Safety first - It's in our DNA

Bilfinger employs around 36,000 people. For all of them, “safety first” is much more than a catchphrase. Occupational safety is a key component in our Mission Statement, corporate culture and everyday work

If there is one maxim that is paramount for mechanics, welders, scaffolders – basically, for all employees who work at industrial plants, on construction sites and offshore platforms – it’s this: safety first. But accidents can also happen in offices. That’s why we call the attention of our entire Bilfinger workforce to occupational safety on a regular basis as part of the Group-wide “SafetyWorks!” program.

Rules and proactive steps

All occupational-safety measures are founded on training courses. In terms of content, they start with the Life Saving Rules, our seven elementary ground rules that apply to all employees and executives throughout the Group. These rules are designed to sharpen awareness for potential risks. A broad spectrum of courses and instruction, which vary by sector and job, then build on these rules. They deal with subjects such as the proper way to handle personal protective equipment or hazardous materials. Occupational safety guidelines are uniform throughout the Group, with some purposely designed to exceed the respective country’s laws and requirements.

“Safety Moment”, published monthly, is another tool that brings home to staff the importance of occupational-safety matters. In “Safety Moment”, the Executive Board member responsible for Health and Safety or the division heads focus on a specific aspect where employees can contribute to enhancing safety in their day-to-day work.

We value Bilfinger as a reliable partner – not least because the company meets our high standards when it comes to safety and shares our values.

Nils Weber, Head of Production and Technichal Departments, Total Bitumen Deutschland GmbH

In-house competitions are an added incentive to further boost safety standards. Time and again, our employees pinpoint safety shortfalls and put forward suggestions for improvement. The Executive Board presents the annual Safety Award to units whose special ideas or campaigns help raise awareness for safety and lower the accident rate.

Outstanding track record

All these measures are geared to entrenching safety even more firmly in our corporate culture. And they are succeeding: numerous Bilfinger entities boast excellent statistics and have received accolades from customers for them. Most recent examples are Bilfinger UK and Bilfinger Industrial Services België/Nederland. The British company has recorded more than 16 million hours worked without a lost time accident; in the Netherlands, the 450 employees working at the Shell-Moerdijk facility have passed the two-millionhour mark without a lost time accident. Another unit with an excellent track record is Bilfinger Industrier Norge, which was recently honored as Contractor of the Year by Esso in Norway.

3 questions for Duncan Hall

Occupational safety is firmly established in our Mission Statement. What is Bilfinger doing to ensure the highest standards?

We are executing safety every day. Literally, “We Make Safety Work” by focusing on delivering the right behaviors that lead to the right results. Our commitment starts at the top with our senior leaders all spending time engaging with our personnel at their workplaces – whether this is carrying out a safety walk at a refinery, a “safety moment“ briefing in the office or sharing with colleagues the lesson learned from a near miss. All our leaders and first line managers know: their primary role is to demonstrate safe behavior and inspire our people to practice it every minute of every day. This focus on the part of our staff to make safety work is key to ensuring the constant vigilance needed to perform to the highest standards across the world in the varying industries in which we work.

To what extent do our customers benefit from this attitude?

It is a win-win situation. Working with like-minded customers is essential to driving performance improvement in both safety and efficiency, as these go hand in hand. Not only do we all have a corporate and social responsibility to keep our employees safe but a moral one as well – and our customers share the same outlook. A safe working environment and culture to build from is key to successfully driving incremental performance improvement.

Is a good safety record a competitive advantage?

Definitely! Safety is good business. When you deliver the right safety behaviors and results through multi-level engagement, you also have the time and data to improve effectiveness. The observations and feedback we get while interacting in the field show us firsthand the existing and emerging challenges our operatives face. By addressing these as part of a continuous improvement or lean process, we increase our effectiveness, making us even more competitive.

Duncan Hall has been Chief Operating Officer of Bilfinger and an Executive Board member since 2019


Published in issue 02.2019

Further articles from issue 02.2019

Sights firmly set on safety

“We make permits work” is the motto of Bilfinger’s latest  safety initiative. As the name implies, it focuses on the best way to handle permits. These are documents authorizing service providers’ employees to perform defined tasks on specific sections of a plant. The campaign aims to motivate employees not to merely rely on the information given in the permits; instead, they should check closely whether the requirements for working safely have in fact been met. The watchword here is: “Start safe – stop if unsafe.”