Safety first! Exchanging perspectives on safety’

A column by Bart Leenders and Frank Tazelaar, Managing Director & Director - Neste Oil & APM Terminals Maasvlakte 2

One of the most important common denominators for all companies in the port of Rotterdam is safety. Whether you’re a terminal operator or a refinery for renewable diesel; the same rule applies for everyone: safety first! Safety is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement. So how do we make sure we stay on top of our game when it comes to safety? By learning from each other. And not just from our fellow companies, but maybe even more from someone who works in a completely different branche.

Through a cooperation between the Port of Rotterdam Authority and publisher Industrielinqs we were approached to literally take a look through each others eyes* and see what we could learn from each other when it comes to safety. A project that Industrielinqs calls ‘Safety Buddy’. Since we both have our roots in the chemical industry and also share the challenge of building a new company in the port (NesteOil four years ago, APM Terminals Maasvlakte 2 right now), this is a very welcome and interesting encounter.

Frank Tazelaar: “It’s not a secret that the chemical I and oil & gas industry has a much longer trackrecord in safety improvement compared to container terminals and the logistics sector. After all, hazardous materials demand a climate of safety, because possible incidents seem to have impact on a much larger scale than incidents on a container terminal. For container terminals, the challenge is to segregate man and machine as much as possible.”  Our most important conclusion: even though the emphasis might be different in both sectors, when it comes to culture, technical systems and procedures both a refinery and a container terminal should operate focus on the same priorities. Because when it comes to safety, the most important factor still is the human being.

Bart Leenders: “one can never fully trust technique. For example: you can buy a brand new car with the newest high-tec build-in safety systems. If you let a ten year old drive it, the car will not be safe. Even on a brand new terminal where most of the work will be automated, there are still people involved at some level.” That is why it’s key to create a ‘safety culture’, starting at the top of the company. And ofcourse always look for opportunities to continue the improvement of this culture. This demands clear communication, not making it too complex, because everyone needs to understand the rules and regulations.

Frank Tazelaar: “Walking around on each others’ site, we talked a lot about how these dynamics work within our companies. We found it very enlightening to observe our own way of working through the eyes of someone from a completely different branche and professional background.” Bart Leenders: “It confronts you with questions and issues you haven’t thought about and gives you the chance to make use of someone else’s expertise. For example how to deal with safety when it comes to all the different truck drivers that enter our site. A question Frank could really help me with.” Frank Tazelaar: “the fact that Bart was in a comparable situation four years ago when NesteOil was established at the Maasvlakte, gave me some interesting insights on how to embed safety in company culture. But also very basic practical tips like ‘never put your hands in your pockets when you walk around on site’.”  

All in all an inspiring experience that we can recommend to all our colleagues in the port.

Change Your Perspective ‘switch’

*As part of the positioning and the accompanying campaign 'Change Your Perspective’ the Port of Rotterdam Authority challenges companies and people, both inside and outside the port area, to change their perspective by literally seeing the port of Rotterdam trough someone else’s eye. Two parties who pursue the same ambition, face the same obstacles or know each other only by name switch jobs for one day. This leads to new insights and creates opportunities. Do you want to change your own perspective and switch for a day with someone in or around the port of Rotterdam? Contact the editors for more information.

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