Safe working practices
Working safely during the COVID-19 crisis
After the outbreak of COVID-19 in February, the government took action in line with advice issued by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) on the basis of the number of infections, hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths. Alliander has always closely followed the guidelines. Some of these measures have an impact on our daily lives and on how we do our work at Alliander. The activities of the network operators are considered to be part of vital infrastructure. Practically all our work could continue without delays. Given the increase in our work package and looking ahead to the future, this was extremely important from a societal perspective. As an employer, Alliander has a duty of care to protect its employees against the virus while they are working. Various changes were introduced so that colleagues could continue to do their work.
Alliander has complied with the measures implemented by the central government and RIVM since the outbreak of COVID-19. To make everything clear for everybody, we produced an Alliander COVID-19 roadmap. The roadmap has been assessed as part of the risk assessment and evaluation that we carry out under the Dutch Working Conditions Act. Furthermore, several other specific measures have been implemented to limit the risk of physical or mental complaints due to COVID-19.
Alliander complies with the national ‘Samen Veilig Doorwerken’ protocol, a set of safety instructions designed to ensure safe working practices. This protocol sets out clear guidelines on working safely during the COVID-19 crisis, not only for the construction and installation sector, but also for residents, clients, customers, suppliers and all employees. It also indicates how work can be carried out safely in people’s homes. The exact approach to the work that is to be performed depends on each individual case and may vary from one network operator to another. The main priority is to keep vital infrastructure running and ensure that work activities can be carried out safely.
A safe working environment is a prerequisite for a safe infrastructure. We work according to 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 informs employees as effectively as possible about the role that safety plays in their work in a number of ways, such as the Life Saving Rules. These rules provide clarity and consistency when it comes to safety and are aimed at preventing safety incidents.
Exposure to hazardous substances
In our activities, there is the risk that employees may come into contact with hazardous substances. From a study conducted in 2018 by testing institute KIWA it emerged that gas escapes can result in soil becoming contaminated with benzene. We have since drawn up new work instructions aimed at protecting employees. At the instruction of Netbeheer Nederland, an action plan for avoiding benzene contamination was drawn up in 2020.
In 2018, it became clear that coating containing hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) had been used on a number of TenneT’s high-voltage pylons, Since then, we have investigated where chromium-6 is present in our assets. Stricter working instructions apply to the activities relating to these assets. Employees can access information stating where chromium-6 is present and what precautions should be taken.
We work in accordance with our asbestos policy at Alliander. Asbestos is still very common in our sector and poses a serious risk that needs to be handled accordingly. To tackle this, the network operators employers’ association in the Netherlands (WENb) and Netbeheer Nederland have collaborated to draw up a sector policy that complies with the latest legislation and regulations. As a result of this national asbestos policy, all network companies work according to a uniform policy. This is useful because it provides clarity for both our own employees and the employees of contractors or metering companies that work for us.
Impact of environmental issues: PFAS
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is the collective name for thousands of man-made substances that do not occur naturally. If the concentration of these substances in soil is above a certain level, measures must be taken and the soil may not simply be transported, dumped or used on land. This complicates all sorts of earth-moving activities. Alliander always works carefully during earth-moving activities and has implemented internal precautionary measures with regard to PFAS, such as the soil sampling procedure to test for PFAS in order to protect employees working with soil.
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 2020 was 1.8, which is an improvement relative to the LTIF in 2019 (2.1). Last year, there were no major safety incidents involving electricity and gas.