“Health and safety is our first priority, no doubt about that,” says Zeebrugge site manager Steen Lanng Jensen. “And although we should never be complacent, it seems to be working well here.”
“People here have the right attitude to safety, and that includes our main subcontractor Total Wind,” Steen says. “It helps that we established our health and safety standards on day one, and stuck to them. On some other projects we have had to work with people who had done it their own way for 30 years and didn’t always want to change.”
David Fagan, Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator with Vestas Offshore, agrees that the quality of the people on the project is key. “It’s true that we have had one lost-time injuries (more than one day of absence besides the day of injury), but you have to put that into the context of how many hours everyone has worked,” David says. “We have definitely done better than previous offshore projects, and I’m proud of our record.”
The most significant hazards are connected with lifting items weighing many tonnes, Steen says. The most likely accidents, however, have more workaday causes: tripping on uneven trackways, say, or cut fingers when assembling sharp metal parts. Whatever the hazard, the key is to spot it in time and work with everyone involved to find a safer way to do the job, David explains.
Steen’s thoughtful layout of the site has improved safety by rationalising the movement of people and materials, David says. Many of the operations traditionally carried out by cranes have been eliminated by using trailers to move heavy equipment around the site.
Another measure that has improved safety is the use of scaffolding platforms and mechanical “cherry pickers” for work above ground level. By reducing the need for ladders, this cuts the risk of falls.