At Mourik, we always say: “we do it safely or not at all.” Our safety policy has grown from rules to culture. That means working safely not because we have to, but because we want to. This idea also lives on among our clients, such as Zeeland Refinery. Marnix Bezemer is Head of HSE at Mourik Industry and talked to his counterpart at the Zeeland refinery: Safety Specialist Marc Brandes.
“For us, it's about everyone being able to go home healthy every day,” says Marc. “Of course that's a huge cliché, but it's true. That is why clear rules are important. But we are dealing with people. You can say: it's in the procedure, but it's not that simple. It's about awareness. My role as a security officer is to help the people in the field. Not as a big brother, but as a colleague. I'm here to help.”
Photo: Marc Brandes and Marnix Bezemer
Approach is crucial
“It's quite complicated for the guys in the factory,” adds Marnix. “A lot of them come in different places, with different rules everywhere. A simple example: the emergency numbers are different at every factory. If you're an engineer and you're here at Zeeland Refinery one day and somewhere else the next, try calling the right number right away. Our job is to make it easier.” Marc says: “My experience is that people are open to help, but the way you approach them is crucial. Approach neatly, show interest, remove barriers. This is important."
An additional challenge is the amount of nationalities on the plant. “We have all kinds of nationalities here. Workers from Romania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, from everywhere. It is extra difficult for them," says Marc. “That is because of the language barrier, but also because of cultural differences. In other cultures they deal with rules very differently than we Dutch. Here, for example, we are used to directly addressing each other about behavior, but that is by no means common everywhere.”
Safety awareness video
Marnix adds: “Often our boys are very go-minded. They want to pass for the boss and finish the job. Sometimes they forget the stop reflex. Think before you go to work. Is everything safe? Are you wearing the correct personal protective equipment? Do you smell anything? Shortcuts are dangerous.” Mourik made a film about this subject together with Zeeland Refinery, specifically about the delivery of pipelines free of pressure and product. “That shows very clearly how we deal with potentially dangerous situations. It is very recognizable for the men in the workplace.”
Open to rewards
“At Zeeland Refinery, we have had a program to encourage and reward safe behavior for years: We Intervene,” Marc explains. “This ties in nicely with the video. We want to make people aware of risks and make sure they report them. Making mistakes is allowed. It's not to snitch someone, but very important. We can learn something from these kinds of reports. That is why we reward people who talk about it openly and honestly. This can be done very simply, for example with a voucher of a few euros for the canteen. It's about the gesture."
Creating conditions for safety
At Mourik we have a similar culture program: Just S@M. Marnix: S@M stands for safety at Mourik. Reports of potentially dangerous situations are very important to us. We call them SiSSers. And we always follow them closely. How could the situation arise? Were the permits in order? Was the work preparation correct? That's where safety actually starts. Personal protective equipment and safe behavior in the factory are of course important, but we also have to create the conditions to be able to work safely.
New ways to share knowledge
Videos are a great way to share knowledge. Marnix says: “Times are changing. And you have to address the new generation in a different way. That can also be done with an app, for example.” At Zeeland Refinery, for example, they use an app to secure installations. Marc explains: “The program is called Blind-it. In the app, employees can view their work in real time: am I in the right location? Can I start and how should I do it?” Marnix emphasizes that technology is not a substitute for experience. “We have a lot of expertise in house. We also need to ensure that the old generation transfers knowledge to the young generation.
Marc thinks it is very important to work together on safety. “Ultimately, we all have the same challenges. So we really like to get feedback from our contractors: are our procedures workable? What could be better? The people of Mourik are in the field every day with their safety shoes. We can learn from that. And such a video is also a good idea. I also think about other topics, such as working at heights. We are happy to work with you, because this is really a win-win situation. When it comes to safety, we are all on the same team.”