1. You have been responsible for occupational health & safety at Mochovce, Slovakia since 2009. What are the HSE specifics for a nuclear power plant?
I have been working on the completion process of the Mochovce Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 3 and 4 since 2009, occupying the position of Site Safety Coordinator for the first two years and as of 2011, I have held the position of Health & Safety and Environment Manager for the whole completion process. As concerns the project, it is a site like any other; however, only until the time of nuclear fuel loading. From that point, the construction site becomes a nuclear facility with a number of special measures to be adopted.
From a scheduling point of view, the transfer phase of the construction site to a nuclear facility is drawing near. Comparing the completion process of a nuclear power plant with other construction projects is possible in terms of Occupational Health and Safety management. At this point, we do not find that large of a difference. The main difference lies in the fact that the completion process neighbors directly with the operation of the nuclear power plant, and any eventual incidents could also have impact on the operation of the nuclear power plant, which is unacceptable.
It is therefore very crucial to remove all such hazards from the completion process. The next difference in comparison with other projects lies in the number of measures being applied during the construction process which are related to the future safe operation of the Nuclear Power Plant (at the moment under construction). This whole process is regularly supervised not only by the SR Nuclear Supervisory Authority but also by institutions such as WANO and IAEA, which thoroughly take into account all activities with regard to the future operation.
2. Slovenské elektrárne, a subsidiary of Enel, has set the safety of workers as the most important priority during the completion of Mochovce Power Plant Units 3 & 4. What specific steps have been taken?
Slovenské elektrárne as well as Enel take safety as a priority during all activities performed, with extraordinary value placed on the health of workers. The Safety Management Process on the MO34 Project has been adapted to this idea. This process has been incorporated right from the beginning during the procurement process, including observance of HSE requirements as one of the requests to be fulfilled by the applicants. Even prior to the start of activities, we, as the owner, place all the requirements, defined in a contractual manner, upon our contractors along with the possible imposition of penalties.
Trainings represent a significant tool implemented in the performance phase. These have been developed at an excellent level. Just for information, during the completion process, there were 32,925 persons retrained during the induction trainings until the end of 2015. During the periodical and special trainings, 29,963 persons were retrained through 2015. Our attempt is to make the trainings as practical as possible, i.e., organized directly on-site.
Another special key activity concerns, of course, inspection activity carried out with “Zero Tolerance” for unsafe behavior. Just for this purpose, Slovenské elektrárne hired 50 HSE Specialists with Safety Supervisors making up half of this number. These Specialists spend 80% of their time in workplaces defined in advance. For the last two years, the Supervisors have identified and corrected almost 10,000 shortcomings. This system helps us to minimize exposure to hazards to the shortest time possible. All findings are recorded and evaluated using a special tool called “Construction Safety Indicators”(CSI Mochovce). At the same time, methods of positively motivating workers are also important, with disciplinary tools on the other side as well. Unfortunately, as time has demonstrated, in Slovakia the disciplinary system is more effective when compared to positive motivation and rewarding. Last but not least, communication plays a key role. For this purpose, we do conduct a number of accompanying events and communication campaigns on a regular basis. The goal of these campaigns is to change the thinking of workers on-site from “I have to” to “I want to.” It is, however, a long process and time is the only aspect we are always missing.
3. Zero Accidents. Is it achievable?
I have worked for almost 15 years In the construction field and during this period I can say, based on my practical experience, that if we look at what contributes to the “0” accident rate, I can state that a company with “Occupational Health and Safety in its blood” is able to define an effective system that is capable of functioning a long time and is able to achieve the “0” accident rate. The question is, however, until what time, since there is always a prevailing hazard of individual failure influenced by factors for which there exists no effective prevention.
Even in our completion project, after effectively functioning for six years without any severe accident and after approx. 40 million man-hours, a person died on the construction site. The father of a one-year-old daughter did not come back home. Even despite the fact that during the investigation process no violation from the side of Slovenské elektrárne was proved, the fact is that a person died in our project and this must never happen again. After this tragedy, we realized even more how important is to consider, without any compromises, the behavior of workers at the site. All workers have to understand that the consequences resulting from the violation of rules are much more severe than any perceived benefits resulting from the violation. I do not in the least reject the “0” as a goal. If you want to be the best, you must set your goal at the top level and then it is crucial to do the best to meet that goal. If by accident something fails, the effort shall then be even redoubled.
4. Your work experience includes also supervision over the observance of rules related to OHS at a trade center as well as an automobile factory construction site. What were the biggest challenges?
As a Safety Coordinator, I had the possibility to supervise the construction of a KIA car factory, a Peugeot Citroen plant expansion and the construction of a large business center. From the point of view of performed activities, however, all these sites were a little bit easier since even though large industrial halls with high numbers of workers were concerned, their centralization in common workplaces was not as high as during the completion process of the nuclear power plant, where in comparison, in one building alone more than 800 workplaces are established with more than 2,000 workers working in the building overall. The strain on the coordination of activities in common workplaces is quite different. Also, the advantage of the previous projects lay in the similarity of hazards, which rotated between particular construction phases.
On the other hand, in such a complicated construction site as a nuclear power plant, all hazards are possible at the same time, only spread between the other construction sites. I judge all these projects – KIA, Peugeot and SONY – as extraordinary successes as they were completed without any injuries. After the fatal accident in Mochovce, my highest and only goal is for all the workers to return home so that they leave no empty space. I know that every injury can be prevented and we do our maximum to achieve this goal.
5. If you had to name the top 5 qualities of an HSE leader, what would they be?
My personal rules are as follows: diplomacy, empathy, strategy, analysis, theory, courage, decisiveness and resolution.
6. You will be speaking at our 10th Annual HSE Excellence Europe Forum. What other session or activity from your fellow speakers are you most looking forward to?
I do like the HSE Excellence Europe conferences very much. It is mainly a great opportunity to gain information from colleagues – the top specialists, with a place to share good practice.
In nuclear energy, sharing of positive as well as negative experiences is very important and this conference is practically built on sharing of good practice from the real-life experiences. And of course, since this will be the 5th time for me, I do count a number of friends among the attendees who I meet with pleasure every time. What do I expect? As always, a professional approach, excellent organization and also knowledge supported with several material sources for my practice.