What we do to stay safe; nothing is more important

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  • Tuesday December 19th, 2017 | Features

The one thing which truly can keep me awake at night is the concern for the safety of my colleagues. Ensuring their well-being is the top-priority for me and my managers. Many of our colleagues work at sites where they are exposed to potential safety hazards. If we take the example of Singapore, there were 66 fatalities in 2016 and out of these, 6 were in the marine segment (source: www.mom.gov.sg)

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Our Technical Services Representatives (TSRs) work closely together with our customers and the contractors of the shipyards. From surface preparation to the finished coat, TSRs are on hand to provide sound technical advice to make sure the products are applied to the highest quality standards and correct specification to ensure optimum performance of the vessel in service.

On jobs away from the shipyard, our TSRs offer their experience and expertise on corrosion and coatings in any number of projects, all over the world. This constantly changing environment, added with the fact that we work with an ever-increasing range of projects, teams and customers puts high demands on our TSRs and highlights the need to remain firmly focused on safety at all times.

How do we keep TSRs safe?

Our Technical Service, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) training packages and field experience are designed to lead to the knowledge that enables our TSRs to undertake accurate Risk Assessments for the situations they encounter whilst working in yards.

Regular communication is important and so we constantly keep all TSRs informed of any safety alerts either from within AkzoNobel or outside of the organisation.

I’m always heartened to see how our TSRs take ownership of their safety and find new ways to look out for each other. Some teams communicate via social media, sharing key happenings or risks they have identified and I think this is a great way of people working in different locations; all around the world can quickly share and support their colleagues.

Lifesaving rules (LSR)

Every working environment presents some element of risk. Training, use of safety equipment and identification and reporting of risks is only part of the answer – the other is making our workplaces safer. That is the real goal. For this reason AkzoNobel works in partnership with shipyards, fabricators and customers to maintain a safe working environment.

All our employees, including TSRs, attend monthly meetings where safety matters and learnings from safety alerts are discussed. Every safety alert is an opportunity for the team to improve.

But at the centre of every meeting and everything we do are the AkzoNobel Life Saving Rules (LSR). These directives are unquestionable and unquestionably the most important element of safety in our business.

The Golden Rule

At every level of the organisation it is vital that people know, remember and act upon our Life Saving Rules, including the golden rule to “stop work if conditions or behaviors are unsafe”. TSRs carry a card with the LSRs and Golden Rule which they can show to customers if they feel the need to do so.

Applying the LSRs and the Golden Rule has truly saved lives and not just of AkzoNobel employees. An example where a TSR and shipyard have worked together was in covering all manholes. The area where the TSR was to carry out his work had several open manholes which could cause someone to fall into it. The TSR highlighted this to the shipyard and the manholes were covered. Another TSR urged a contractor to wear a safety harness whilst working at great height on scaffolding. When disaster struck and the scaffolding fell down the harness saved the contractor’s life.

But equally I have seen examples where staff have identified and reported a hazard – a piece of pipe laying in a walkway at the top of scaffolding stairs – they have filled in all the paperwork, reported it , and outlined all the potential accidents that could occur. Immediate action was also taken to move the pipe out of the walkway.

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Safety is the responsibility of the entire company

Of course, the work by TSRs covers just one area of the vast industry in which we operate. In line with our policy statement on Health, Safety, Environment and Security 2016, all our activities are underpinned by AkzoNobel’s core principles of safety, integrity and sustainability.

This means acknowledging responsibility for protecting the health and safety of employees, contractors, customers and neighbors. We continue to drive our behavior-based safety (BBS) programs and Life-Saving Rules across the company. Our safety programs have resulted in a major improvement in the total reportable rate of injuries per million hours worked, which has decreased from 2.4 in 2012 to 1.4 in 2016. Further work is needed to meet our target of 1.0 by 2020 and eventually “zero”.

Zero injuries, waste and harm

Last August a fatal incident at a shipyard in South Korea, which is still under thorough investigation, offers a stark reminder of the importance of safety at the workplace. As a result, I strongly believe that even one accident represents one too many and that every industry as a whole should aspire to achieve zero injuries, waste and harm. Complacency is our biggest enemy; a daily commitment to continuous improvement our only friend.

Have a great Christmas and a blessed New Year. Stay safe!

Oscar

@OscarWezenbeek

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