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Long-term work continues to create an effective safety culture in connection with the handling of bitumen at depots and asphalt plants. Both investment and training are required in order to achieve success.
Before each new surfacing season, Nynas conducts careful reviews as an element of its objective to improve knowledge of how to handle bitumen in a safe way.
“As before, we’re continuing to work with inspections of delivery sites, to meet customers at start-up meetings and to review what a good delivery site should look like. Ahead of this season we’re also raising the minimum requirements,” says Shadi Tentak, Distribution Manager, Nynas Bitumen Nordic.
This means that a delivery site must meet six requirements before unloading can take place. These are:
It is primarily drivers who are exposed to risks, and the challenge is to make sure that under all circumstances no one comes into contact with hot bitumen.
This is at the top of the agenda for employees of the transport company Josef Lindberg AB (JL). JL started to deliver bitumen for Nynas in 2008 from the depot in Sandarne to asphalt plants in Northern Sweden, occasionally to Norway as well. They now also take care of transport operations from the depots in Nynäshamn and Holmsund.
“Safety awareness in the industry has been improved step by step. The requirements are more or less the same now as they were 15 years ago, the major difference is in compliance,” says the company's CEO Bo Zetterman.
This is evident not least out at the asphalt plants.
“Most manufacturers have renovated their unloading facilities with suction pumps and a separate hose, which reduces the risk of hose breaches and spillage. There’s also a significant environmental gain, as tankers don’t need to stand with their engines running during unloading.”
Before a new bitumen season, Bo Zetterman and his colleagues have their hands full planning all the deliveries.
“The major challenge is the dependence on the seasons. Vehicles and personnel have to be deployed in May and phased out in the late autumn. In March we deliver no bitumen at all, while in June we have to have 26 rigs, including personnel who must have completed training in order to meet the requirements specified by Nynas.”
How are the drivers prepared?
“We hold start-up meetings in April. As well as reviewing customer requirements and safety equipment, current incidents are analysed in order to raise awareness among personnel. In the summer we hold a follow-up meeting to pick up new incidents and let experienced drivers coach new ones.”
JL has also introduced web-based non-compliance reporting, with a focus on feedback and follow-up, as well as updating the GPS system with the location of each individual vehicle.
If we extend the geographical perspective to the UK and Western Europe, we can also see a positive trend there when it comes to safety and the work environment. This is the belief of Paul Lamb, Nynas UK&WE HSSE Manager and Chairperson of the industry organisation Eurobitume’s Safety Task Group.
“In my view, knowledge and awareness is growing from year to year when it comes to the Product Suppliers and Aggregate companies that operate asphalt plants,” he says. “The Eurobitume Safety Task Group and the Eurobitume UK HSE Committee review and monitor safety incidents within the industry, while at the same time are looking for best practice with regards to the safe handling and delivery of bitumen products.”
And specifically for Nynas?
“Within Nynas UK&WE we have close collaboration with our customers, and a long time ago we developed a ‘Partnership in Safety’, based upon the safe handling of bitumen.”
Another important initiative is the Safe Bitumen Delivery Presentations that Nynas gives in the UK, as well as inspections of unloading sites with reference to the minimum requirements specified by Eurobitume. This has contributed to increased awareness of the safe handling of bitumen for just over 900 employees of Nynas’ customers.
“During this year’s season we’ll also be conducting inspections of unloading sites at our customers in the Western European markets where we operate,” concludes Paul Lamb.
A new version of the Nynas guide “Safe bitumen handling” will appear. The new format makes it easy for employees to have with them at the asphalt plants and in the tankers. The guide contains important information about health, safety and the environment, as well as transport, loading and unloading, and how bitumen is stored.