Jeannette Paul & Jaap Bongers

Cross interview on safety at work

Published on 27 April 2022
At SPIE, safety is never taken for granted. It’s continually being improved and enshrined in our 10 life saving rules.”
Jeannette Paul, SPIE Nederland
Jeannette Paul, CSR and SHEQ Director at SPIE Nederland

Testimonial by Jeannette Paul, CSR and SHEQ Director, SPIE Nederland

We rolled out the Group’s 10 Life Saving Rules campaign in the Netherlands in 2021. Our aim was to highlight rules that were mostly already in place but can  really save lives. That’s fundamental in our line of work. At SPIE Nederland, 80% of our employees work in the field, usually on worksites where they’re exposed to occupational health and safety risks on a daily basis. That makes it essential to set out clear, common safety standards, especially when several
teams are working together in “One SPIE” mode. 

In practical terms, the SPIE subsidiaries together developed ready-to-use kits to help field teams understand and adhere to the 10 Life Saving Rules. They
include videos with SPIE employees in real-life work situations. Between February and November, we also included these 10 rules in our monthly health and safety meetings. They were presented by frontline managers, as they know their teams, the work to be done and from the perspective of leadership are responsible for the safety in their teams.

One year after the launch, we’ve seen a drop in the number of safety incidents in the Group and at SPIE Nederland. While all the credit can’t go to the 10 Life Saving Rules, I’m convinced they contributed to the improvement. 

Today, the rules are well known among our colleagues. They’re included in our procedures and reference documents and regularly come up in safety flashes on our IN SPIE app. But that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. New, local campaigns will be run by some divisions in the next few months. The rules will also be a big part of Safety Day 2022 and the action plans for Worksphere integration. It’s up to us to keep our 10 rules at the front of everyone’s minds. 

Safety: everyone has a role to play. It concerns all SPIE employees, on worksites and in offices, as well as our customers, our subcontractors and all our partners.”
Jaap Bongers, SPIE Nederland
Jaap Bongers, Business unit manager at SPIE Nederland

In my division, we do maintenance work on moveable bridges and locks that are in constant operation and whose parts are powered by electrical systems. So  one of the main risks for employees is getting electrocuted. 

To prevent this risk, we’ve introduced a new procedure called “Log out, tag out, try out” (Lototo), which is part of our 10 Life Saving Rules. It’s simple: every employee has a specific key that allows them to lock the electrical equipment in the off position when an operation is being carried out. Next, the employee attaches a tag to inform others and indicate that they are the person responsible for this action, and then checks that the equipment is properly locked in the off position. Only they can reconnect the equipment once the operation is complete. All technicians are concerned, whether they specialised in electricity or mechanics.

This new procedure was well received by the teams because they see it as improving their safety. The same goes for all 10 Life Saving Rules, too, which employees see as logical, in keeping with their day-to-day work, and a natural extension of the transformations undertaken in recent years. To give one practical  example, we now offer employees the chance to get some sleep in a local hotel at the end of a night shift, so they don’t have to drive home tired.

We’ll keep working to improve safety in 2022. For instance, we are going to ask the many employees who handle heavy loads, like with overhead cranes, to get
certified by an external organisation. We also want to systematically include a risk analysis for each job in the documents describing our methods. Another key point, I believe, will need to have more discussions about safety with our customers during dedicated meetings. Speaking from experience, that would be very useful. Because safety is not just SPIE’s responsibility, it also concerns our customers, our subcontractors, our partners… In fact, safety is everyone’s business.