Safety on the shop floor has always been a high priority for Van Beek, but the recent awarding of the VCA* certificate (Safety Certificate Contractors ) has set off an unexpected yet positive chain reaction among employees. “The subject has become more relevant than ever before, everyone is more aware of working safely”, says Johan van Drongelen, mechanical engineer and prevention officer at Van Beek.
Van Beek has already been carrying out regular workplace inspections with risk inventories; risk assessment was already a regular part of internal safety management. However, this was not always officially documented, which is one of the requirements stipulated for holders of an VCA* certificate. It also forms part of a long list of key points and working methods regarding health and safety. The certificate, issued by TÜV Nederland after a stringent audit, is aimed at increasing awareness of risks and safety within a company in order to reduce the number of accidents. It took over four months of work to thoroughly prepare for the VCA audit. “We already had a lot of details on paper, but we still needed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, such as documenting a workplace inspection, for example. The same applied to risk analysis on site, where we had examined the floor to see whether it was sufficiently level to be able to safely position equipment on it or whether we needed to hire extra equipment. Until recently, this had not been recorded”, according to the prevention officer, who says that everything is now recorded immediately and stored digitally.
Alerts in dangerous situations
“Since we began preparing for the VCA audit, both safety risk awareness and employee involvement have increased. There is a shared sense of responsibility. Unlike before, employees now have the confidence to call each other and visitors to account concerning unsafe situations”, says van Drongelen. For example, even external employees are politely reminded when they have forgotten to secure themselves to a work platform; ideas which can make the workplace even safer are put forward during a workplace inspection, and proactive measures are taken to ensure whether a lifting sling needs replacing earlier than planned due to wear and tear. The periodic toolbox meetings are also gaining in popularity. During these meetings, guest speakers update employees on a particular safety topic, often focusing on tools and personal protective equipment.
Basic requirement from clients
The VCA* certificate not only makes employees more aware of safety risks internally. More and more clients are making the certificate a basic requirement, especially for high-risk activities. A company that is not VCA-certified runs the risk of missing out on a contract. Van Drongelen: “In the past, it sometimes happened that our employees were supervised by our client’s employees. Quite understandably, this sometimes met with some resistance, as it was not us but the client who was responsible. But, because we have now obtained the VCA certificate, the responsibility during high-risk work on site now lies entirely with Van Beek!”
Van Drongelen is proud of the fact that his colleagues are monitoring not only their own, but also other people’s safety: “The only thing we need to do is maintain perception, involvement and awareness among employees at a high level!”