Every accident is one too many – occupational safety evolves by anticipating and learning
In the prevailing exceptional situation, construction industry companies must consider which projects have the greatest impact on the society, in other words, which projects should progress regardless of the crisis. At YIT, one of the prioritised projects is the Jokeri Light Rail project. If the completion of Jokeri Light Rail was delayed, all parties would suffer significant financial losses. This project has a wider impact on the development and employment in the Helsinki metropolitan area, since many smaller-scale projects are linked to the establishment of the rail line connection in terms of their schedule.
YIT took action in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and ensuring the progress of the most important projects immediately when the measures to tackle the pandemic started in Finland.
“We cooperate with our customers to prepare ourselves for the changes caused by this situation and minimise the negative impacts on our projects. We immediately started ensuring our material deliveries and the continuation of the operations of our foreign subcontractors in Finland for as long as possible. We have also searched for other alternatives to materials and foreign labour in order to be able to continue our operations as normally as possible. We are prepared for different situations possibly created by the coronavirus. We have prioritised our operations and we are prepared to transfer employees from offices and other projects to sites where more helping hands are needed,” says Antti Korhonen, leader of Rail and road construction at YIT.
This situation was immediately taken seriously also in the Jokeri Light Rail alliance. YIT’s Project Manager Ari Bergström in charge of the project production says:
“When it became clear that this situation requires actions in Finland, we prepared instructions on the required actions for all the sites. Luckily, the background organisations of different parties have a broad range of capabilities to guide operations also in exceptional circumstances. Right from the start, our guiding principle was that the sites of the Jokeri Light Rail will be kept running regardless of the crisis.”
Effective prevention of the spread of the virus, as well as orientating substitutes well in advance and isolating key employees in different workspaces, were deemed critical points in ensuring the continuation of the production.
“Our organisation is divided into six different segments, each having their own supervision. Therefore, we were able to deliver the message to teams and implement the operating model quickly. Those who can work remotely are naturally working from home. Supervising employees were also isolated from each other: they work in different office premises and do not meet with each other or visit other premises.”
In the Jokeri Light Rail project, which is well spread out geographically (25 kilometres), it has been naturally easier to implement coronavirus prevention actions than, for example, in a building construction site located on one plot.
“Many of us work far away from each other in any case. For example, work machine drivers have their lunch inside the machine and avoid visiting the dressing rooms and washrooms during the working day. We have also arranged breaks so that only a couple of employees are on a break at the same time. Soap and hand sanitisers are used frequently. And, naturally, an employee with even the mildest flu symptoms is not allowed to come to work,” says Section Manager Ari Saukkonen from the Oulunkylä site.
Some meetings must be arranged on the sites, but remote participation is preferred, if possible.
“Some supervising employees are present at the meetings, but we sit as far away from each other as possible and follow all the instructions, for example, related to hand hygiene.”
Modern, digital tools also help construction sites in this situation.
“We are using tools with which we can, for example, make observations, provide work instructions and appoint responsible persons as well as supervise and approve work digitally, if necessary. Self-management and mutual trust are naturally emphasised during this situation, but the Jokeri Light Rail work has already been ongoing for a while and we have been welded together as a functional team. We have every chance of coming out of this crisis without any major problems,” says Ari Bergström.