Health and safety is at the core of everything that we do. As part of World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we spoke to our people about their experiences of health and safety and what they think about the health and safety culture that we foster at Natural Power, all led by David Armour, our director of HSEQ.
Health and safety results in less incidents, better levels of production and better staff retention
“While working in the renewables sector, I have experienced times where I would say the health and safety performance was good, and times where it wasn’t. I think the industry has now recognised this and is really taking ownership of health and safety.
“When I started, health and safety departments were often only called upon when things went wrong, and sharing health and safety information between companies simply didn’t happen. Now health and safety is integrated throughout many businesses. Health and safety practitioners openly share their knowledge between companies, and I think this knowledge sharing has prevented incidents and has been vital in delivering our projects safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think the biggest “breakthrough” in safety is the recognition that the workforce needs to be involved in the planning stage: they have the knowledge and are best placed to provide the answers we need to get the job done safely. The benefits of effective health and safety management are evident. When it is done right, our workforce is better informed, equipped, more comfortable at work and, as a result, happier. This often results in less incidents, better levels of production and better staff retention.
“I am also looking forward to other industries becoming involved in the sector and sharing their views, knowledge and expertise. I believe that our industry is becoming more ambitious, more technical and, as a result, has potential to become more hazardous. If we look at the case of offshore wind, many of the new entrants have the experience that the wind industry needs to tap into to deliver these projects safely.”
David Armour, director of HSEQ
Health and safety across Natural Power
“Unfortunately, in my previous working career, I was witness to very serious safety incident of a fatality and a resuscitation all at the same time. Ever since then, I try my utmost to reiterate to colleagues ‘if it’s not safe, then do not do it’ – stop. Nothing is worth the risk, and life is precious. It may be a multitude of small things that lead to an incident, so it’s inherently important that one takes care of themselves and of others at every juncture.
“Natural Power works with good systems and provides training with extra layers of official and industry rules for working on wind turbine generators and associated HV. There is also frequent paperwork to complete, including when carrying out tasks throughout the day.” Most importantly, we have a good reporting platform for all near hits, observations and incidents. It’s important that at every opportunity (no matter how mundane), systems are there to be followed with every effort made to identify the risks and mitigate their impact. If everyone feels comfortable in their work, health and safety becomes second nature, and work can be enjoyable and, more importantly, safe.
“I find the working culture in the renewable industry to be professional. There is no room for complacency; everyone has a part to play. When things go well, let’s concentrate on that and work toward a safe environment at all times, ensuring that good habits are ingrained and foremost in everyone’s rhetoric.”
Fraser Dyer, operations associate
“The health and safety culture of [Natural Power’s] North American organization is one that is positive and focused on continual improvement. We are in the process of implementing a new, comprehensive HSE program, and we will continue working to improve as we move forward. Our management team is committed to fostering a culture of prevention, though we have some room to grow to, where our whole team is engaged and a part of that culture.”
Valerie Marquis, senior project engineer - turbine technology
“It is abundantly clear to me how important the health and safety of Natural Power’s employees is regarded within the organisation. The robust policies not only make me feel safe when I’m working in the field, they also give my family piece of mind that I am well looked after. This feeling of safety also makes me feel valued as an employee and creates a positive impact on morale throughout the workplace.”
James Blaikie, assistant environmental consultant
“Health and safety is about good communication, keeping the working environment safe and providing safe systems to work in. This provides protection for everyone within the company. Health and safety allows individuals to report observations or unsafe acts. Quarterly meetings across all departments allow for issues to be addressed and resolved by good planning and strategies. With better health and safety comes better overall safe systems of work and a better working environment. We strive for continuous improvement of procedures.”
Ryan Ben el Hassan, wind turbine technician
“The message that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and that every one of us is trusted and expected to act on that responsibility, is well communicated by the business. The value of knowing that we all are empowered to make sure our work environment is safe should not be underestimated. For me, this is particularly relevant for our staff who regularly conduct work offshore.”
Stuart McCallum, associate technical director - offshore
I think there is a strong health and safety culture at Natural Power, with greater awareness of staff and more substance behind our statement of “health and safety is at our core”. Any discussion from our service teams or within the construction or Planning and Environment departments features health and safety topics and discussion, with many staff members open to sharing ideas and suggestions for making our procedures, or those of our clients, safer.
David Tidhar, head of emerging markets
“It is evident that safety is paramount within the business, and I feel safety is always prioritised. This in turn makes employees feel safe at work and while out working. Nonetheless, there is also a large focus on the importance of not getting complacent and ensuring that time is still taken to recognize the hazard(s) and that appropriate steps are taken protect ourselves and fellow workers.
“My impression of safety [at Natural Power] is that employees are made to feel that they are supported when voicing any concerns should they feel control measures are not adequate or conditions safe. This is something that is critical within the Asset Management department with the type of high-risk work that is carried out. As one of the asset management safety representatives, the Health & Safety Committee meetings give employees the opportunity to raise any concerns and contribute to change for the safer and the better.
“As a side note, I think it’s also important to mention that we as employees have also recognised the support for mental health and wellbeing, as well as safety. This is something that is especially important with the current ongoing Covid-19 situation and associated uncertainty.”
Ellis Shewan, asset management support assistant
“For me, Natural Power is all about our people delivering to our clients, so the health and safety of those people is key. For the Planning and Environment team, our key safety concerns focus on travel to site, and then often remote and lone working when we are there. These topics are always on the agenda during our monthly department safety group meetings.”
Chris Pendlebury, director of planning and environment
“I joined Natural Power after a lengthy career as a rock-climbing instructor and wind turbine technician. All my roles were very health and safety orientated. When I started to understand the safeguards in place at Natural Power to for safety, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I started to learn the systems that we use to log observations, near hits, incidents (SAI 360/HSEQ Team) and the process the ControlCentre undertakes to ensure the working party on site holds approved RAMS, authorisation, certificates and even gives a call to an individual if they overstay their estimated departure on site. I believe this is outstanding practice and feel privileged to be a part of it.
“The team I’ve joined are all participating in my development and building me into a safe SAP/Control Person. Safety is the most important aspect of our work. As a father of two, it’s at this point in my life that I truly understand and value every measure we take to be as safe as possible. I think we can all look back at our lives and remember a situation we, or someone close to us, have been in a situation where things could have quickly become disastrous quickly. Health and safety has come a long way over the years, and I can see that Natural Power are leading from the front.
“Safety to me means ensuring everything is done within our power to ensure that everyone is safe and can return home to their loved ones at work’s end.”
Jonny Boucker, wind farm manager