Mercer Timber Products – A New Way of Communication in the Friesau Sawmill

The safety of our employees is a top priority at Mercer Timber Products in Friesau. The 9 Life-saving Golden Rules (LSGR) describe simple measures that employees can take to protect themselves and others from the risks. Failure to comply with these rules entails a high risk of serious injury or fatal accidents.

These golden rules for occupational safety apply to all employees throughout Mercer. We work together to ensure we all adhere to the rules and that no one tolerates a violation:

  1. I report to work fit for duty and free from impairment from drugs, alcohol, or fatigue
  2. I never instruct another employee to do work in an unsafe manner.
  3. I never endanger the safety and health of others.
  4. I refuse obviously unsafe work and discuss it immediately with my supervisor.
  5. I only conduct work that I am authorized, trained, and qualified to do, following safe work instructions.
  6. I never knowingly disable a safety device without authorization.
  7. I never willfully work without mandatory personal protective equipment or permit, when required.
  8. I report all accidents and incidents immediately.
  9. I only smoke in designated areas.

New employees are instructed on these rules on the first day of work. We also find them in the information folders, on clipboards and notepads or on large posters in the mill. Last year, the Local Safety Leadership Committee (SLC) in the Friesau sawmill had the great idea to communicate these rules through graffiti art in the 40-meter-long pedestrian tunnel, turning a dreary gray commute into a brighter one of learning. 

The 9 safety rules are told in a comic-style story. The figure “Baumi” (translating to “little tree”) was invented to bring individual stories of the LSGR to life and convey the messages more easily. The graffiti art is a continuous story that shows Baumi going to work, following all of the safety rules, and thus arriving home safe and healthy. Various concepts were developed in advance with a professional team of local artists and then implemented after approval by the SLC.

Of course, you’ll find Mercer’s Road to Zero yellow and black colors in the pictures — like in the vehicles, safety switches or PPE — similar to how they are used in the sawmill. This brings higher recognition amongst employees who can easily identify the items in their work areas. Every pedestrian, whether a Mercer employee or from a partner company, is attuned to safe work behavior by these pictures before the work day even starts.

The cultural change in occupational safety and thus progress on the Bradley curve begins in our minds. If we see safety and health as an integral part of our day-to-day business and incorporate it into our decisions, we will make great strides towards Mercer’s goal of zero accidents and set new standards in the German sawmill industry.

We are convinced that all injuries and work-related illnesses are preventable. We want to work together safely and will return to our families in good health.

-Pierre Pieplow, MTP’s Head of Occupational Safety