Safe working practices
Working safely is a top priority for Alliander. It has to be, because working with gas and electricity is risky. The work we do also involves other risks. For example, we work at roadsides, at heights and with hazardous substances. Regrettably, 69 accidents occurred at work in 2021. One of these was a serious industrial accident. Every single work-related accident is one too many. That is why we comply with sector-wide standards, stipulations and requirements pursuant to legislation and regulations. We work according to the Working Conditions Catalogue and the protocols of the VIAG (safety instructions for energy companies when working with natural gas) and BEI (safety instructions for working on and close to electrical installations). Alliander makes sure employees apply the Life Saving Rules, which provide clarity. When incidents occur, we analyse them and share the lessons learned with all involved, including contractors for example.
Primary process certification
Assessment by independent and accredited organisations generates information that Alliander uses to improve the management system and performance in the primary process chain. In addition, Alliander sees certification as the appropriate instrument for confirming and demonstrating that Alliander controls risks and assures and improves quality. The management system is based on ISO 9001, supplemented where necessary by certification for ISO 55001, NTA 8120, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, the Safety Ladder and SCC (safety, health and environment checklist contractors, ‘VCA’). An overview of the certificates and their scope is provided in Other non-financial information.
Lost Time Injury Frequency
Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF) expresses the number of accidents resulting in sickness absence per one million worked hours. The LTIF in 2021 was 2.6, which is higher than the LTIF in 2020 (1.8). In view of the increase in the LTIF, we will conduct a review in the first quarter of 2022 to determine whether the existing control measures (toolbox meetings, anti-sprain shoes, etc.) are adequate and whether there are any developments that have increased the safety risk.
Employees can report dangerous situations and incidents to their manager or supervisor through immediately accessible (digital) channels. Accidents and incidents are discussed in the organisational units’ Incident Review Group. If necessary, the reason for a reported incident and associated causes are investigated, so that management action can be taken (nationally if necessary). Based on risk and trend analyses, several issues have been addressed, for example replacement of insufficiently safe assets, procedure for signing in at stations, and falls and trips. An occupational health and safety risk assessment and evaluation is carried out periodically for each organisational unit, under the supervision of SEQ. Improvements are noted and discussed with management.
Lost Time Accidents
Accidents with no lost time
Safety, Environment and Quality department
In 2021, the Safety, Environment and Quality department was formalised in the new organisational structure. This reflects our conviction that focusing on quality and working safely has a positive impact on productivity and task feasibility, because the work is right first time as a result and can be carried out in complete safety.
‘Everyone safely home’ requires not only good safety policies and safe implementation, but also a proactive safety culture. The Safety Ladder audit assesses how proactive safety awareness is in the organisation. Is there sufficient management focus on safe behaviour? Are there clear rules and are they observed? And how is communication on safety topics organised? In 2021, the organisational units Qirion, Maintenance & Outages, Private Customers and Business Customers, Reconstruction & Energy Networks achieved rung 3 on the Safety Ladder for the first time. This means that the organisation is ‘calculative’; i.e., the organisation takes responsibility for safety. The objective is to move up to rung 4 in 2025 (‘proactive’: all layers of the organisation are involved in complying with the safety rules).
In addition, in 2021, we organised safety observation rounds during which managers and directors discussed observed risks with colleagues, the conviction that the work can be done safely, and the safety-related dialogue with and between colleagues.
Our engineers and contractors attend training and education courses in order to keep their safety knowledge and skills up to date at all times. In 2021, 1,789 employees and 205 contractors passed their safety training exams.
Safety in the supply chain
Safety is not just a matter for our own organisation. Last year, three serious accidents occurred at sites where partners were working for us. We also feel responsible for safety in the activities of supply chain partners. That is why we endorse the Safe Energy Networks Governance Code and make clear working agreements (set out in contracts and other documents) with contractors. We continue to conduct a dialogue on the issues we observe and what needs to be improved. The purpose is to learn so that we can improve our work processes and continuously increase safety at work. In 2021, we made an active contribution to the Energy Safety Festival, among other initiatives.
Working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
Alliander once again complied fully with the measures implemented by central government and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in 2021. The measures that apply to our work were identified in an Alliander COVID-19 Roadmap. The Roadmap was assessed as part of the risk assessment and evaluation. Alliander also complied with the national ‘Samen Veilig Doorwerken’ protocol in 2021. This protocol sets out clear guidelines on working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, not only for the construction and installation sector, but also for residents, clients, customers, suppliers and all employees.
Exposure to hazardous substances
Since September 2018, multiple surveys have been conducted to detect unsafe levels of benzene in the soil after gas leaks. The Soil Protection working group set up by Netbeheer Nederland will present an approach in 2022. Together with VEWIN, we are also investigating traces of benzene in drinking water. The results are also expected in 2022.
In 2021, we validated the work instructions on hexavalent chromium with our own exposure measurements. In addition, Alliander and Netbeheer Nederland have contributed input and expertise to shape a new national management regime. The new national management regime may lead to changes in our own work instructions in the future.
All parties active in the network sector work according to a common asbestos policy. In recent years, we have acted to have our policies integrated into national asbestos legislation. An exemption for the inventory requirement was delivered in draft form in 2021 and subsequently discussed with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. By allowing the exemption, the Ministry recognises that the network companies have a robust asbestos policy and that we are fully aware of our asbestos-related risks. Our use of the sources book and our investigations into safe work practices show that we take asbestos seriously. The new national asbestos legislation is expected to be passed in 2022.