I ring the doorbell. The door opens, the person gives me a curious look. I clear my throat and introduce myself, saying that I do not come bearing good news.
Being the bearer of bad news for a colleague’s loved ones is something you never get used to, believe me. Perhaps this is the reason why I started believing safety was so important. During my 33-year career, I have seen various types of incidents and they always make an impact, no matter what. There were a few accidents at our campus again last year. The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) also released a critical report identifying the areas with potential for improvement at the Chemelot site. This ensured that many people, myself included, switched into accelerated action mode. By 2025, we hope to be the most sustainable and safest chemical site in Europe. Our ambition is to achieve an accident ratio of less than 0.1, which means we are aiming for less than one accident per 1,000 employees and contractors.
For the past five years, I have been COO and site manager at Brightlands Chemelot Campus. Based on my personal experience and, in the manner befitting a good “landlord”, I generated support for a comprehensive safety policy from the very start. It was quite a challenge in such a diverse environment. After all, so many different parties work and study at our campus, and they all have their own ideas about safety. There are the chemical companies with their strict safety norms, but also start-ups or students who are often much less aware of what can go wrong.
I’m not someone who enjoys wagging his finger, telling people what they can or can’t do. I think it’s much more important for us to be aware of the dangers around us so that we can understand the consequences our behavior can have and respond properly when something does go wrong. This is why we are working with the members of the Community Board and the Safety, Health, Environment & Security council to develop a comprehensive safety policy. We also have a code of conduct, a set of norms and values that make working at our campus safer. The idea behind this is that we want to take care of each other, and want to see everyone get home safely, each and every day.
Safety starts with making wise choices. Where on the property do you perform which activities? Which risks do these activities entail? Which events can take place on our campus? Safety is also a very important theme during the onboarding process for new companies and new employees. The importance of this cannot be overstated – after all, we are growing so fast! Our new access policy is designed to create awareness and provide people with a minimum foundation for self-reliance by ensuring they follow the instructions for obtaining their access code.
Twice a year, we pay extra attention to safety for one week. It goes without saying that safety is the central theme during these Safety Weeks. We organize the week in cooperation with the Safety, Health, Environment and Security Council to ensure that the voice of every company on campus is heard and that they are engaged. During the previous Safety Week, we introduced the collective campus norms and values. This time, the self-reliance of all of the campus residents will be front and center. During drills and exercises, we have seen that people are not fully aware of how they are supposed to respond in the event of a siren alarm or evacuation. This lack of awareness was also evident in the customer survey responses. This is why adequately responding to unsafe situations will be the focus of the next safety week from May 13 through 17. Most accidents may be attributed to human error. This is why awareness, thinking before you act, is so important. During the Safety Week, we will shed more light on this in a variety of ways. All of this is based on the concept that we are also only human, people who just want to get home safe and healthy at the end of their working day.
Luc Lanclus will be the COO at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus for just a little while longer. He hopes to start a new challenge soon in this world in transition with plenty of fascinating challenges.