"I WANT TO GET EVERYONE ON THE SAME SIDE."
On the Markerwadden project (North Holland/Flevoland), project leader Bart van Asperen finds that his vision of teamwork is defined in part by his high safety awareness.
“I feel responsible for the safety of the ‘small’ team, the Boskalis team, with which we are working on the project. This also extends to the ‘big team’ of contractors and clients. And even to the visitors who will come bird watching here in the future,” says Bart van Asperen.
How do you mean?
“We are raising nature islands here with walking paths built around them. The client thinks visitors will also be able to walk on the islands themselves. However, we told them from the beginning that although a crust will form on the sludge, it will not be strong enough to walk on. There is a risk of getting stuck. I would take it very hard if I read in the paper a few years later that someone had died here. I don’t want that on my conscience.”
In this way, Bart experiences how deeply rooted the NINA philosophy has become. “I want to get everyone on the same side, because when you agree about the risks you can work together to take good control measures.”
How do you go about achieving that?
“Within the ‘small’ team, we discuss safety in our weekly meetings and hold toolbox meetings. I want to create openness so that people come to me when there is an issue. And if they do, I make sure that something comes of it. That’s how you create trust. That is the basis in your own team, and also in the relationship with the client and any other parties. We have to gain the client’s trust in our expertise and sincerity. That takes time. And you do need a bit of ‘luck’: for instance, during an exercise rescue workers got stuck in the sludge themselves. Now the client understands our concern better. We are now thinking proactively about the possible ways to inform visitors about the dangers.”