I am an environmental and energy engineering student, majoring in Safety Engineering and Environmental Management. I am working as a summer trainee in Health, Safety, and the Environment (HSE), focusing on the "E", the environment. I am a member of the local Operations Development Team at Metso Minerals in Tampere, Finland.
Hands-on with HSE
Our office is located in a factory building. Even though we are office workers, each and every one of us must visit at least one part of the factory area every week. Everyone writes their chosen location on a common whiteboard on Monday, and during the week we discuss our findings in the daily meetings. This way we get to know the people around us and better understand how the value of our operations is born on a daily basis. Each meeting starts – of course – with a short safety discussion.
My daily tasks and tools vary a lot. Recently, I cooperated with our site service and maintenance department for several weeks. We updated the local evacuation and rescue plan. Both my safety engineering knowledge and photography hobby came in handy, but half of the whole project was all about getting to know the site. For example, we need to know exactly where each main shut valve for the gases is located. If something were to happen, there would be no time to start looking for the right valves. Therefore, we want to have clear safety instructions for each gas (and oil type etc.) with maps and photos to guide anyone who might have to act in an emergency situation.
An important part of working in HSE is asking the right questions. Not just to find out the answer, but also to focus attention on the issue and make people think in new ways. Then I gather the information, create documents and make requests. As a newcomer I have already both accidentally and on purpose questioned some details that actually needed more attention.
There are a couple of special advantages in being a young newcomer in HSE work, provided that you studied something HSE-related during your university years. Firstly, your knowledge of HSE legislation is certainly up-to-date. Secondly, you have only just read the newest scientific articles and books about what you are now working on – whereas some of your otherwise experienced colleagues got their degrees when the whole concept of "environmental management" didn't even exist! How amazing is that? YOU can be the visionary!
Last but not least, the underground canal. The underground office, I would like to say. That is where our water and IT cables work. We spent almost three hours getting to know how this site actually works and performing some minor maintenance actions, like testing the valves and releasing some pressure.
I have now got more hands-on with HSE than ever before, and next I want to learn more about the environmental aspects of our factory and working here. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to teach me how things work. I can't wait to see what's next.