“Safety is a top priority here”


Wienerberger manufactures a wide range of ceramic building materials, from facing bricks and paving stones to roof tiles. More than a thousand people work at the company’s nineteen factories located throughout the Netherlands. “And we pull out all the stops to make sure that everyone is able to work safely,” says Marco Leggieri.

Marco is a logistics coordinator and head of the in-house emergency response team at Wienerberger Thorn. When it comes to the importance of safety, there are no two ways about it: “Safety is a top priority here. It comes before profit, before speed, before everything. And that should be the case everywhere. People should be able to trust that they are able to work safely, especially in an industrial environment.”

Safety is everywhere

WienerbergerWienerberger Thorn is synonymous with one product in particular: the hand-form brick, known for its irregular grain. It is a traditional product that is manufactured in a modern way. From mixing and heating the clay to pressing it into moulds and firing it in huge ovens – everything runs smoothly from machine to machine, until the finished product is neatly packaged on pallets outside in the storage area. “And as you walk through the factory, you’ll notice safety has been taken into account everywhere. Signs saying ‘You are here’, first-aid kits, which were recently all replaced, AEDs, eye showers, emergency buttons, sensors that detect irregularities, you name it.”

Staying safe

wienerbergerBefore you can even step into these factories, you have to observe a series of safety measures. “Visitors have to sign in and put on safety gear, as do all the staff; safety shoes, a bump cap, eye and ear protectors, and a yellow vest for visibility. There are always members of the emergency response team on the work floor, who you can easily spot from their clothing, so you can contact them quickly if something happens.” Seven people work at Thorn via AB Werkt. “They are also provided with all protective equipment, of course. Except for one thing: the safety shoes have to be provided by AB Werkt. That’s a legislation thing, apparently.”

Always room for improvement when it comes to safety

On the face of it, safety seems to be taken care of. “But we actually do a whole lot more, because there is always room for improvement when it comes to safety. Our seven-member in-house emergency response team is in the process of perfecting an evacuation plan. We also organize tool boxes; meetings with staff where we focus on safety topics, such as operating forklifts. We also ask our staff to be alert to risks and to share their knowledge with us. Good tips are rewarded. We also have a large body of staff, including trained HSE officers, who regularly visit the factories.”

Safety is responsibility

And what if someone doesn’t stick to the rules? “Then we call each other out on it. Everyone is responsible for a safe workplace. That’s no problem here at all. Our people are motivated, well trained, and know why we’re doing it. And everyone who works here is VCA-certified.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, an extra layer of security has been added in Wienerberger’s factories. Face masks, social distancing, all the familiar measures. We no longer hold large meetings, and all employees are tested every week. That, too, all sounds pretty robust. So, does nothing ever go wrong? “Oh yes,” Marco answers honestly. “I once had to treat a cut.”

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