Occupational health and safety, the quality of operations and environmental matters. These are Pohjolan Voima’s priorities, and they are equally important for the company’s subcontracting chain. There is no doubt about this, as Pohjolan Voima audits the practices of its service providers through an HSEQ cluster. For Pohjolan Voima, the HSEQ audit is an excellent way to ensure commitment to the common rules.

Pohjolan Voima has been involved in the HSEQ supplier assessment cluster for a year now. Each of the cluster’s 13 member companies is committed to being responsible in its health, safety, environmental and quality policies, and to continuously improve its performance. This translates to an excellent safety culture, attention to occupational health and safety, environmental responsibility and systematic quality control.

“Improving safety and developing the safety culture are targets included in Pohjolan Voima’s action plan. We want to ensure the safety not only of our own employees, but also our service providers’ employees. That is why it’s important for us to ensure that they also take safety, environmental and quality matters into account as widely as possible in their operations,” says Katja Permanto, Pohjolan Voima’s safety expert.

Together we are more 

The networked HSEQ audit process has its advantages, as the audits are not left to the company alone.  

“Safety is the main reason we joined the cluster. We had already considered performing audits ourselves. Joining the cluster made sense for us, however, as our supplier base is vast. We couldn’t have audited it as comprehensively ourselves,” Permanto says. 

The aim of the audits is not only to increase productivity, but also to improve the HSEQ skills of both the client and the subcontractors. The benefits are mutual. The audit process also aims to encourage the companies to systematically improve their practices. Auditing provides a good opportunity for a service provider to verify the quality of their own operations.

“Such activities increase the transparency of our entire chain of operations. It allows us to ensure that our subcontractors have managed their occupational health and safety, environmental and quality processes well. From our perspective, that’s the biggest benefit,” says Permanto.

Auditing is a team effort 

Katja Permanto has been working for Pohjolan Voima for seven years, and has been a safety expert for a couple of years. She is part of the HSEQ cluster steering group and is also personally involved in the audits. 

“It’s been an interesting journey. The steering group can influence the content of the audits, among other matters. During the pandemic, we’ve adapted the audit questions to make them more topical,” she says. 

The cluster’s audit processes are coordinated by Kiwa, one of the world’s largest testing, inspection and certification companies. Kiwa provides professional auditing services to the member companies of the cluster. The main auditor is supplied through Kiwa and is always accompanied by persons trained as HSEQ auditors appointed by the client company. The professional auditor and the representatives of the clients form a team that assesses the HSEQ level of the supplier company. The expert organisations involved in the development of the process are the University of Oulu, the Finnish Quality Association and the Industrial Institute of Northern Finland (POHTO).

“As the audit questions and scoring are the same for all service providers, it’s easy to compare the companies’ level of performance. The score is also a good indicator for the audited company itself,” says Permanto.

The HSEQ client cluster is open, and the audit process is available to all the member companies’ service providers. The member companies pay an annual fee to the cluster, while the audited company pays a fixed audit fee. The audit is valid for three years. Pohjolan Voima’s aim is to audit all its most important service providers through the cluster.