ELMERI is a simple method developed by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health for making tidiness and safety observations and improvements at the workplace. ELMERI can be applied to different work environments. The observation form consists of an A4-sized sheet of paper that is filled during observation rounds. Observations are marked according to three assessment options: OK, Not OK, and No observation.
The ELMERI method was introduced in Koskisen’s Sawn Timber Industry in 2014. The Institute of Occupational Health’s material provides clear observation instructions, which makes getting started easy. For example, under “Order and tidiness”, desks and worktops are considered OK if they are in order and do not have unnecessary items on them.
“After a few practice rounds, the system was used in earnest the following year, and we began adding up the ELMERI index,” says Argo Vinkman, project engineer and supervisor for Koskisen’s Sawn Timber Industry.
The ELMERI index is calculated on the basis of the observation form. If all observed areas are OK, the work environment scores a perfect 100%. The index directly states the percentage of observed sites that are OK, with every department calculated separately. An overall index for all of Sawn Timber Industry is also calculated; this year the target is to exceed 85%.
“It’s an ambitious target, but I believe we can do it,” says Production Manager Jaakko Huttunen.
“Last year we learned that the observation rounds should be scheduled right away for the whole year, to make sure they are performed.”
In Sawn Timber Industry, an ELMERI round is, in fact, scheduled to take place every two weeks. It takes an hour or two to perform one round, depending on the areas to be checked, and in the course of the year, all departments will be checked. The rounds are attended by an employee representative from the department, the department supervisor, an OHS delegate, the production manager, the OHS manager and maintenance representatives. Contractor representatives can also be included, if necessary.
“When all those concerned are part of the rounds, it’s easier to agree on how to take matters forward. In addition, a lot of other observations are made during the rounds besides just matters brought up by ELMERI,” Huttunen points out.
“At first, arranging the rounds was not so easy, because the employees felt like they were being criticised for not keeping things tidy,” says Vinkman.
“Eventually, however, we discovered that the shared work environment is a better and safer place to work in when it is tidy and orderly.”
When tools and items can be found where they are supposed to be, it speeds up the work. Cleaning up is also easier if there’s no junk piled up in the corners.
“Tidy production premises that are in order also give customers a positive impression of the company and the quality of its operations,” Vinkman adds.
“We have also received a lot of positive feedback from sales, who have told us that the production areas are tidier now,” says Huttunen.
The efforts to make Koskisen’s Sawn Timber Industry’s work areas cleaner and safer continue – there’s always work to be done!