Unfortunately, it is still the case that some 200,000 industrial accidents occur in the Netherlands every year. More than 4,300 of these cases also involve (permanent) injuries.
The victim even suffers death sixty times a year. Safety in the workplace must therefore be an important point of attention. That this is becoming increasingly important is evident from all new certifications that are being introduced. Not all of these are mandatory. For example, there is VCA certification for work with an eye for safety, environmental and health risks that has not yet been made mandatory by law, but is increasingly expected from companies and employees. From 1 July 2020, everyone who works with central heating boilers must have compulsory CO certification. What can you do as a company yourself to ensure safety in the workplace?
One important tool to ensure the safety of people and machines in the workplace for the electrical engineering sector is through NEN training. NEN is an abbreviation of Dutch Standard. NEN standards are standards that help to guarantee the safety and quality of a method or material. Internationally there are ISO standards for this; NEN is a translation of this for the Dutch market. Working according to NEN standards is not yet required by law, but many companies do make this obligation within their business operations. Special NEN training courses, courses and certificates enable companies to learn to work according to these standards, with which they have an instrument in place to always guarantee safety in the workplace. An inspection of the implementation of the NEN standards includes a visual inspection and a check using measurement and testing. This inspection is only carried out by someone who has at least the NEN certificate “Skilled person” (VP).
Management must also be involved
As a manager you set the example for your staff. If the supervisor or manager walks the edges of it, employees follow the example set for them. That is why it is important that there is the right dedication from above. Having an eye for safety must also be emphasized in words and deeds. There are no exceptions to safety standards, so a supervisor should never be allowed to deviate from the standards. He or she must take the necessary measures when visiting the workplace, whether this is wearing safety shoes or a helmet. That is the positive approach. Unfortunately, a “negative” approach is sometimes necessary. If an employee does not adhere to safety standards, there must be consequences. In the first instance, an official warning may be sufficient. An example should be set for more violations.
Emphasize responsibility for others
Some people are not so concerned with their personal safety. That is no excuse for not following the safety regulations. Certainly not in a situation that also involves other people. As an employee in a risky work situation, you also have a responsibility to observe the safety of others. How people want to deal with themselves is not necessarily something you can change as an employer or manager. It is simply the case that people can live differently. But you can emphasize that one can also cause another suffering with irresponsible behavior and that this is absolutely unacceptable.
Protocols are there to be observed, but not everyone is able to know everything by heart. Sometimes the rules to be followed are too “fresh” to be imprinted, and sometimes they are too extensive and complicated to be remembered in their entirety. If employees have to take the books every time because they no longer know it completely, it is not beneficial for productivity. Therefore, the protocols that apply in many places should be easy to find. This is also an incentive for staff not to just do it the way they do to think that it has to be because there is no protocol nearby. Hanging protocols will probably be superfluous, but nobody will be bothered by that. A visual representation of the steps to take works best and fastest: one look at an illustration can already lead to an ‘oh-yes moment’ for an employee who has learned the rules, but no longer in his or her head completely lined up.