DS Smith Plastics' Karlovac receives Health and Safety Award by the Croatian Ministry of Labor

The DS Smith Plastics, Injection Moulded Products' Health and Safety Manager and manufacturing site in Karlovac, Croatia receive a Health and Safety Award issued by the Croatian Ministry of Labor. The following are remarks made by Sinisa Kotur ―Health and Safety Manager for the Croatian site― from an internal interview that we conducted to gain a better understanding of what was involved in gaining such an impressive award and his plans to go above and beyond in the future.

 1. Can you tell us more about the Award? 

"The Ministry of Labor and Pension Systems in Croatia grants this recognition to promote safety in the workplace. Awards are granted to those companies that have shown significant achievements and enhancements in occupational safety. By promoting occupational safety in the workplace, the Croatian Ministry of Labor intends to reduce the number and intensity of work injuries, occupational diseases and other work related illnesses.“

  2. How did you and our DS Smith site become nominated to be part of this program?

"Representatives of the Institute for Improving Occupational Safety visit different companies in Croatia to assess company health & safety policies and plant performance. As part of their program, the group visited our Karlovac plant last year to conduct an assessment on health and safety policies and working conditions in our workplace. The group was really impressed by our efforts and achievements in occupational health and safety.

 Shortly after, Karlovac's Plant Manager, Mario Tomljanović, received an email with an invitation to nominate a person in charge of occupational safety at our plant. To be nominated, the person must meet certain criteria such as: realization of achivements that have improved safety at work; stated creativity, workmanship, dedication and persistance in realization of improvements; and at least 10 years of being operationally active in occupational safety.“

3. What were the most important changes and achievements that have recently taken place at the site?

"The main improvements on the site were:

  • ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001 Certificates
  • Acquisition of new Toyota forklifts with speed limiters and software to monitor incidents
  • Installation of Lockout / Tagout systems on moulding machines
  • Added protection around the grinder to reduce the level of noise
  • Air conditioning system to improve working conditions during the summer period
  • SOS Alarm in case of emergency for workers who work alone and without supervision
  • Whole body protection on moulding machines (to prevent workers from entering the dangerous area of the machine)
  • Ergonomic chairs for workers in the printing area
  • Anti-fatigue rubber mats for comfortable standing while deflashing crates“

 4. What did you personally do to engage everybody?

"To me, the most important thing is to speak directly to the employees, listen to their ideas and proposals ―and as part of the conversation― point them to the importance of safety at work. I believe that without their cooperation and team work, it could have been difficult to reach the desired results. The realisation that their opinions were heard and taken into consideration made it much easier to achieve these results.“

 5. Did you do this alone or was there a team to support you?

"All my colleagues were very supportive and cooperative. I’m also very grateful to work for a company like DS Smith that invests in its employees and cares about their safety and well-being.”

6. What did you learn?

“I have learned the importance of team work.”

 7. What is next? Focus on what area?

“Going forward, we will continue to seek new ideas for improvement and solutions for making our workplace as pleasant as possible. The next step is to increase cooperation with other DS Smith locations and to share best practices using DS Smith internal communication networks such as Yammer, and DS Smith Intranet, Plexus.

 We are also considering teaming up with the Polytechnic University at Karlovac and have students attending their health and safety courses to come visit our site, share their ideas, get familiar with our health & safety organization and have them promote DS Smith as a desirable employer and place to work.”

 All in all, because Sinisa Kotur met all of the requirements for health and safety and the Karlovac plant was in great condition, this was a clear choice for the Health and Safety Award.