Occupational health and safety
(103-1, 103-2, 103-3)
Occupational health and safety (OHS) including the protection of the physical and mental integrity of both employees and third parties are, from Alpiq’s point of view, values that must be protected at all costs. Alpiq therefore constantly strives to take all necessary measures to achieve this goal both for the Group’s own companies and for the minority shareholdings.
Management approach and assessment
As the majority of Alpiq employees work primarily in the office, a common management system for OHS currently does not exist at Alpiq at group level. The country offices, or the power plants that are operated abroad by their own personnel, each have a local OHS management system.
For the future, the country offices and power plants are also expected to cooperate more on this point; at the same time, harmonisation of a mutual approach is sought. For this reason, an overarching ‘Policy on occupational health and safety’ (Health & Safety Policy) was drawn up in 2021. At the same time, this expressed the commitment of the Executive Board more clearly. The policy was signed by Antje Kanngiesser (CEO) and Sascha Lanig (Head of HR) on 8 September 2021. It sets out the key principles that will guide the work of the coming years.
Management system for occupational health and safety
All management systems for OHS of the country offices abroad are certified according to ISO 45001.
Alpiq Wind Services in Bulgaria received a new ISO 45001 certification in 2021. In Italy, the scope of certification, which previously only covered thermal power plants, was extended to include renewable energy in the reporting year.
Other Alpiq business divisions, whose personnel occasionally carry out inspections on energy production facilities, draw up the occupational health and safety measures based on a non-certified management system or in accordance with the EKAS (Swiss Federal Commission of Coordination for Occupational Safety). For further details, see ‘Employees covered by a management system for occupational health and safety’ (403-8)
A large part of Alpiq’s operational management and maintenance is carried out by third-party companies. As explicitly mentioned in the OHS policy, their safety and integrity is a particular concern for Alpiq. For further details, see ‘Prevention and mitigation of occupational health and safety implications directly related to business relationships’ (GRI 403-7)
Hazard identification, risk assessment and incident investigation
As part of their general obligations, the employers in all countries in which Alpiq operates are required to conduct risk assessments regarding occupational safety and bear the overall responsibility for identifying, assessing and controlling risks. As a result, location- and technology-specific risk assessments have been prepared in accordance with the local regulations. Moreover, additional risk assessments are conducted with regard to interference risks with external companies, if necessary.
The risk assessments are prepared by competent persons who employ external consultants if necessary. The documents are regularly revised when new equipment, machines or production materials are introduced, when work processes change that could lead to hazards, or as a result of findings obtained from an accident or a near miss.
All locations report incidents and dangerous situations in line with the local procedures, which are defined in the respective management system. The general goal is to improve and centralise the reporting culture across the entire Alpiq Group, including the reports by workers of external companies.
All incidents, including near misses, are investigated. The aim is to determine the underlying causes and take corresponding corrective actions in order to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. For Alpiq it is important to note that the investigation of an accident is not intended to apportion blame, rather it aims to identify failures in the safety process.
The reporting year was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic again. Protection of the health of employees, in addition to maintaining the operational business, was always the absolute priority. All necessary protective measures were consistently implemented. Work at all power plants was carried out in line with the contingency plans and in compliance with the regulations enacted by the local authorities. Besides the usual hygiene regulations, additional measures were introduced where necessary: among other things, the strict separation of the teams, the mandatory use of protective masks with safety standard FFP2, the installation of devices for measuring body temperature or regular testing of the operating personnel. If the situation required it, events were cancelled or replaced by online conferences. For almost the entire first half year, employees throughout the Group who do not necessarily have to carry out their work at their actual place of work were required to work from home. This requirement to work from home was lifted during the summer months – but reintroduced at the end of the year in light of epidemiological developments.
The measures taken kept employee infections within narrow limits. The vast majority of infections were due to personal contacts outside of work.
Occupational health services
Health monitoring in Alpiq’s power plants is carried out by occupational health professionals in line with national legislation. In addition, managers must ensure that the general physical condition of employees is monitored and considered suitable for performing the respective tasks at the power plant facilities. For example, all affected Alpiq employees are required to undergo an occupational medical check-up for ‘Working at heights with risk of falls’ to ascend a wind turbine, even where this is not required by law.
At the nuclear power plants in which Alpiq holds shares in Switzerland, the monitoring and recording of radiation doses to employees is supervised by ENSI and is defined by the guidelines ENSI-B09, ENSI-G12 and ENSI-G13.
Employee training on occupational health and safety
Alpiq ensures that all employees receive adequate training on OHS topics.
The respective training needs on OHS topics are determined according to the specific hazards to which employees are exposed while carrying out their tasks. Training schedules are prepared per calendar year and based on the annual training and refresher courses required by law.
Employees with access to areas with increased safety classification, such as controlled zones in nuclear power plants are educated and trained accordingly. Without this training, access to these zones is prohibited.
In its endeavour to continually improve its safety and safety culture, the Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant opened in 2021 a High Reliability Organisation (HRO) Centre for educational and training purposes. This HRO training is obligatory for all power plant personnel as well as employees of the Alpiq Business Unit Nuclear Power Generation.
Prevention and mitigation of occupational health and safety implications directly related to business relationships
A large number of workers who are not employed by Alpiq work at Alpiq operating sites. As a result, contractors are carefully selected in consideration of the strict occupational safety criteria. Most have certified management systems for OHS. Where this is not possible, the activities under the aspect of OHS are particularly monitored.
In the reporting year, a workshop on the topic of OHS was held with several external workers who work at various Alpiq small-scale hydropower plants in Switzerland. The one-day event with a theoretical and a practical section aimed to sensitise the staff of third-party companies to OHS issues and to teach them the Alpiq standards.
At the nuclear power plants, the same SUVA (Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund) and ENSI safety regulations apply to contractors as to the power plant’s own employees. SUVA and ENSI are responsible for compliance and monitoring.
Employees covered by a management system for occupational health and safety
83 % of all Alpiq employees carry out office-related tasks (e.g. trading, finance, HR, law, communication). They mainly work in Switzerland, but also throughout the rest of Europe. These employees are not covered by a certified management system for OHS.
In Europe, 95 % of Alpiq employees involved in the operation of power plant facilities work in accordance with a management system certified in line with ISO 45001.
In Switzerland, operational staff in power plants are protected in accordance with the system of the Swiss Federal Commission of Coordination for Occupational Safety, EKAS.
In the reporting year, five workplace accidents were reported within the Alpiq Group. The reports are submitted by the national organisations in line with the requirements of the relevant local accident insurance companies.
An employee abroad was moderately injured in an accident on his commute that was not his fault. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical treatment was delayed, resulting in 100 days of sick leave. Otherwise, there were no serious work-related incidents in the reporting year.
Alpiq is currently not able to collect detailed information on accident numbers for operating personnel of third-party companies. However, Alpiq is not aware of any serious accidents at Alpiq facilities in the reporting year. In isolated cases, Alpiq is only aware of minor work-related incidents without any downtime.
This low number of workplace accidents reflects a high level of safety awareness. Alpiq continues to strive to keep the number of workplace accidents at least as low as this.
At the nuclear power plants in which Alpiq holds shares, there were no radiation doses to employees above the legal limits in 2020 and 2021. Further information on radiation doses can be found in the ENSI Radiation Protection Report 2020 (ENSI-AN-11075) and 2021, to be published mid-2022.