In September, two people employed by a subcontractor were injured while carrying out work for Alliander in Amsterdam. During the work, the wrong electricity cable was cut, causing an arc flash. One person suffered serious burns, while the other sustained minor injuries.
Our ambition at Alliander is ‘everyone safely home’. This applies to Alliander employees as well as employees of external parties with which we work. That is why safety is a permanent priority throughout our organisation, from the shop floor to the Management Board. We do our utmost to manage risks wherever possible when it comes to technology, our work processes and our behaviour. Our aim at Alliander is to make safety integral to our thinking and acting in our operations.
Safe working environment
Alliander offers employees the safest possible working environment. During the year under review, we worked on a procurement process for new safety clothing and personal protective equipment so that our employees can continue to carry out their work in comfort and safety. Alliander also ensures that the people who work for us are fully aware of the role that safety plays in their work. Among other things, we introduced life-saving rules (LSRs) several years ago to prevent safety incidents. During the year under review, we reviewed these rules so that we would have unambiguous rules that apply throughout Alliander.
Exposure to hazardous substances
In our activities, the risk exists that employees may come into contact with hazardous substances. In 2018, research by Kiwa found that long-standing underground gas leaks may result in the surrounding soil becoming contaminated with benzene. When leaks of this kind are repaired, benzene could be released, and this poses a potential health risk. On behalf of all network operators, the Association of Energy Network Operators in the Netherlands carried out additional studies in approximately 150 places to gain an understanding of the extent of the risks and determine how the way we work on gas leaks will be affected.
Highly elevated concentrations of benzene were detected above the gas mains at 19 locations. A study was also carried out to determine whether employees working in places where a higher concentration of benzene has been detected are also exposed to benzene. This study found that the level of exposure is below the legal limit for benzene. As a result, network operators can repair gas leaks safely and responsibly, provided the right protective equipment and procedures are used. A special team informed employees about this at various locations. We are also investigating ways in which technicians can measure whether benzene is present in soil themselves. We will follow modified work instructions until a method for taking such measurements is available. The Association of Energy Network Operators in the Netherlands is working on a national approach to working on gas leaks involving benzene contamination.
In August, it became clear that paint containing hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) had been used on a number of TenneT’s high-voltage pylons. These include installations where Qirion employees work. The risk of exposure seems small, but when it comes to the health of our employees it is important to know which other assets have been treated with paint containing hexavalent chromium. In collaboration with TenneT, we studied the past use of paint containing hexavalent chromium on installations by retrieving information, carrying out exposure studies and conducting material tests using random samples. The pylon study revealed varied results. In some connections, all of the pylons that were studied had been treated with paint containing hexavalent chromium. In other connections, only some of the pylons had been coated with such paint. There were also some connections in which all the pylons were free from hexavalent chromium. The initial results of the study are helping us to define procedures to enable colleagues and contractors to safely work on installations where paint containing hexavalent chromium has been used.
Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF)
Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF) expresses the number of accidents resulting in absenteeism per 1 million worked hours. The LTIF of 1.4 for 2018 was unchanged compared with 2017. As the LTIF is an indicator that shows past performance in the area of safety, it not possible to influence the level of this indicator directly. The level of this performance indicator is indirectly affected by all the safety-related measures that Alliander has taken in recent years.
Number of recorded accidents (including accidents resulting in absenteeism)
We periodically measure safety levels at seven of Alliander’s operational business units. The tool we use for this purpose is the safety ladder. It helps us to improve awareness and behaviour relating to safety within our company. In 2018, 38% of the business units were on target, achieving a score 3 or more on the safety ladder. Such a score indicates that safety is considered to be important within an organisation. This score cannot be compared with the score for 2017 owing to a change in the definition used.