Zero accidents: reality, not dream

Zero accidents: reality, not dream

It is possible to eliminate accidents _ if a company has health and safety in its blood. That’s according to Marek Rolinec, who is responsible for occupational health and safety at the Mochovce Nuclear Power in Slovakia …

I would imagine that some of our readers are surprised that I am quoting someone from Slovakia. The reason is that Rolinec is speaking at the tenth annual HSE Excellence Europe Forum _ and I’m interested in his opinions, because I will be representing SHEQ MANAGEMENT at this prestigious and very important event.

I find his attitude refreshing. We live in a world of complacency, and Rolinec is anything but. He’s worked at the plant since 2009 and tells SHEQ MANAGEMENT that its owner, Slovenské elektrárne, is passionate about the safety of workers

“Slovenské elektrárne, which is part of Enel, takes safety as a priority during all activities performed, with extraordinary value placed on the health of workers,” he confirms.

Training is key. “While we were completing the plant, 32 925 people were retrained until the end of 2015. Another special key activity is inspections, and there is zero tolerance for unsafe behavior. Slovenské elektrárne hired 50 health, safety and environment (HSE) specialists (half of these were safety supervisors). They identified and corrected almost 10 000 shortcomings.

This system helps the organisation to minimise exposure to hazards to the shortest possible time. All findings are recorded and evaluated using a special tool called Construction Safety Indicators (CSI Mochovce).

“At the same time, methods of positively motivating workers are also important, with disciplinary tools on the other side as well. Unfortunately, in Slovakia the disciplinary system is more effective than positive motivation and rewards,” Rolinec reveals.

Last, but not least, communication plays a key role. “For this purpose, we do conduct a number of events and communication campaigns on a regular basis. The goal of these campaigns is to change the thinking of workers on site from ‘I have to’ to ‘I want to’. It is, however, a long process and time is the only aspect we are always missing,” he concedes.

Via these methods, Slovenské elektrárne is striving for zero accidents. “A company with occupational health and safety in its blood is able to define an effective system that is capable of functioning for a long time and is able to achieve a zero accident rate,” he notes.

Sadly, this isn’t always achieved. “When we were completing the plant, we achieved six years of operation and approximately 40-million man-hours without any severe accident. Then one person died on the construction site. The father of a one-year-old daughter did not go back home.

“During the investigation process, no violation from the side of Slovenské elektrárne was proved. Despite this, the fact is that a person died in our project and this must never happen again.”

Since this tragedy, there has been even more focus on the behavior of workers at the site. “All workers have to understand that the consequences resulting from the violation of rules are much more severe than any perceived benefits.

“I do not in the least reject zero as a goal. If you want to be the best, you must set your goal at the top level and then it is crucial to do the best you can to meet that goal. If, by accident, something fails, then the efforts need to be doubled.”

Speaking of “the best”, what are the most important qualities of an HSE leader? “Diplomacy, empathy, strategy, analysis, theory, courage, decisiveness and resolution,” Rolinec reports. I look forward to learning more from him next month!

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