WORK IN PROGRESS

‘We look after each other’

Safety in the Gemini way

Two weeks after the financial close of the project, Jed Mawson joined the Gemini team. He has had a good two years since then. Living weekdays in an apartment in Amsterdam, this is his home away home in North Yorkshire in the UK. ‘It’s nice to be part of the city. You get to understand the mentality of the people, riding the bus and buying groceries in the supermarket. It’s another culture and this way you learn a lot about it. Which is also useful when you’re working in the Gemini team. This is my first Dutch wind project and the first Dutch organisation that I’ve worked in.’

 

‘The important thing is

that people feel good in the environment in which

they’re working.’

 

Already with a lot of experience with the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms, Jed started working on Gemini when the actual physical building of the wind farm took off at full speed. ‘A project this large wasn’t new to me. I’ve worked on other wind farms in the North Sea, close to Gemini. In 2010, I was involved with operations & maintenance for Siemens, so that company wasn’t new to me either. That came in handy since Siemens is one of our main contractors.’

 

Hearts and minds

The basic principle of all Health & Safety qualifications also applies for Gemini: ‘Don’t hurt people in the workplace. That’s the overall objective.’ Starting from that point, there are specific demands due to the fact that the wind farm is built offshore: ‘You get to deal with offshore survival, working at heights and rescue, fire awareness. On all those aspects, our workers have to be qualified. You can’t be there without it. Health & Safety has to be etched into the hearts and minds, throughout the whole organisation. It’s about the mindset to stay safe. That applies to us, but also to our contractors. Everybody needs to think that way.’

 

Considering that Gemini is his first wind park in the Netherlands, Mawson is happy with the progress: ‘We work in a good atmosphere. The collaboration is good, there is a common understanding of where we are headed with Gemini. Our contractors appreciate the emphasis that we put on safety for all. We’re all driven by the same goal: to guarantee a safe project.’

Jed Mawson is the HSSE Engineer with Gemini and is responsible for Health, Safety, Security and Environment. It’s an important ‘package’, since the North Sea is an inhospitable place to work. We ask him about HSSE in Gemini’s everyday operations. ‘Right through the whole organisation, the mindset is for everyone to be safe.’

Safe by choice

The minute a vessel leaves Eemshaven, heading out to the wind farm, the well-being of the workers is in sharp focus – and remains there. Jed explains: ‘From the moment we leave the shore until we get back, there’s the potential to get hurt. In the transfer itself, because the sea is rough or when there is an emergency situation with the transport vessel. And once you arrive at the wind farm, a lot of other things can happen. Climbing up the turbine, but also inside the transition piece.’ Respect for every worker’s safety and well-being is essential: ‘If someone is seasick, we don’t force them to go to work. We leave the decision with them; that way, the ownership stays with the workers – all the time. They own their own safety and we respect that. Safe by choice, that’s the Gemini slogan.’ Another key element is the trust that is placed in the teams that go out to work: ‘We’re not there to supervise. There aren’t even cameras; that wouldn’t be right from a position of trust. So it’s all about being happy in the environment that you’re working in and knowing what to do when something goes wrong. Our job is to make sure everyone is confident; about themselves and about the others in the team. In Gemini, we look after each other.’

 

Radio contact

The use of modern-day technologies helps to keep up this standard at work. For example, it’s vital to know where the individual teams and workers are located. ‘We use radio contact to make sure everyone signs on and off. And our system of work permits is also very important in that respect. Both onshore and offshore: no one gets to work on a Gemini site unless they have the correct work permit.

 

 ‘Safety on Gemini

is a team performance,

a collective good.’

 

These permits are issued by us every day, digitally. They state who the people are and what they are doing that day. I must say, that was the biggest change we made for our contractors. It was a challenge, but now that everyone can see that it works, it’s no longer a point of debate. The proof is there.’

 

Collective good

Although Jed is not there physically to watch over everyone, he gets useful feedback through so called ”safety observations”. ‘That way, the contractors are feeding us with their experiences, no matter whether they’re positive or negative. And we encourage this by rewarding safe working results every month. Not on an individual level, but for everyone – in a spirit of inclusiveness. So if there are no incidents or accidents and the number of safety observations is up to par, we reward the whole team. Safety with Gemini is a team effort, a collective good.’

 

The lessons learned from this phase of the project are not lost as Gemini moves forward, Mawson assures us. ‘As more and more turbines are installed, the building of Gemini becomes “smaller” as a project, but the operations & maintenance phase gains in importance. It is our job, working behind the scenes of the operation, to make sure that continuity is secured. There will be some risks, also in the next phase. It’s up to us to handle that knowledge in such a way that the wind farm will remain a safe workplace for the next 25 years.’

 

Health, safety and environment on Gemini: one of the common threads throughout the operation. Both onshore and offshore, the well-being of all the employees is a priority. They look after themselves and each other. An important team performance and a collective good.