Keeping Wärtsilä safe and sustainable
Better safe than sorry. That is the mantra that has driven Ville Sulonen over the last eight years as he builds Wärtsilä’s growing commitment toward safety and environment conservation. Here’s how his efforts have helped the organisation succeed in this sphere.
41-year-old Ville Sulonen is the Environment, Health and Safety Development Manager at Wärtsilä. He joined the company in Finland in 2011, at a time when the voices of concern for environment and workplace safety were getting louder. Acknowledging this, Ville has worked tirelessly to progressively improve the organisation’s corporate safety culture through global campaigns, training and tools.
“It’s been an inspiring journey, especially because I got a chance to meet some great people around the globe,” says Ville, whose workdays are filled with new challenges and support cases from the Wärtsilä’s vast network across the globe.
And this is also the part he enjoys the most about his job. “I love working in a multi-cultural environment, and meeting thorough professionals, who work with me for the common goal of safety.”
While Ville prides himself in consistently bringing a huge number of Wärtsilians together to improve safety performance, it was a major breakthrough back in 2014 that he considers his greatest contribution.
Emphasising safety globally
“Five years ago we implemented WeCare – a comprehensive programme for accident, near miss and hazard reporting,” he says. The objective of the WeCare reporting tool is to engage employees and encourage them to act, report and care.
This was part of Wärtsilä’s ambitious goal of achieving zero workplace injuries. WeCare galvanised the approach to communicating safety, not just in terms of learning about incidents that happen onsite but also the actual act of proactively reporting near misses and hazards through new software accessible by every employee.
The year after that, Wärtsilä observed the first ever global Safety Day, which has since become an annual practice. Wärtsilä’s fourth Global Safety Day took place on 15th March in 2018 and was dedicated to observing traffic safety and helping employees make safe choices when travelling.
This was done by showing them videos of actual road accidents that happened during Wärtsilä’s operations in Oman and Senegal. Employees were then encouraged to make the correct choices via an interactive video and also take an online quiz on road safety. Ville has been the guiding force behind such global initiatives.
“I think I have learned by experience to listen to people and to create a big picture based on that. That has helped to make global plans,” he says. “The biggest challenge, of course, has always been in getting people to work together towards one mission.”
Raising employee awareness
However, in the eight years that Ville has been a part of Wärtsilä, he has witnessed a gradual evolution in the way Wärtsilians are approaching safety in day-to-day operations.
“When I joined Wärtsilä, there was a kind of fire-fighting culture where the objective was to get work done no matter what it takes,” he explains. “While that is good, today, there is also an awareness that this must be done with due consideration to workplace safety, and also sustainability.”
Going ahead, Ville believes innovation, especially with digitisation, is what will drive Wärtsilä forward as it establishes new safety and sustainability benchmarks through its portfolio of products and services. Automated processes, 3D modelling technology, and real-time monitoring are, he feels, just a few examples of this.
“However, even if we have all technology in place, we cannot forget our people who create it and use it. Finally, what gives us the best safety results is that we all share the same safety mindset of taking care of our colleagues,” he says.
Ville is also excited to be a part of Wärtsilä’s global mission to protect the world’s seas and fight against climate change. With initiatives like reducing ship emissions, developing environmental products, remote monitoring and fleet management, he feels that Wärtsilä is truly living its purpose on a daily basis.
“With new solutions and services, I see myself walking the journey of environment conservation with Wärtsilä whilst developing my own personal skills,” he explains.
That’s a journey that visionaries like Ville will lead as they help steer Wärtsilä into a safe and sustainable future.