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Integrated Environmental, Health and Safety Management at Aircom

ISO 14001? ISO 45001? What’s with these certificates?

Today, Roksana Krzyżanowska- Quality Specialist will tell us about the audit of the integrated environmental, health, and safety management system, which our company successfully passed on October 5-6.  

Julia Łukaszewska: Good morning, Roksano. Let’s start with what the audit concerned about?

Roksana Krzyżanowska: Good morning. It was the first surveillance audit concerning ISO 14001: 2015 and ISO 45001: 2018. We have implemented the Integrated Environmental Management, Health and Safety System for 3 years. Last year, we successfully re-certified. The previous audit checked whether we adhered to the applicable standards, and we did not stop developing.

J.Ł .: Certainly, most of us do not know much about the certificate numbers  can you tell us what these standards refer to?

R.K .: The first certificate – ISO 14001 concerns the environmental standard. To receive this certificate, the company must i.a. identify all environmental impacts and define goals and actions to minimize them. At Aircom, we recognize the environmental aspect, set a goal to minimize it, and when it is achieved, we take care of the next one. Thanks to this, we gradually reduce our negative impact on the environment. For example: in the initial production and packaging of tire sealant that was not yet optimized, we had a waste of 40-50%. We have significantly lowered this parameter and at the moment our rate is below 1%. We have already overcome this problem, so we are starting the next one. This time, we assumed a reduction in paper consumption by reducing the number of prints.

J.Ł .: It is really a huge difference in reducing the amount of waste generation. So what does ISO 45001 specify?

R.K .: It is the first harmonized standard in the world that comprehensively describes the principles of health and safety. It concerns aspects related to with employee safety and work organization.

J.Ł .: Is having these certificates obligatory for a company like Aircom?

R.K .: Not a legal obligation. However, this is one of the requirements of our clients who want to be sure that they cooperate with a company that cares about the environment and employees. And our partners have ever higher requirements in this matter, which is why we are constantly trying to improve and make our security system more accessible and employee-friendly. We want everyone to be aware that we have implemented these standards, not only on paper.

It is therefore a real example of the Aircom mission: “We want to provide our partners with the highest quality products so that the Aircom brand is synonymous with reliability, credibility and innovation orientation. We also want to be a reliable business partner, employer and participant in social life wherever we create our products

Roksana Krzyżanowska

J.Ł .: It was not the first time that the auditor audited our company. Considering this fact, I would like to ask you if he noticed any clear changes with us over time?

R.K .: Yes, the auditor has been auditing our company since 2017 and he was impressed by the progress we have made both in terms of safety and the environment. Aircom is developing intensively, one of our commitments is the process of continuous improvement, which we constantly carry out. When it comes to health and safety, the auditor noticed new changing rooms and toilets, but he liked the new production lines the most. At the positions, next to these lines, in addition to the instructions on paper, we also have a video showing the work on a given position. What’s more, the instructional video has subtitles in both Polish and Ukrainian, which makes it understandable for all employees. We have also transferred all documents that must be filled in by employees to the digital version.

The auditor was also impressed by the fact that we are a leader in our industry in Europe, but also plan to expand to the Asian market. It was also appreciated that despite the pandemic, our company continues to operate in a 3-shift system and on Saturdays, because we still have very large orders.

We are also happy that we have not had an accident at work in the company for 447 days.

J.Ł .: As we can see, Aircom’s development is clearly noticed even by outsiders. What were the preparations for the audit like?

R.K .: Together with Anna Małecka (Quality Specialist), who took over all issues related to OHS, we had to prepare documentation resulting directly from the standard. I prepare, among others a list of significant environmental aspects, programs for environmental purposes, indicators that we monitor and how we do it. I am very happy that this year we were able to prepare for the audit with Ania. We work in one department, so it is easier for us to establish something and share our work. Ania knows the requirements of both standards very well, so there was no problem with the preparation of evidence proving that we meet them. Her systemic approach was very useful. Ania knows what documentation is required or how to deal with non-conformities.

One of the factors that we changed, which also positively influenced the audit result, was the change in the supervision of chemicals. Ania has created a new, more readable, and transparent form in which chemicals are categorized into individual groups. Each of the department heads has been trained on how to complete it and prepare such a statement for their department.

J.Ł .: You must have devoted a lot of time and energy to prepare. Of what, you were most proud of during this trial?

R.K .: Personally, I was most pleased with the commitment of the entire company. After sending an e-mail about the upcoming audit, the employees themselves asked for additional information or instructions on what or how to prepare. The great commitment of the purchasing department should also be appreciated. A new form for ordering chemicals has been created, and our colleagues from the purchasing department consistently ensure compliance with the introduced procedure. This makes it easier for us to monitor the flow of chemicals. Ania’s involvement, as I have already mentioned, was also very helpful.

J.Ł .: What did this audit give us then?

R.K .: First, we passed the audit positively without any inconsistencies, with only one potential for improvement. We are constantly developing and producing more and more. It is associated with an increasing amount of chemical packaging, gloves contaminated with them or sorbents. According to Polish law, 1t of hazardous waste can be returned annually, and we are already approaching this border. If we increase production even more next year, we will probably have to apply for a permit to generate hazardous waste.

J.Ł .: Did the audit during the pandemic looked different from before?

R.K .: Definitely yes. In order to comply with all safety rules, we had protective masks, we adhered to the principle of social distancing. Interviews with the auditor were kept to a minimum – the auditor only verified the requirements of both ISO standards. There was certainly no such loose, casual conversation during which the people taking part in the audit could show something more, as it used to be before. As a result, it remains a bit unsatisfied.

J.Ł .: What are the next plans for environmental development and OHS?

R.K .: I have a few ideas that I would like to implement in terms of visualization of what we do. Inside the company, we want to inform more about our activities based on the principles of sustainable development and that we are pro-environmental. There is already some progress, because thanks to cooperation with the marketing department, it was possible to create badges for saving water, cleaning in the kitchen, minimizing printouts or new, more readable instructions. In the near future, I would also like to show data on electricity, water and energy consumption.

J.Ł .: What are these situations?

R.K .: It can be, for example, a protruding, unsecured cable, or a bad, dangerous arrangement of elements in space. For example, a door opening in a corridor posed a threat. Currently, the changing rooms and toilets for production workers are being renovated, but before its start, the door leaf opening range was painted on the floor. They are walking down the corridor so we could easily avoid a potentially dangerous situation. After the renovation, we will definitely come back to this solution. The more employees talk about such situations, the better we can take care of their safety. According to the Heinrich pyramid, for each fatal accident, there are several times more light accidents, for which there are several hundred near misses. This means that by eliminating dangerous events that did not lead to injury, you can actually reduce the number of accidents that already result in injury.

J.Ł .: What environmental and health and safety goals have been set for this year?

R.K .: In 2020, we have 3 main environmental assumptions: minimizing plastic waste, reducing the number of prints and monitoring hazardous waste so as not to exceed the 1t limit. In terms of health and safety, as previously mentioned, we would like to increase the participation and involvement of employees in health and safety issues.

J.Ł .: I think that all employees will make every effort to contribute to the achievement of these goals. Congratulations on the successful conduct of the company before the audit and thank you for the interview.
R.K .: Thank you!