The story of Conrad

Site Manager at A24 Blankenburgverbinding

'I want everyone to feel safe here. Always.'

Work safely, get home safely. That is our promise to each of our employees. Always. Everywhere. Everyone. We discussed this topic with Conrad Hordijk, Site Manager on the A24 Blankenburgverbinding in Rotterdam.

"It's Sunday morning when my phone rings. I am off that day, but construction is in progress. On the screen I see the name of one of my safety experts. Whenever one of them calls my heart rate speeds up. Could something have happened? "The trauma helicopter is on its way," I hear. I immediately get into the car. When I arrive at the construction site, I see a construction fence with a black cloth. The trauma helicopter is just taking off. Fortunately, my colleague made it through in the end, but he sustained permanent injuries that day. In my team I noticed the impact of the accident. The atmosphere changed."
I don't think I would be able to do my job again if that ever were the situation
Conrad Hordijk Site Manager Ballast Nedam
"I have been with Ballast Nedam since 1988. In those years I have learned and seen a lot. I got older and I even became a grandfather. This makes me think even more seriously about safety, leadership and responsibility. From my first day of work I have seen it go well thousands of times, but unfortunately it sometimes goes wrong. After a serious accident, as a supervisor, I visited colleagues in the hospital a number of times. I realized that he is also a father or grandfather, just like me."

"Serious accidents do not happen often, but when they do happen, I feel immediately guilty as Site Manager. The first thing I ask myself is, 'Have I done everything I can to prevent this? Did I give the correct instruction? Has my colleague received a good work plan? Were the proper work equipment and guidance there?' If I can say 'Yes' to all those questions, I can look at myself in the mirror. But if not? Then I would feel directly responsible for the accident. In fact, I don't think I would be able to do my job again if that ever were the situation. That wouldn't feel right."

The safest construction site in the Netherlands

"In the past thirty years I have been able to work on large projects on behalf of Ballast Nedam. In recent years I worked on the A15 Botlekbrug, the A9 Gaasperdammerweg and now the A24 Blankenburg connection. I still think my work is great, but I still have one ambition: to have the most beautiful, cleanest and safest construction site in the Netherlands. I now know how difficult this is, because it is a coming and going of subcontractors, freelancers, suppliers and specialists."

"I see my construction site as my shop. I want everything to be neatly in place, that people feel safe and that everyone knows how to get to their workplace safely. We have built walkways with street signs. In the dining area there is a television screen with photos that we are proud of. That is important, because safety is something you do together. And to really succeed in this, I think safety must be cool and sexy. And everyone must be on the same page. That is not easy."

I have one more ambition: to have the safest construction site in the Netherlands.
Conrad Hordijk Site Manager Ballast Nedam

The importance of a good conversation

"Since 1988 I have seen construction change. When I started, we were wearing sneakers. Hardly anyone had a helmet. Later we got safety shoes, a helmet and orange jackets. We are now walking on the A24 Blankenburgverbinding in an orange suit with safety goggles. As a team, everyone is responsible for safety on the construction site. We take care of each other and engage in conversation when we see that things can be done just a little better and more safe."

"As Site Manager I would like to take it to a higher level. Over the years I have seen how essential good preparation is. There are project engineers work planners in the project office shed who do their very best to plan and prepare everything down to the last detail. They do that very carefully. It is not the intention that people subsequently draw their own plan in the implementation and end up in unsafe situations."

"It is therefore important to have good discussions about this among ourselves. I said to my people that when we start new activities, we really take the time to explain it properly. We get together, grab a cup of coffee and discuss the activities calmly. That can take a while. Often even a discussion arises during the preliminary meeting, but it also ensures involvement. These conversations prevent people from getting started on their own. And if my colleagues do want to make a different plan, they will first discuss this with their site supervisor. I hope this will prevent serious accidents."

Safety awareness

"My safety awareness has grown because the impact of an accident turned out to be greater than I initially thought. The victim is not only the crane operator or carpenter. Victims also have family, friends and a football team… If someone can no longer work, then he probably can no longer do many other things in his private life."

"I cannot imagine that it could have been because I should have given my colleague a better explanation. That is why I want everyone here to feel safe and responsible for each other. And that I have always done my utmost. everything I can. If I can say that to myself, I will continue to enjoy going to work."

Safety at Ballast Nedam

At Ballast Nedam, working safely is of primary importance. Always. Because health is the essence of our existence. Because we believe that working safely is one of the pillars on which a healthy organisation rests. And because we care for each other. That is why safety is essential in every step we take. Always. Everywhere. Everyone.

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