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Safety is something to take very seriously.

Henryk Karwowski

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A true story, told honestly by a work colleague, speaks more than any information campaign.

WOJCIECH MICHALEC HSEQ Manager at KAEFER in Poland

Henryk Karwowski is one of us. He's a typical KAEFER employee, who worked at the PKN Orlen Heat and Power Plant in Płock, Poland. That's what made the story of what happened to him even more powerful. When finishing work on a boiler, a steam pipeline safety valve suddenly burst. In seconds, Henryk was enveloped in a cloud of heat and steam that was over 500 degrees centigrade. This was a nightmare scenario and it could have easily been the end. Except it wasn't.

He was wearing his safety glasses and trusted helmet and he managed to wrap himself in his protective jacket to escape the worst of the searing heat. But only just. Henryk suffered severe second- and third-degree burns on much of his skin and had to endure a month-long, painful recovery in hospital. Nevertheless, he counts himself as lucky to have survived at all. And thanks to the health and safety rules in place to protect employees from exactly these kinds of accidents, Henryk has lived to tell the story.

Which is exactly what he has done witha staggering effect in a short video created by KAEFER in Poland. The idea came from Wojciech Michalec, HSEQ Manager, who wanted to share a true story with KAEFER employees, rather than the standard safety reminders. It was first shown during the local KAEFER Safety Week and has gone onto become a staple, shown to staff at their morning check-in.

The silence in the room when the video had finished was deafening. This man was one of us, a friend, a buddy, someone that we would go for a drink with after work. And somebody whose life was saved by sticking to safety regulations and wearing protective clothing.

The shock and awe turned to gratitude, that the injuries Henryk sustained were not worse. But the image of his completely molten helmet stuck in the minds of the viewers for a long time to come. The most powerful stories come from the heart and are told by real people. That was certainly the case with Henryk.

And, in fact, the video of his story has gone viral in the KAEFER world, having been even shown at a trade fair in Australia and used in safety briefings elsewhere around the globe.

The moral of the story is, that when it comes to safety, you need to count on yourself as much as others to ensure you will make it home at the end of the day. So always wear your personal protective equipment. Just like Henryk did.


This is an article from the current edition of K-WERT, KAEFERs company magazine. Read more here