Case: Safe working in Qatar
Boskalis improved its safety record yet again in 2014. NINA, the program focusing on raising safety awareness among employees and subcontractors, was one of the factors in that achievement. Every year, Boskalis takes on hundreds of large and small projects. The success of NINA depends, and will continue to depend, on how the safety program is approached and rolled out on all those projects. A good start-up meeting is an indispensable component of the
NINA program and it helps to motivate employees on the project and get everybody pulling in the same direction.
A special project
A ‘double’ start-up meeting was organized for the dredging work on the eastern coast of Qatar. This exceptional project involves deepening and widening a fairway over a distance of almost thirty kilometers, as well as building three islands, and the entrance channels to two of them. Preparations for the assignment, which will take more than one and a half years, started in late 2013. A total volume of more than 6.1 million cubic meters will be dredged and removed.
Challenging working conditions
Project leader Anne Jan Fokkema and his team are facing a major challenge. Most of the work consists of dredging extremely hard rock. The cutter suction dredgers Taurus II and Phoenix will be deployed on that part of the project, after being fitted out with the new cutter head developed in-house by Boskalis: the strong rock cutter. Despite this technical innovation, we expect to use approximately 150,000 pickpoints to remove the hard ground.
The major risks on the project in Qatar are the heat, and the possibility of fatigue as a result. ‘In certain sections, the pickpoints on the cutter head will have to be changed very frequently indeed. That means the working conditions will be tough. And particularly during the summer, when the temperature can hit 50°C, that can be a safety risk,’ explains Anne Jan. In addition, the daily crew changeovers can sometimes involve long travelling times. One of the
NINA rules is that we expect our people to arrive at work fit for duty.’
‘During the first NINA start-up meeting in Papendrecht, the Netherlands, we realized that a high level of safety awareness would be needed on this project, and that includes the people working for our sub-contractors. So we deliberately concentrated on formulating a general NINA goal that includes things like safe production by creating a safe and enjoyable workplace.’ We then decided to organize a second
NINA start-up session with the project staff once we arrived in Qatar. ‘The people who do the actual work often have excellent ideas for reducing the risks,’ says Anne Jan. ‘Getting them involved at the outset with dilemmas like this is an indispensable step in motivating them and ensuring that NINA is successful.’
Safe working conditions for all stakeholders
The question of how the broadly-formulated NINA objective would actually be achieved in practice was addressed in Qatar in early February during the more practice-oriented second start-up meeting. ‘During the course of that follow-up session, the captains and the chief engineers of the Taurus II and the Phoenix devised solutions together and made working agreements to cope with the challenging conditions in Qatar,’ says Amit Walia, a SHE-Q representative for Area Middle East. The session identified the main risks of the project, such as the heat, the crew changes (entering and leaving the vessel) and working in shallow water. Working methods and solutions were established and procedures developed to reduce those risks. ‘In consultation with the employees working on the project, we set up a beat the heat campaign that included a range of measures such as introducing a heat index, and instructions about when particular activities are no longer safe and have to be postponed. We also brought in cooling jackets for the engine rooms, and special supplements are handed out for putting into drinking water to prevent dehydration. ‘People were also encouraged to use SHOC cards (see
Safety) and the team also developed other concrete ways of working safely and pleasantly.
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