Significant steps

Published in category: People

Over the last few years Damen has taken significant steps to take its health, safety, environmental and quality standards to the next level.

HSEQ performance is high on the corporate agenda and following the continuous improvement programme most of Damen’s 32 ship and repair yards have now been certified with the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series OHSAS 18001. A company-wide supplier code of conduct has been put in place covering health and safety matters.

As well as this, the Damen HSEQ team has expanded considerably

With a background in offshore and marine contracting, Marcel Keus, Damen HSEQ Manager, joined the company in September 2014. The company has also worked closely with the Dutch government’s ‘Social-Economic Council’ to develop guidelines for international risk management and a HSE Committee has been established, which is chaired by Damen CEO Ren Berkvens.

Now it is time for another big step, Laure Jacquier, HSE Team Lead explains. A policy plan has been established for the entire Damen Shipyards Group, whereby all production yards are expected to be certified against the three main industry standards – ISO 9001 for Quality, ISO 14001 for Environment and ISO 18001 for Health and Safety. Further to this programme, Damen will move on to comply with ISO 14064 regarding CO2 Emissions and ISO 26004 for Sustainability. Although all production sites and engineering companies are preparing the ISO compliance developments at their own discretion, focus from the Group is applied towards the headquarters and largest shipyards: Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam, Damen Shipyards Changde in China and Damen Shipyards  Galati in Romania.

However, Laure stresses, it is not a case of having the certificates on the wall, but about getting a management system in place ensuring the control of risks. “For example, OHSAS takes a year at least, if done properly.”

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Global HSEQ standards
“Damen is working on a uniform HSEQ policy as we are still expanding rapidly – at the last count employing nearly 9,000 people! Now we are working more and more on a global scale and this has to be reflected at policy level”, says Marcel. “A uniform policy has to be in place, while leaving room for the local legal and cultural specifics.

“Damen is well known for its standardisation policy and we, as well as clients, expect to have the Damen standard applied no matter where a vessel is built in the world. The next logical step is to consider standardisation of not only to the product, but also the processes.”

Applying the corporate policy is made a lot easier by the fact that Damen is a family company. “Even with 9,000 employees, there is a strong sense of a family culture,” he says pointing to the enormous ‘One Family’ poster outside HQ.

“There is a duty of care for people of course, but there is a strong corporate value that is much more effective and shows that all employees are part of the family; not just another employee number. And this results in an enormous sense of pride.” Working at Damen really makes a difference.

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Co-makers on board
This also goes for all the subcontractors who are known as ‘comakers’ at Damen. “Our co-makers have to be on board too. The safety and quality culture is evident from management to the shop floor. There is a willingness to take the next step and learn from other industries such as the offshore sector.”

In 2014 several HSEQ initiatives took place. The ‘Damen Safety Week’ was held worldwide; this year, the theme was working at heights. An ‘Offshore Day’ took place for the first time and was attended by management and key people from the production team. Two partners, Bluewater and Mammoet, presented their take on themes such as safety in the chain of responsibility.

A ‘Subcontractor Day’ also took place; several co-makers were invited to talk about safety issues. Laure says: “We are continually aiming to improve and, by coming together, we can learn from each other.”

Marcel points out that this initiative has already led to some very positive results, with a key subcontractor asking Damen if it would like to contribute to their HSE plan. “It is essential that we align our views and go forward together.”

Energy efficiencies
Regarding new environmental developments, Damen is measuring the carbon footprint of several yards and developing specific energy saving plans for each one. “This gives us insight into where energy is used the most and helps us to identify potential to reduce consumption and make efficiencies.” For example, LED lighting has been introduced in the production halls, which give four times the illumination with a fraction of the energy costs.

Whether it’s about incident management, corporate reporting, travel security policies or LED-lighting, Marcel has a clear vision: “Being an innovative company Damen has to be at the forefront of ship building industry standards – sharing the same values, using the similar principles where possible and learning from each other – the combined system has to be aligned in such a way that we can meet the expectations of our customers. Of course, all this is not achieved overnight, but, and this is crucial, the journey is just as important as the destination.”