means for every employee.
HSE – covering the whole spectrum
When the topic of occupational safety arises, employees may think it only applies to those working with heavy machinery or hazardous substances. Nothing could be further from the truth. Michael explains, “Depending on the area or department, safety at the workplace covers everything from machine safety and proper handling of biological materials to noise levels and fire hazards, as well as office ergonomics and handrail placement.”
HSE is involved in every aspect. The global HSE colleagues oversee the process behind attaining the required certifications and norms. It ensures the measures laid out by these standards are implemented and carried out. Furthermore, it helps to take care of the occupational risk assessments, inspections and documentation that need to occur on a regular basis. Finally, and most importantly, the division supports managers, teams and departments by advising on safety issues, and, in particular, establishing safety protocols, as well as completing regular risk assessment reports.
It sounds like a very bureaucratic undertaking, but Michael finds that his work always comes back to the people. He sums it up, “safety means we ensure that however you arrive at work, that’s how you leave – with everything intact and nothing missing! That’s our goal every day.”
Standing up for safety
While HSE has a hand in all aspects of our work lives, ensuring safety at work is only possible when everyone contributes. “We should all think about it – not just in special situations – but always have a little safety in the back of our mind,” Michael says. Often, the focus on health and safety zeros in on the legal standards, rather than on personal responsibility. Michael adds, “people may think that the laws need to be sharpened to improve occupational safety, but what really needs to be sharpened is the awareness of safety personally.”
Standards are constantly evolving, and new machinery or products are introduced that need to be evaluated in terms of existing norms. The HSE department remains on top of what changes are relevant and keeps departments in Heidenheim informed in the quarterly meetings of how changes may affect existing protocols and risk assessment reports. Department heads then must keep their team regularly updated. Once informed, it is then up to employees to follow the measures put in place.
The topic of safety may feel like a daunting task, such as the completion of risk assessment reports by departments. However, Michael emphasizes that one doesn’t have to be an HSE expert. He explains, “every day we make our own assessments. Like being sick and thus avoiding close contact with other persons, or not getting in the car because of being too tired to drive. We’re more experienced in recognizing danger than we give ourselves credit for – we are just not yet used to writing this down.”
Assessing risk in a department should be teamwork. “Talk to your colleagues and team,” Michael says, “and listen to what happens exactly day to day to understand together, where the potential dangers lie and create an assessment from there.” HSE is always on hand to offer refresher workshops, training and updates on the topic of occupational safety.
Safety by and for everyone
Michael also likes to point out how many people contribute their time, “we work with trained occupational health and safety assistants, fire safety engineers, first-aiders and paramedics in all areas. They are a hugely important part of our team.” They help with everything from executing evacuation drills to specializing in emergency responses in the event of an accident to overseeing safety at loading docks. “So, that everybody comes home safely.”
If you would like to learn more about the role you can play in ensuring occupational safety either as a department manager, potential safety officer or employee, get in touch with your HSE responsible.