Four decades for a safer working life
Jari Perämäki travels to different parts of Finland to train people who work at Caruna's electricity network sites but are not electricity professionals. These include excavators, cable installers, goods transporters and forestry workers.
“If we had a situation where the electrician questioned the safety of a task and refrained from it, the supervisor would do it himself and show how to take the risk. So, he would show how to do things wrong. Luckily, I didn't draw lessons from those instructions, as things could have ended badly.”
More than 1,000 professionals carry the Caruna Card
This is how Jari Perämäki, Training Director at PeiliPinta Consulting Oy, describes the attitude to safety of an experienced supervisor or electrician in the early stages of his career in the 1970s.
Following his father's footsteps, Perämäki has worked as an electrician, supervisor, developer, trainer and coach. He has been building and repairing the electricity network and its various parts from land cables to overhead cables and substations. A few decades ago, safety was often approached with a gut feeling: it was assumed that everything was in order, even though safe operation, especially in electrical work, must always be based on certainty.
“A typical situation was a tree that had fallen over an electric line, which was often removed using inadequate safety measures and without proper grounding. I've witnessed it myself and am naturally not proud of it. We took conscious risks, and the problem might also have been that we thought it was the right way to work. Thinking, believing and being pretty sure are not enough in electrical work. This would happen especially if repair work was being done in a hurry. I think that being in a hurry is one of the biggest electrical safety threats,” Perämäki says and continues:
“In safety, nothing is more important than attitude, and when I compare it to date, it has improved enormously, even with experienced workers. Also, young people are not afraid to speak up if they are concerned about the safety of a task, which is excellent.”
Caruna's safety training was conceptualised and piloted during 2017
In the course of four hours, lay persons learn the correct and safe ways of working with cables, because building an underground cable network is the work of an electricity professional. The training also covers hazardous work and related written advance plans and provides guidance to finding the risk factors of the site, enabling the people to act if an accident occurs.
A shared work site requires a designated person in charge, correct working methods, quality supervision, clear communication as well as good team spirit and a good working atmosphere. At the end of the training, participants receive their own Caruna Card. By the end of last year, Perämäki had already issued the Caruna Card to 1,122 people.
“There are certainly no risk-free sites, but the residual risk must be acceptable under the Finnish Occupational Safety Act. Humans are creatures who can act in silly ways even when they are aware of the risks. But the idea of common safety must be kept in mind at all times, so that everyone can return home in one piece after a day's work. In that sense, safety is a lifelong mission,” he says.