Specialized, Experiential Health & Safety Training Program in the Production Unit of Sofman S.A.

Sofman A.E.

Biosafety S.A., which has been active since 2001 in the field of Occupational Health & Safety, carried out a specialized training program about Health and Safety in the Workplace for the company SOFMAN S.A., which operates in the field of metal and mechanical constructions. 


The Biosafety Academy, as the company’s training department is called, offers a wide range of seminars in the fields of Health, Wellness & Safety with over 50 active programs. The training stood out among all the programs as it is governed by three main pillars – values of the company: 


  • the specialized nature of the training, which was designed entirely on the needs of the business and the specific risks from the business’s activity, 
  • in the active participation of the company itself in the development of the program, 
  • but mainly in the positive impact it had on safety and mainly in strengthening the safety culture of the company and its employees. 


Sofman is a successful construction company with 30 years of experience in the metal and engineering industry. The company placing great emphasis on safety activated a set of mechanisms in order to strengthen the culture in the specific sector. One of the main actions in this direction was the cooperation with the Ministry of Biosafety for the provision of a set of Health & Safety Services. 


Biosafety, a member of the Vision Zero initiative (https://visionzero.global/), has set as its commitment the strengthening of the safety culture in all cooperating companies with the goal-commitment of zero accidents at work. One of her main proposals to Sofman was to create a comprehensive training program based entirely on the needs of the business and the zero-accident culture. 


The trainings took place in July 2021 at the company’s two (2) facilities, in Elefsina and Corinth. They included 3 training cycles for factory staff as well as construction site staff. A total of 70 people participated in the program. 


The said training needs a special mention initially because of the amount of information collected in order to create a detailed and thorough training, which will analyze and inform about all the problems that the staff faces or may face during their work. In particular, the nature of the work of Sofman employees presents specific needs because they manage special mechanical equipment, plasma cutting machines, overhead cranes while performing high-risk processes such as electric welding, transport and load tying. For the completion of this project, the scientific team of Biosafety worked towards the creation of a specialized training on these particularities of the company. 


All these factors were taken into account with a set of actions before the training even started: 


  • Initially, an analysis of all the company’s accidents was carried out 


  • In collaboration with the company’s safety officer and the technical department of Biosafety, an autopsy was carried out on all the premises and production units with photography of points, machines and loads that were dangerous and potential causes of accidents. The photos were used in the training seminar in order to inform the employees as well as the managers of Sofman about the mistakes and tactics that constitute a red alert. 


  • At the same time, the Biosafety studies department carried out the preparation of an Occupational Risk Assessment Study (OHSS) based on modern specifications. This study included the detailed description of the workplaces, the employees and the equipment they should have according to their work. Afterwards, an analysis of electromechanical installations and finally a risk analysis of the work was done. In the work hazard analysis, a detailed description of the work machinery as well as the means of personal protection needed by the employee was made. 


  • Interviews were conducted with staff to find and record more directly the hazards faced by workers from their perspective as well as any equipment deficiencies. 


  • Finally, an online meeting was held with the technical management of Biosafety, the trainer and the administrative staff of Sofman to inform them and to finalize the thematic sections. 


The training was designed and prepared by certified trainers with the main purpose of having an experiential nature and practical application of the knowledge they received. The staff were divided into groups according to their main activity, into erectors and site workers. In this way, they were given the opportunity to be introduced specifically to the safety cultures and the personal protective equipment they need to have in every job they carry out. 


Initially, the program aimed to analyze real accidents as a method of developing the safety culture of employees. The steps followed by the worker and the way an accident can occur were analyzed in depth. At the same time, an extensive briefing was given on the risk assessment of all activities, based on the Risk Assessment Study, and the criticality panel was presented with the classifications per activity depending on the combination of probability and severity of each event. 


In addition, there was extensive training in the Emergency Response Plan (ERP). The ERP aims to prepare trainees for the immediate and timely response to any emergency that may arise in the workplace in the shortest possible time. Particular emphasis is placed on the actions to be taken in case of fire, earthquake, chemical leakage, bad weather conditions, but also risks related to safety such as electrical installations, project machinery, hoists, welding, oxygen cutting. 


At the same time, they were trained in the use of each of the company’s machines, the means of personal protection they must have and the risks inherent in each machine. 


Perhaps the greatest element in the value of the training was the consultation with the staff at the end of the program itself. A survey was carried out in which employees were given the opportunity to anonymously record their assessment of all the subject areas of the training as well as their additional needs across the range of health and safety services. Employees were even asked to anonymously record their thoughts on the question: “Tell me what you will change about doing your job starting tomorrow.” The feedback was extensive, the results were communicated to the management of the company and acted as a compass to create a long-term plan for further training. 


The said training program was a model for both companies, both for Biosafety for all the training that followed in the sector of factories and production units, and for Sofman itself, which immediately noticed a difference in the way the staff worked. The company even decided to make it part of her culture and repeat it every year. The training served as a precursor to the launch of a new strategic plan of actions to strengthen the Safety Culture of the staff, considering that safety in the workplace is a dynamic condition and requires vigilance to achieve continuous improvement. 


But the main benefit of education lies in the very value of protecting human life. It has been almost a year since the training period and no accident has occurred in the company, creating a strong feeling of safety for the employees.