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"It takes time and effort to guide people and to implement the NINA culture."

Ben has worked for Boskalis since 2014 and has been involved in the MIA project from its inception in 2021. As a Safety Engineer, he has worked successively in the disciplines of Dredging Sand Supply, Dry Earth Movement and Soil improvement package, and is now part of the Marine Fleet Safety Support Team. "As a Filipino, I find it very special to work on such a dynamic project with great challenges and to make other Filipino colleagues part of the NINA program."

Benedict Arribas

'Teacher and student' culture
Ben has a lot of experience working with expats, but that is not true for everyone working on this project. "Cultural differences are a big challenge. As Filipinos, we are used to a 'teacher and student' culture. The teacher tells you what to do and then you follow. It remembers me of the early stages of my career during my safety officer traineeship at a different dredging company. At first, I hesitated to speak up and share my thoughts on safety matters. I felt intimidated by the seniority and perceived expertise of those around me. I thought it was my duty to unquestioningly follow instructions, much like a diligent student pleasing their teachers. One of the important lessons I've learned is that compromising safety for the sake of keeping others happy is not an option."
Ben explains that this is part of the history of the Philippines and is passed down from generation to generation. You can still see it in the workplace as a result. "Local workers see the foreign experts as the top of the hierarchy and are used to saying 'yes' or 'okay,' even if they don't understand. They are reluctant to speak up." Sharing knowledge and examples about safety as well as the scope of work is important but interacting and listening to each other is crucial. "Our role here is to be a mentor, coach and educator. It takes time and effort to guide people and to implement the NINA culture."

Ben shares many stories from his own experiences with local workers, like the situation with a worker in the early stage of the land platform operation that feld being just a ‘number’ when it came to addressing safety concerns or taking action. "I asked if he had tried to communicate his worries with his supervisors or superintendent, but he hadn't. He believed his voice wouldn't be heard. It was during the TOFS ("Time Out For Safety") session, which involved all the packages and was led by Package Managers, Works Managers, and the HSS team, that a significant change occurred. The same worker approached me once more, his demeanor transformed. He shared that they were receiving feedback on their concerns and that they felt heard by both the project operation and the HSS team. This shift in dynamics made them feel like valued members of the team, contributing to a project that would go down in history in the Philippines."
Ben fully understands that it is difficult for them to speak up to experts or higher superiors. "It takes time to get used to that." Ben explains to them that contact can be established even by having little conversations. "It took me years before I had the confidence to talk to someone regardless of rank or position. You have to practice."

Inspiring others
"The good thing is that you can see that something is happening." Whereas pre-start meetings, toolbox talks and presentations used to be completed in a short amount of time, they now take much longer. Local workers are now speaking up and voicing their concerns. "We discuss all issues together and come back to them as management with feedback. I see an increasing sense of: 'I'm part of this and important for the company, I feel my voice is heard'."

"One of the big advantages for me is that I can speak to them in the local dialects." Ben experiences being seen by local workers not as a regular officer, but as a Filipino Safety Engineer working with expats and inspiring others. "After the Workbox Hands, I was approached by one of the participants asking 'Can I take a picture with you? I will send it to my son that you are working here as a Safety Engineer. My son is studying to be an engineer, so I can show him that anybody can be on this level'. At that moment I inspired them and was able to connect safety to both their work and personal lives. Our goal here is to inform the local employees about the NINA culture. Not just during the work on the project, but also after. They can bring this culture home."

Not fit for duty resulting in a collision
At the time Ben was looking after the Dry Earth Movement, a collision occurred between two dump trucks. This accident happened in the last 20 minutes of the night shift. "They were about to finish the night shift." The dump trucks drove behind each other, with the distance between them initially being about 8 to 10 meters. At the next intersection, the rear truck began to tailgate. "During the hours before the accident, the driver was feeling sleepy already." The night shift was almost over; despite his fatigue, the driver continued to drive for a while. When the first dump truck suddenly had to slow down, the driver of the second truck was momentarily snoozing. "He’d just closed his eyes for a second. When he opened his eyes, he only had one or two meters between him and the dump truck in front of him. He slammed on the brakes, but it was too late. The first thing he asked us after the collision: 'Am I going home?'"

According to Ben, the best way was to involve the drivers and inform them why research was being conducted. "We told them that we are looking for the root cause and that we are doing this to prevent such an accident from happening again." The driver has now done a toolbox presentation on this and shared his own experiences. "He provided us with information about the underlying problem. That he should have told his superintendent that he was feeling tired, but that he didn't speak up because there were only 20 minutes left and he felt he should finish his job. Now the driver realizes it is better to speak up. He should not be ashamed of what happened, but he can prevent it from happening again by sharing his experiences. That you must speak up about safety concerns because it might cost you your life or that of someone else."


TSHD Oranje

Safety at sea: Safety Observer initiative aboard the Oranje

To elevate safety aboard the Oranje, Captain Marco de Bruin has implemented a new initiative by introducing the role of Safety Observer. The goal is to embed a deep sense of safety consciousness within the crew's daily operations. Each month, a different crew member steps into the role and actively contributes to the vessel's safety culture. To encourage continuous learning and sharing knowledge, Marco explains the purpose and aims of his initiative, while crew members Joel Yuzon, Rocell Cadampog and Gilbert Rojas share their first-hand experiences.

Safety Leadership Expedition Summit Dredging Vessel Teams

"A good captain or a good safety leader, or can I be both at the same time?"

“Let me introduce myself. I am Bouke Putter, working for Boskalis since 1997, of which the last 15 years in the role of Captain on the hoppers. In 2023, I started as participant in the NINA Safety Leadership Expedition which I completed on 14 December by doing my end presentation at the Summit session. Sharing my personal experiences and reflections was valuable for myself and the guests, and I therefore share my experiences in NINA at Work.“

Darius Macliver

"To address culture and safety, the first step is to understand culture."

Jasper Talle

"In order to proceed safely, we repeat the instructions together and reflect on possible risks."

Benedict Arribas

"It takes time and effort to guide people and to implement the NINA culture."

Samuel Hoganas

"Personally, I like to involve others and actively invite people to speak up."

NINA Launch Horizon Geosciences

NINA Launch at Horizon Geosciences

Early February NINA was formally launched at Horizon in the UAE. During a two-day event, management and employees came together to share their views on safety and set common goals It was the next step in NINA's implementation process which started with an inventory regarding the current safety awareness within Horizon and was followed by a Senior Management training based on the analysis of the inventory. This careful approach revealed a lot of similarities between NINA and Horizon’s own values and everyday practices. NINA definitely got a soft landing within Horizon.

NINA In Togo Benin

We do it together! Travailler ensemble!

If Project Manager Frans Thomassen was asked to put one motto on a sign, it would be: ‘We do it together’. At his current project, on the Togo-Benin border, this is called ‘travailler ensemble’. This shows in every detail: from the way the contract was set up to the communication lines with the local community. Report of a project with major challenges.

Chris Bos

“I am constantly looking around me at work. That is what I am trying to get across to the young guys.”

With his 40 years of service, Chris Bos can rightfully be called an old hand. Having started out as an apprentice diver, he has now been working as a Salvage Master for many years.

Robert En Rudy

"We make sure our employees are updated in decisions."

"If you do not share information, they do not feel part of the group/the collective. Their involvement has a positive effect on the whole project. As leaders we should be the initiators in this respect." 

Christian Rathkamp

Safety E-learning boring? You might be pleasantly surprised!

NINA is for everyone on our projects. To support that point of view the NINA E-learning is available for both employees and (sub)-contractors as well. Christian Rathkamp, DOCM at Boskalis Hirdes in Hamburg, recently finished it and shares his experiences. “I found it very good, because you did not have to worry about good or wrong answers. You could focus completely on the message.”

Glenn Raes

What is the real added value of a NINA Workbox?

When CLV Spirit had to wait for the installation of a platform at the Hornsea2 project, Captain Glenn Raes and OCM Arjan Ottink proposed to use this idle time for safety sessions. SHE-Q Advisor Ricardo Guedes came up with the idea to facilitate NINA Workboxes for both marine and project crew.

Greetincs Card Port La Nouvelle

NINA greetings from Port la Nouvelle!

SHE-Q Engineer Caroline Kannwischer came up with a brilliantly simple idea to connect people: she designed an old-fashioned postcard to celebrate 10 years NINA.

Mark Whiteley

In the spotlight: the rotation toolbox

How can we make our toolbox meetings more lively? That’s the question David Cuninghame, Project Manager at Subsea Cables, asked himself when working on the Ndeavor. He remembered an Australian initiative: the rotating toolbox. The idea is simple: you appoint a crew member to reflect on their previous shift. He then nominates a colleague to do the same at next day’s toolbox. The toolbox facilitator should still conduct their section of the toolbox to inform and discuss about the activities that are planned for the upcoming shift. The rotating part is foreseen as an add-in at the beginning to allow the group to reflect on their own previous shift.

Arjan Ottink

Bringing subcontractors into the ‘NINA flow'

Arjan Ottink, OCM, and Nick Troost, DOCM, took the new NINA E-learning course from home before starting work on the Triton Knoll wind turbine project. The project ran from June through November 2020, so right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. This meant the opportunities for coming together for a NINA session were limited. They found that taking the NINA E-learning course in advance was a good alternative.

Jan Tetteroo

It’s possible to inspire and energize each other online too

In January, Menno van der Ploeg, Director Projects at Boskalis Nederland and Jan Tetteroo, Assistant Foreman, took part in an online NINA Management training course. Its format and degree of interaction came as a positive surprise to both of them.