With respect to safety, Alliander's ambition is to ensure that everyone - our customers, colleagues and the parties we work with - returns home safely. We work hard every day to achieve this ambition, and to ensure that our customers have safe access to electricity and gas at all times. Working with gas and electricity entails risks to the health and safety of our employees, contractors and customers. Safety is therefore our top priority, and we make no concessions in this area.
How we ensure safety on the shop floor
Safety is a spearhead of our company's strategy. We want safety to be our number one priority, in word and deed. This starts with a safe work environment, which we create by ensuring safe installations and networks, for example. A safe infrastructure forms the basis for our work. Second, safety at work also means creating the conditions necessary for ensuring and monitoring safety. This includes offering safety training, improving safety equipment and performing safety audits and measuring our safety. In 2015, for instance, we organised 1,755 safety training sessions (2014: 1,653). Third, safety at work is about conduct. In our day-to-day activities, we need to keep a continuous focus on safety. We do so by preparing thoroughly for possible safety risks prior to each job we do. We hold each other for accountable for unsafe situations to keep each other safe. We work on being open and honest about incidents and near-misses, because this helps us to learn from our mistakes. This is the only way we can achieve our ambition of ensuring everyone returns home safely.
We measure our safety performance using the lost time injury frequency (LTIF) rate, which expresses employee safety as the number of accidents resulting in absenteeism relative to the number of hours worked. In 2015, the LTIF rate stood at 2.1 (2014: 1.5). There were 24 accidents that resulted in employee absenteeism. These included a number of serious accidents. In 2015, one technician sustained burns when carrying out electrical work at a water purification plant in Weurt operated by the Rivierenland Water Authority. The accident happened because he was asked to do work on top of the standard process, in the course of which an error of judgment was made. Other accidents include a serious accident at the Zuilichem regulating station, where a technician employed by a contractor sustained serious burns when he was hit by an electric arc. The investigation carried out into this accident revealed that at the time the employee was hit by the electric arc he was working in a part of the plant where he was not supposed to be, under the arrangements agreed.
In addition, we actively monitor the safety culture that exists within our company. We do this by periodically investigating safety levels at a part of our organisation. The method we use for this is based on the safety ladder, a measuring tool used at many companies that is based on a scale from 1 (lowest possible score) to 5 (highest possible score). Although the safety ladder is based on a scale of five possible scores, we calculate our precise score to one decimal place. During the year under review, our score on the safety ladder was 3.1 (2014: 1.8). Our objective for 2015 was a score of 3 or higher. In order to achieve this, our company has actively developed a safety programme.
How we help employees remain fit and healthy
We believe it is vital that our employees remain fit and healthy. To this end, we have, among other things, established the "Alliander Vitaal!" programme. In this programme, we attempt to identify the chief complaints at a local level and bring them out into the open. Each business unit identifies the themes to be developed and in which areas the biggest challenges related to keeping employees fit and healthy at work are to be found. These themes may be related to aspects of physical health (neck, back, shoulder) or mental health (stress-related complaints, work/life balance).
Among other things, we conduct periodical medical examinations to monitor how we are keeping our people motivated and healthy. We also actively measure absenteeism due to illness. In 2015, the employee absenteeism rate was 3.8% (2014: 3.8%). The average for our sector in the Netherlands is 3.5%.
Our aim is to help employees get back to work as soon as possible. In the case of employees with a long-term illness, a recovery plan is developed in conjunction with the employee. In addition, we also offer the 'Present' package in conjunction with Zilveren Kruis. This package includes interventions, workshops and training courses related to the management of absenteeism, reintegration and prevention (e.g. psychological care and physical support).