Safe working practices

The challenges presented by the energy transition put safety under pressure, as the safety risks are increasing due to the growing amount of work, the high work pressure and the drop in average experience levels of technicians. To be well prepared for this, the transition to a safer way of working was initiated in 2022 and we continued to build on this in 2023. It means that we are improving our existing safety system and the safety structure and training, and we must ensure that safety becomes an inherent part of our behaviour. Everyone should also feel responsible for contributing to this. The safety transition focuses on three key aspects: safety controls, broad safety expertise and safe behaviour. 

Aggression at work

Colleagues were subjected to aggression more often in 2023. The number of aggression reports more than doubled: from 19 in 2022 to 53 in 2023. We have seen instances of customers physically attacking colleagues or visiting our offices to demand an explanation for their situation, which in our view is completely unacceptable. Any type of aggression has a major impact on colleagues and their families. We are focusing on improving the registration of incidents and supporting colleagues through training to handle increasing external pressure. We have also set up an aggression help desk and installed emergency buttons at reception desks. People can be reported to the police in case of an incident. Whether this happens depends on the circumstances of the case and on what the employee wants to do. The employees in question and their managers are supported by colleagues from the legal department.

Personal safety

The Central Employee Barometer shows that 86% of employees view Alliander as a socially safe workplace. However, 6% of our colleagues indicate that they experienced inappropriate behaviour last year, like abuse of power, bullying or discrimination. These cases often remain unreported, unlike cases of aggression or violence.
For the first time, our employee satisfaction survey included questions about experiences with inappropriate behaviour by customers or passers-by. People experienced inappropriate behaviour and aggression in some parts of the organisation. This appears to be a social trend, which has a major impact on our colleagues. One positive thing is that a third of those involved address the customer or passer-by themselves and one in five colleagues report it to their manager. The new ‘Through Different Eyes’ intervention can help people learn to recognise such situations and teach bystanders what they can do.
The number of times people reported situations to confidential advisers increased to 83. We are happy that people are becoming more willing to report situations and contact confidential advisers sooner. Efforts by confidential advisers in 2023 to improve this included organising information sessions. During the Integrity Week in December, our programme included a topic regarding the value of confidential advisers. 

Working voltage-free

Sometimes we need to work on a system under power, but this may lead to unsafe situations for our technicians. We have therefore tightened our policy: from now on we will always work on systems that are not under power, unless we really have to, e.g. if the risk of social disruption is high. It is impossible to predict every single situation with major social impact in advance, which is why an assessment framework was prepared that distinguishes between ‘urgent necessity’, a ‘grey area’ and ‘no urgent necessity’. We accept that working whilst not under power may reduce the speed at which we work and that this may cause dissatisfaction among our customers.

Safety controls

The risk assessments and evaluations of all of Alliander’s organisational units were transferred to a central system in 2023. Thanks to this new method, we now have a complete picture of all the safety risks of our work and the associated control measures. We will also be using this risk register to record new safety risks, which guarantees that every employee can perform their work safely and passes on the importance of working safely to colleagues and contractors.

Broad safety expertise

Last year we improved safety levels further by ensuring that all employees follow the mandatory training on time, including instructions for first-time visitors, VCA and life-saving actions. In addition to this, we centralised tool testing and calibrations to ensure that technicians have access to the right tools in a timely manner and without having to interrupt their work. We organised another Safety Week in 2023. During this week, employees were recognised for their special contribution to working safely. We also provided training on safe behaviour and on how to handle safety dilemmas at work. The energy displayed by colleagues for working safely in a safe environment is huge. Incident Review Groups of executive parts of the organisation are used to assess incident reports adequately. Behavioural safety specialists have been appointed and we have set up a knowledge platform that provides insight and frameworks on which steps to take to safeguard and further improve our safety culture. The knowledge platform is also the place where employees share best practices and can learn from one another. One part of this is safeguarding professional skills during the selection, onboarding, education and training of our employees. We started preparing a safety leadership programme for managers in 2023.   

Score on the Safety Culture Ladder 

Alliander attained level 4 on the Safety Culture Ladder in 2023. KIWA visited 20 projects during 18 audit days and spoke to 80 colleagues from operations and 40 management and staff colleagues. Level 4 indicates that safety has priority throughout the company and investments are constantly being made to raise safety awareness. Employees are encouraged to challenge each other’s unsafe behaviour. Improvements are structurally introduced and evaluated. Forward thinking is applied and initiatives are taken. Consciously working safely is experienced as someone’s own responsibility: ‘What can I contribute?’ This form of behaviour is highly valued. 

Employees film ‘Veld 11’ safety video

In order to raise safety awareness further in our organisation, we made the ‘Veld 11’ safety video on the initiative of two employees in 2023. This video, which is intended for colleagues, shows in an impactful way how important safety is and what the possible consequences of incidents are for employees and the people around them. The video encourages employees to listen to their intuition, to express any concerns they may have and to take responsibility when it comes to safety. In addition to the video, a discussion guideline has been developed for teams to talk about safety after watching the video. You can watch the video on YouTube.

Safe behaviour 

Working safely is not limited to our own organisation; it also affects our supply chain partners, contractors, suppliers, customers and local residents. A total of 122 incidents involving injury occurred in 2023, 80 of which occurred in our own organisation, 22 at contractors and there were also 20 incidents where 20 passers-by were injured. We are responsible for implementing measures to prevent accidents involving employees, including those of our supply chain partners, and passers-by. A new incident reporting system allows structural registration of incidents and near-misses involving supply chain partners and passers-by. In addition to this, we endorse the Safe Energy Networks Governance Code. We also evaluate and discuss incidents in the Contractors Platform. The purpose is to learn so that we can improve our work processes and continuously increase safety at work.

Primary process certification 

We view it as our responsibility to ensure zero accidents and minimum environmental impact. Each year we order an independent institution to investigate whether we have adequate processes, working methods and systems in place for this. The audits are conducted based on the international ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 standards. Alliander was granted recertification in 2023 without any nonconformities.

Lost time injury frequency and accidents with/without lost time

Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF) expresses the number of accidents resulting in sickness absence per one million worked hours. The LTIF in 2023 was 2.0, which is higher than the LTIF in 2022 (1.9).

In 2023, most lost-time incidents occurred in situations involving crushing, hitting or cutting. We also noticed that falling and tripping are key causes of lost-time incidents, followed by road traffic incidents. Within the category of potentially dangerous situations, the increased number of wrongly cut cables is striking. New cable selection training has been prepared for all technicians and foremen. They are required to complete this once every three years. It also turned out that switching in low-voltage networks is still often done while under power, even if switching power-free was also possible. This was therefore made mandatory in 2023.

Lost Time Injury Frequency1
  • 1The standard time allocation used to calculate the LTIF was changed from 1,800 to 1,600 hours to match others in the sector, so the LTIF values for previous years were recalculated.
Number of lost-time accidents
Number of accidents with no lost time