In the world of VEKS, the notions in QHSE are converted into quality, working environment, safety for internal and external staff members besides environment - understood as VEKS’ environmental impact outside the physical estate.
The reason why VEKS focuses even more on the QHSE function is that the means focus, management, education, documentation and procedures ensure that we reach our target which is no work accidents at work, to prevent work-related sufferings and demonstrate responsible impact on the surrounding environment. At the same time, focus on quality and health go hand in hand with VEKS’ new general strategy development (please see Case 1) and forms an independent strategy project.
To ensure increased quality and clarity in the environmental management, VEKS has appointed two QHSE employees to focus on environment and working environment.
But has the environmental management and working environment just been on the loose in VEKS? Previously, the tasks within working environment have typically been managed by external consultants managed by VEKS’ environmental and working environment organisation which has existed for many years. Thus, quality, environmental impact and working environment are not new functions, however, personnel-wise VEKS has been under pressure due to lack of time in-house and has therefore primarily made use of external competences. With this type of organisational structure, you live with the risk that project management, knowledge and experience are not sufficiently documented and integrated – also among VEKS’ own employees. And what do you do if the external associated consultants change jobs?
Moreover, the development in VEKS within the last five years have clarified the need for having in-house competences. In short, appointing staff members for the many QHSE tasks which multiply in terms of number and extent – not least due to the new business areas within production (Køge CHP Plant and VEKS Gasmotor, Solrød) and distribution (Køge and Tranegilde District Heating).
Our own people offer a greater overall view in a world which is both becoming more complex and yet interconnected... For instance, there are procedures for chemical spill which primarily relate to the working environment and the environmental impact. However, at the same time it also has an influence on the reputation of the enterprise.
(Furthermore, working environment is the theme of this year’s photo series where a number of VEKS employees illustrate several aspects of protective equipment, everyday safety, etc. – within the three business areas of VEKS.)
“It is so troublesome now. It was easier before” A very common reaction from the staff members involved. When the target is no accidents at work, it both requires measures and inspection. The Danish Working Environment Authority is the supervisory authority relating to working environment and can stop the work at any time leaning on the law. Focus is workstation assessments (APV) for both office and workshop. In recent years, the psychological working environment has been put on a par on the legislative front with the physical working environment.
However, the municipality is supervisory authority when it comes to the external environmental impact – primarily in conjunction with Køge CHP Plant. And also in connection with VEKS’ transmission which spreads over 12 partner municipalities and thus their respective 12 municipal supervisions.
If the enterprise decides to be environmentally certified, the enterprise will follow the standardised procedures and norms. Often, it will signal so much order in-house that the attention of the supervisions is almost rendered superfluous.
When VEKS affiliates new external staff members e.g. in connection with servicing projects, a contact person from VEKS will always be offering the required safety introduction. Unfortunately, in other working relations the world outside has found it difficult to get the right environmental or working environment person as they varied from project to project. Today, the job is handled by the QHSE employees – or their superiors. The cooperation with partners and the authorities thus becomes more structured, flexible and rational.
Throughout the years there have been rather few – and only minor – work accidents in the world of VEKS. Improved prevention requires improved procedures and thorough documentation. And yes, there is a lot of paper work but it contributes to the documentation of the fact that the rules were actually observed. The approach is, however, pragmatic. In VEKS papers should never be filled in just for the papers’ sake.
Apart from the more streamlined organisation on the outside, QHSE work will result in a more uniform quality, environmental and working environment requirements in agreements and contracts with suppliers.
The practical work
First priority in the QHSE work has been to prepare getting Køge CHP Plant environmentally certified. A certification which includes several dimensions: To plan, carry out and measure – and not least improve.
In the real world this means that all important environmental conditions are mapped so the most important focus areas can be separated. And most important of all: Explain why! The improvement culture is essential in all environmental management systems: For instance, if acid by accident ends up in the sewer, the extent of the damage must be explained and it will also be documented that it does not happen again. Typically, with new measures and procedures.
The focus of the actual environmental certification of Køge CHP Plant is on air emissions, water consumption and the use of chemicals e.g. in leaching solutions and acid. In 2017, the environmental objectives for Køge CHP Plant are:
- Measuring the energy efficiency: In 2017, the annual energy effect of the CHP plant will be improved by 0.5% compared to 2016.
- Registration of water consumption: In 2017, the raw water consumption/steam production of the CHP plant will be improved by 0.5% compared to 2016.
- Integrate more environmental requirements in the contracts – probably also for VEKS Transmission.
The ambition is that Køge CHP Plant will be certified pursuant to environmental management system 14.001 in 2018. As regards VEKS Transmission, this has already been obtained.
Is it a management system? Is it my system? In VEKS, we have organised the new features so they are close to where the work is carried out. There is no theorist sitting on the third floor setting out new procedures far away from the real world. Above all, a good and safe environment and working environment are the objectives for the Management as well as the staff members. If new rules and procedures are to be prepared, the affected staff members will therefore often be involved directly in the process. Such involvement will often result in mutual learning and not least integration. Sometimes new rules require a necessary change of culture. Perhaps, “we used to” is no longer the optimal solution concurrently with new requirements and systematisms. In VEKS the words of the certifications and standards are spiced up with a flexible, pragmatic, involving and rational approach to promote the working environment, safety, health and minimise the environmental impacts.
- VEKS works actively on protecting the environment and to prevent pollution, including exploiting the resources in the best possible way and to obtain CO2 neutrality.
- VEKS undertakes to observe any legal requirements and other requirements within the environmental area to which the enterprise determines to sign up.
- VEKS undertakes, on an ongoing basis, to carry out improvements of the enterprise's environment management system and environmental performances, among other things by way of their work with environmental objectives.
- VEKS works continuously on influencing our cooperative partners in an environmentally friendly direction.
VEKS prioritises the environmental work based on the following principles:
- A considerable reduction of the environmental impact
- Development of the employees’ environmental consciousness and skills
- Improvements which at the same time offer savings
The initiative should result in continuous improvements by reducing the negative environmental impacts and prevent pollution in VEKS by way of:
- Eco-conscious behaviour (new work routines)
- Reconstruction of plant (cleaner technology)
- Changes of products and processes (substitution)
When selecting technology and product and process changes, the best suitable technology will be selected considering the financial limitations.
VEKS ensures openness regarding our environmental performance so VEKS is portrayed as an environmentally conscious business among the partners. Moreover, we a have close dialogue with the environmental regulatory authorities.
The environmental policy sets out the frames of the environmental work to be carried out. The policy is made operational by way of environmental objectives which we work towards by means of action plans.
The employees are informed about the environmental policy and its consequences as part of their education and training.
Adopted by VEKS’ Board of Directors on 26 April 2018