Category: Industry

He leads the country’s strongest team in occupational hygiene

Few people have heard of occupational hygiene. Nevertheless, it is absolutely essential for the Norwegian working environment. Bror Johan Tørneng Wik leads one of the country’s strongest occupational hygiene team that contributes to a safer working life.

Throughout his working life, Bror has worked with occupational hygiene. He has worked with HSE and chemical management in companies such as Maersk and the predecessors of Aker BP. Today, he leads the Health and Working Environment group at Proactima.

Increasing wellbeing and reducing illness for people at work – a place where many of us spend much of our lives – is the main motivation for me,” he begins.

Occupational hygiene is in short supply

Proactima’s occupational hygiene team assists companies with consultancy, risk mapping, risk management, chemical audits – and much more. The expertise of occupational hygiene experts is also important for the country’s occupational health services.

Bror Johan Tørneng Wik, group leader for Health and Working Environment at Proactima, leads one of the country’s strongest professional environments in occupational hygiene.

– The companies we work for know the working environment best – and so we need to work together on how to make things better in their workplace. We make a difference to individuals; at the same time, there is no doubt that good occupational hygiene is important on a socio-economic level.

He is supported by colleague Hans Thore Smedbold, who, in addition to being an occupational hygienist, is also chairman of the Norwegian Occupational Hygiene Association. Smedbold believes that collaboration with occupational health services is important.

– Expertise in occupational hygiene is in short supply in society. Occupational health services are not getting the right expertise and are being filled with healthcare professionals – of which there are too few in this country. At the same time, we have a strong professional environment here that can support them and help the companies. It’s a win-win situation for us, for occupational health services and for health Norway, says Smedbold.

Our occupational hygienists often assist in these industries:

  • Oil and gas
  • Industry
  • Building and construction
  • Occupational health service

Several factors affect the working environment

According to Smedbold, the occupational hygiene profession creates major ripple effects in society. In its simplest sense, the profession is about preventing people from getting sick at work. In purely economic terms, sick leave is a major burden for those who fall ill, as well as being costly for companies and the state.

Hans Thore Smedbold is an occupational hygienist at Proactima and head of the Norwegian Occupational Hygiene Association.

It is therefore important to avoid people being affected by serious illness, which in the worst case scenario reduces life expectancy and quality of life.

– There are several industries where working conditions lead to cancer or COPD. For example, in a workplace with welding fumes or a lot of silica dust. This may be due to companies having difficulty understanding how dangerous their working environment is, because some limit values for welding fumes and dust exposure are outdated, and legislation is not updated according to current knowledge of the risk factors, says Smedbold.

A well-trained occupational hygienist knows this and will avoid using these limits,” he adds.

With today’s knowledge, the risk factors can be mapped in advance. For example, Proactima can assist with a professional assessment before a building and construction project is initiated.

Did you know that Proactima is working to update the legislation? We share our knowledge with politicians and other professionals and work to ensure that the limit values for hazardous chemicals and particles are up-to-date and health-based. Read more about this later.

Standing on several legs

External factors such as chemicals are a known risk factor in many workplaces. However, interpersonal relationships can also have a very negative impact on the working environment – and are categorized as a risk factor.

– A typical issue we work with can be a workplace that is experiencing sky-high levels of conflict in the workplace. A labor dispute can be highly charged and many employees can become ill from the environment. With technical tools such as surveys and assessments, we can support a business with conflict management and solutions. Our uniqueness is that we solve occupational health issues combined with management support and risk management to find holistic solutions for our customers, says Bror.

That’s why most of the occupational hygienists at Proactima have multidisciplinary backgrounds. Multidisciplinarity is one of the reasons why the environment is so academically robust.

– Some of us are ergonomists at heart, others, like myself, work with chemical management. Together, we make up a versatile and professionally strong team that works closely with the rest of Proactima’s consultants to promote a safe and sustainable society, Bror concludes.

Interested in joining the team – or hearing more about the services we offer?

Click here to read more about our services and contact us contact us

Heading for High Goals

What began as an entrepreneurial idea 36 years ago has now evolved into the leading specialists in Southern Norway for renting lifts and equipment for work at heights. With just 20 employees and an annual turnover of 100 million Norwegian kroner, Høyde Teknikk AS is well on its way to new heights. But how can a small organization meet significant demands?

-Our goal is to be the best in the class. This requires robust systems and insights into the risks in our own and our subcontractors’ operations. High activity demands good documentation and control systems, and with growth come more requirements and needs for efficient management, says Rune Syvertsen at Høyde Teknikk AS.

Proactima has assisted the team in Sørlandsparken with capacity and expertise in HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment), risk management, due diligence assessments, and finding a management system solution tailored to their size and needs.

Not Uncommon for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

“Our mission is to provide confidence and guidance along the way,” says Reidar Bjerke, Senior Advisor at Proactima.

-At some point, it tips: more assignments, more offices, more people to take care of, more adherence to the same procedures, more demands, and regulations. That’s when you need good tools to keep track, just like before, says Reidar Bjerke, Senior Consultant in Health and Workplace Safety at Proactima.

He leads the way in ensuring safety and knowledge transfer to Høyde Teknikk, along with colleagues Hanne-Marit Berge in risk and business management and Malena Kyvik Martens in sustainability and adaptation.

Bjerke explains that it’s not uncommon for small and medium-sized enterprises to outgrow the systems built for smaller startup businesses.

“Small and medium-sized companies often have a good gut feeling about what they should do but are unsure of how to approach it,” explains Bjerke.

Dominating the High Market for 36 Years

Rune Syvertsen in Teknikk AS is satisfied with the collaboration with Y. Photo: Høyde Teknikk AS.

Høyde Teknikk AS started small in 1987 in Southern Norway and now boasts a state-of-the-art fleet of 450 rental machines. They have expanded their rental business for lifts, telescopic handlers, and technical equipment to the regions of Western Norway and Eastern Norway. Working at heights can be risky, requiring operational reliability, personal safety, and accident prevention.

-Even though we have just as high demands as the big players, we need systems and methods that suit our size. Proactima has given us confidence that we’re ‘doing it right.’ We’ve also learned more about HSE, risk management, due diligence, and effective business management, says Syvertsen.

The collaboration with Proactima has been excellent, and they feel that their needs have been met. They have received straightforward and cost-effective solutions, according to Syvertsen. These solutions build upon what they already had and point the way for how they can continue to work on it themselves. Syvertsen adds that through the expertise and capacity provided by Proactima, Høyde Teknikk has gained both tools and knowledge to support ongoing efforts towards continuous improvement.