Heroes at work


“Steel production involves high temperatures and the handling of quicklime. At Ovako, we always put safety first, and preventative work is extremely important.”

Ovako – With the focus on safety

Sweden has a long tradition of steel production. At Ovako in Smedjebacken, 500,000 tonnes of scrap metal are recycled and processed every year. A process that places high demands on safety. Joakim Zoohar works here as the fire and safety officer.

Steel production in Smedjebacken began as long ago as 1856, and today approximately 350 people work here at Ovako. The large facility operates around the clock, and it is a fascinating environment with the heat from the smelting furnace in the steel works and giant rolling mills. But it is also a work environment where safety has the highest priority.

“Steel production involves high temperatures and the handling of quicklime. At Ovako, we always put safety first, and preventative work is extremely important. We recently had an incident where an employee was working on a machine that handles slag products. When she got out of the machine, she grabbed a boiling hot handrail. Thanks to the immediate proximity to the First Aid station and Burn Gel, she was able to treat the burn herself and avoid hospital care”, says Joakim Zoohar.

On call 24/7

Joakim started as a firefighter in the rescue service as early as 1984, and still works extra as a part-time firefighter in the municipality of Smedjebacken. At Ovako, Joakim is part of a team of four firefighters who take turns being on call 24/7. In addition to being constantly prepared for alarms, the daily work includes maintaining and replenishing the First Aid stations and other safety equipment as well as continuously training the staff in First Aid. Ovako has a zero vision for accidents, and by integrating safety issues into the daily work, accidents with absenteeism reduced by over 90% in recent years, which is Europe’s leader in terms of safety.

“Safety often lies in the details. Our eyewashes are, for example, phosphate free, as the lime that we use in the steel industry when in contact with phosphate can cause lasting damage to the eye. Here at Ovako, we have 15 defibrillators and around 80 First Aid and eyewash stations deployed to ensure that there is always help close by when an accident occurs. Working with First Aid becomes a way of life. I can’t think of a more important job”, Joakim Zoohar concludes.

Cederroth recommends

When an accident happens, it is important to take rapid action and use the right products. Always make sure your workplace is equipped with health and safety equipment, appropriate for your business.

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