When a new member company joins GWO, an onboarding process begins to help align safety practices with established, global standards. We report on The Nordex Group’s plans which include merit for up to 500 working at height certifications.
Nordex is one of the world’s largest turbine manufacturers with more than 25GW of installed wind power capacity and 5,500 employees in 40 countries.
Heads of QHSE for Europe and Northern Europe respectively, Marko Ladehoff and David Goodfellow offer a frank explanation of their decision to join the collective. “The visibility of GWO as an industry standard has been growing and the large utilities and developers expect a certain level of training. Many had asked us if we were GWO members,” explains David. “It made sense for us to join because we were already using GWO standards in many locations and now we can influence the training standards to include our requirements rather than just be a recipient of them.”
Several member benefits were attractive to Nordex, especially the opportunity to collaborate with other companies in the wind industry and share best practice. “We see a huge benefit in being able to access the knowledge and experience of other GWO members,” says Marko. “We also believe we have a lot to contribute to raising standards in the industry. HSE has no borders.”
Already active in global forums such as the VDMA in Germany and Safety On in the UK, Joining GWO is another way of showing their commitment to safety standards across the whole industry. “This can’t be done by one company alone,” says David Goodfellow, “It has to be industry-wide and collaborative.”
Another motivation for joining GWO was the portability and standardization of GWO training which streamlines the process of checking competencies as employees and subcontractors move between companies and countries. “Being a multinational company with a highly mobile workforce, the portability of GWO training is a great benefit. Someone with a GWO training will be accepted at a site in any country, simply by validating their record in WINDA, so it removes the need for a big admin process to verify competencies across countries,” explains David.
Safety is given the highest priority at Nordex and this filters through the entire company. Nordex takes the approach that safety isn’t just a matter for the QHSE department, it concerns every single employee across the business. Safety is an overall company objective and a high-level key performance indicator and everyone is expected to contribute.
One novel initiative at the Nordex Group is to begin every meeting of one hour or more with a report on safety, including Lost Time Incident Frequency (LTIF) data and examples from the field of prevention activities or near miss incidents. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Finance, HR, Engineering or Project Management meeting, if it’s one hour or longer, attendees get an HSE update.
Meanwhile, safety communication at Nordex is always kept engaging and fresh. Face-to-face communication from managers is prioritized as often as possible and multimedia communication such as surveys and videos are also used when appropriate. The company recently adopted a monthly “walk and talk” initiative where managers are available for informal HSE conversations - making this a regular part of working life rather than an activity confined to audits or checks.
Since 2014, the Nordex Group has shifted away from purely reactive reporting of incidents to a culture of prevention, where proactive risk reporting allows for advance screening to take place. This has had a dramatic influence on preventing incidents and it shows in the numbers; at the time of writing, Nordex’s largest factory, manufacturing nacelles, has been LTI free for more than eight months.
The company also puts a big emphasis on positive messages based on motivating people to protect themselves and keep safe rather than on negative messages such as avoid danger and harm. While this approach reflects a trend in HSE, Nordex’s campaign tugs the heart strings in a unique way.
The slogan “Safety is not a program - it’s about heart,” has been a group-wide message for Nordex workers recently and this is illustrated by a poster campaign, evoking an emotional connection to staying safe and getting the most out of life. “The key is to inspire positive motivation instead of using fear with images of unsafe situations or disturbing injuries,” adds Marko.
Returning to the GWO onboarding process, David and Marko confirm that Nordex will be investigating the potential for around 500 employees to merit their existing training with GWO standards, starting with the Working at Height training module.
This will be done with support by GWO who will provide technical assistance in matching existing training to the standards, using the Gap Matrix Tool. Workers who meet the requirements for merit will be awarded a GWO record and those who require a top up, will be given a short gap training.
“It’s a pleasure for us to be GWO members, says Dr. Marko Ladehoff, “‘Safety first’ is our philosophy, we are very passionate about this and it’s what we live by. We’re looking forward to getting fully onboard with GWO and to working with other members to continuously improve and show the world that the wind industry takes HSE very seriously.”
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The programme will have particular relevance to workers in developing offshore wind areas, where transition from oil and gas is a key policy priority for governments.