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Labour Inspectorate grants three awards for practices that improve the working environment

The Labour Inspectorate celebrates the Day for Health at Work already for the 18th time. At a seminar dedicated to the Day for Health at Work, the discussion concerned the role of the medical check-ups of employees and how to turn it from an obligation into a need. There was also talk about the possibilities to prevent musculoskeletal disorders, caused by the working environment, and preserving the capacity for work. At the seminar, three best practices in 2016 to make the working environment safer and healthier were given an award. The best this year were Saint Gobain Glass Estonia, Elisa Eesti and Swedbank. Saint-Gobain Glass Estonia introduced a bluespot – a light installed on a forklift. It helps notice the approaching vehicle sooner and gives pedestrians or other road users more time to react to avoid being hit. According to Siim Ansberg, manager of quality, environment, safety at work and safety, due to the specifics of the company, one of the major sources of safety risks related to forklifts. “In the past there have been several lucky escapes and dangerous situations, and unfortunately also injury accidents involving a forklift and a pedestrian. Regrettably, it is the pedestrian who suffers and may often be severely injured,” he said. Ansberg added that the bluespot has significantly raised the workers’ awareness of forklift-related accidents and both pedestrians and forklift operators pay much more attention to each other. Elisa Eesti focussed on their call centre staff that do not have a designated work station. It was difficult to adjust different desks to make them fit and employees could not stretch or change their working position at the right time. Disturbing background noise was another major problem. According to Kaija Teemägi, HR manager of Elisa Eesti AS, the most critical problems were mapped together with employees and the goal was set to turn Elisa call centres into a modern, ergonomic and functional working environment. “Today, our staff can adjust the position so that it suits them. It helps them concentrate more on the job and remain in a happier mood. A service provider who is in good spirits is sure to serve the clients better,” Teemägi said.  Swedbank’s best practice addresses all their employees in sedentary jobs and to this end a health track was introduced in the working environment. Liis Oja, working environment specialist at Swedbank AS: “The lion’s share of our staff works behind computers. Doctors have said that sitting is the “new smoking” and that is why you should get up from the chair a couple of times during the day and – why not walk through a 1.2-kilometre health track,” she said. In addition to the health track, the endomondo app was used to plan 1820 m walking tracks in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu that start right from the front of Swedbank offices. The length of the track matches the time when Swedbank was founded and the tracks might even be called the “Swedbank mileage”. Oja added, that the health tracks in the buildings were a daily reminder that it was also possible to get some exercise in fresh air, on 1000 km health tracks, which Swedbank had been sponsoring with Eesti Energia and Merko for already ten years. The Labour Inspectorate has been collecting the best practices to improve the working environment since 2009. Over the time, about 280 good ideas have been stored in the database, serving as inspiration for all organisations keen to improve their working environment. Read about the best practices here