A grappler carrying roundwood through the Mercer Timber Products log yard, near Friesau, Germany at sunset.

Life-saving Golden Rule: I do not perform work in an obviously unsafe manner and immediately inform my supervisor

Mercer Life-saving Golden Rule No 4: I do not perform work in an obviously unsafe manner and immediately inform my supervisor.

We believe that all accidents are preventable. Still – they happen, both in the home and at work. They are often triggered by stress, a lack of concentration, and/or a misinterpretation of danger.

If someone routinely works along the edge of a roof without any personal protective equipment (PPE) and nothing has happened in the past, that doesn’t mean that the work is safe to do just because nothing has happened – that is just luck. Luck builds a misinterpretation of danger and these misinterpreted situations are common in our daily life.

At Mercer Timber Products, we have implemented different mechanisms to deepen the awareness and importance of the personal safety of all our colleagues. On a regular basis, we hold training sessions and provide instructions. For instance, we use area and task risk assessments routinely, as well as corresponding safety instructions that we periodically revisit. 

When a task is required and it is not considered routine, we conduct a last-minute risk assessment (LMRA). Our employees must remember these important aspects of an LMRA:

  • The LMRA needs to be done at your workplace right before you start working.
  • The LMRA has to be done by specialists performing the task by themselves.
  • You are to use the provided checklists.
  • If the result of the LMRA shows the work can’t be done safely, you are not allowed to start until all risks have been mitigated.

Assisting Our People

At Mercer Timber Products, we aim to avoid situations where people rush into a task without thinking about safety first. Our motto is: stop, think, act! You should never work if you are in a hurry – it is incredibly important to think and reflect before you act.

To assist our colleagues in the last-minute risk assessment process, every MTP employee is required to carry an LMRA printed form at all times. The intent of these forms is to ensure that if an employee comes across an unusual situation, the employee will use the checklist to analyze the situation before starting work. If the resulting checklist is positive and shows that the work is safe, employees are allowed to go ahead and conduct their tasks; however, if there are risks identified, the work cannot be performed safely. When this happens, the employee must inform their supervisor.

Talking About Safety: A Key Tool for Employee Safety

Our employees are essential in our pursuit of zero onsite incidents. One format we find very effective is toolbox talks. Toolbox talks are held by all departments once a week to discuss all kinds of safety topics, with all talks documented for review. Along with the toolbox talks, all managers and supervisors complete a safety walk once a month and report on the results in their departments. It is important to take the time, be aware, and concentrate on safety topics with all employees. Additionally, once a month, all supervisors should shadow one of their employees to check and document their role’s tasks regarding and safety.

Near-Miss Reporting: The Importance of Information

Near-miss reports are another implemented mechanism to help avoid accidents. A near miss is just like it sounds: something could have occurred and it came close, but an incident or impact did not actually occur. For instance, a near-miss would be reported if there was no property damaged or no personal injury sustained, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury easily could have occurred. These ‘close calls’ are often an error that could have escalated but an incident was prevented by other considerations and circumstances.

If our employees observe such a situation or if this happens to them, they’re asked to report any and all near-misses using the provided forms (by either paper, mobile, or online). All near-miss reports are analyzed and we implement measures to eliminate the situation repeating itself.

Almost all incidents or accidents happen due to human error or behaviours. Therefore, our most important goal is to instill in all of our employees to think before they act. By getting employees into this thought pattern, we hope for them to avoid potential danger at home as well as at work.