At Råde Graveservice, machine operators are involved in safety decisions

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Lars Andersen, operations manager, Kurt J Nielsen, HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) manager, and Jan-Erik Berg, foreman and machine operator

We took a trip to Norway to visit Onsøy Pukkverk in the municipality of Fredrikstad. Here, machine operator Jan-Erik Berg has been working for many years and he himself has requested to protect himself with Hammerglass.
– I unfortunately know what it feels like to accidentally encounter unexploded explosives, and I never want to experience that again without having machine windows that withstand both blast waves and projectiles.

”We have machine operators who have worked for us their whole lives”

Råde Graveservice AS has around 100 employees, and apart from their daily work at Onsøy Pukkverk, they also take on projects in the nearby area, between Ski and Halden.

– We deliberately keep the size of the company at a medium level, creating a family-like atmosphere. All employees can come home after work since the projects are nearby. We find that our employees appreciate and benefit from this approach, notes operations manager Lars Andersen.

How is the company dealing with the ongoing construction crisis?

– We are doing well thanks to having several long-term contracts. Additionally, we diversify our projects so that we have multiple sources of income.

Many of the company's employees stay for a long time, which Lars sees as evidence that the company keeps up with developments and looks out for everyone's best interests, regardless of their role.

– I've been here for 17 years myself, but we have operators who have worked for us their whole lives, and that's fantastic. I believe the key is listening to their experience and wishes, allowing them to be involved in decisions about their own safety and well-being. Nothing is more important than people's health and lives, which is why we choose Hammerglass when the performance demands it.

The company actively recruits young apprentices who get to experience the life of a machine operator, and most are offered permanent jobs.

– Currently, we have five apprentices, and the plan is, of course, to hire them. It's a system that benefits both students and the company. The industry needs new, skilled operators who understand the job and choose this path because they genuinely enjoy the tasks and responsibilities.

”I told my boss I wanted Hammerglass”


At Råde Graveservice, machines are named after their operators. Jan-Erik's Volvo has Hammerglass protection on the windshield – a sure sign that he feels secure behind it.

Jan-Erik Berg has been a machine operator at Råde Graveservice for almost twenty years, and breaking stones is part of daily life at Onsøy Pukkverk. Over the years, he has had several broken windows due to stone impacts, leading to costly machine downtime. However, the most serious incident for him was an accident involving hidden explosives in the stone.

– It happened incredibly fast, from nothing to suddenly everything exploding around me. My machine disappeared in a cloud of dust, and my colleagues didn't initially know what had happened to me, if I was injured or even alive. Luckily, I was fine, but I was completely shaken afterward and had a strong feeling of insecurity that I hadn't experienced before. I started looking for other safety windows and found Hammerglass. Now, I'm on my second machine with Hammerglass in the cabin, and I feel completely safe every day. Moreover, I'm very happy to work for a company where they listen to me as an operator and take my safety and health seriously.

How does it feel to operate without a grille?

– Incredibly nice. I'm also impressed with the ScreenSaver window, which protects the original window - it can withstand a lot. I've had some big stones hit it.

Why did you become a machine operator?

– I actually first trained as a child educator! But then I tried operating a machine because my dad was a machine operator, and I got hooked. My dad has been here for over forty years, and I've been an employee for almost twenty. There's a very good atmosphere in the company, and we're a great group that cares about each other. That's what makes you enjoy your work. I think it's important to showcase the benefits of the profession early on to young people, help them understand how sought-after and important machine operators are in the industry, and that it's a profession with room for growth. We notice that there's quite a difference between us older operators and the younger ones who come straight from school; they have safety awareness. We “oldies” are a bit more... 'oh, it'll be fine'... But after my accident, there has never been any doubt for me; my safety weighs the heaviest.

”The operators know best what can happen”


Safety officer Kurt J. Nielsen (left) is happy to listen to Jan-Erik Berg's experiences from life in the quarry. "He knows the risks he's exposed to.”

Kurt J. Nielsen is responsible for health, environment, safety (HSE), and quality assurance (QA) at Råde Graveservice. His duties include staying updated with the market's offerings regarding safety solutions and any new legal requirements.

– We're constantly changing and evolving in the company; we have to in order to comply with regulations and recommendations. Those of us working with safety in the industry must also listen to the operators and their knowledge; they know what can happen. Generally, I would say that the attitude and work around safety have improved in Norway recently. There will always be risks in this profession, depending on the machine's working environment, but those risks should be as low as possible, and behind this is a genuine focus on safety at every level.

How important is material knowledge for you as a safety officer?

– It's incredibly important. Materials have different properties and behave differently, both in accidents and in terms of daily wear, cleaning, strong sunlight, etc. Alongside safety, the company must make smart purchases that don't lead to unnecessary expensive repairs and machine downtime at our customers' sites.

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