For Innergex, upholding the most rigorous health and safety standards goes far beyond simply complying with the legal and regulatory requirements. Its priority is the safety and protection of its employees on every Innergex site from coast to coast.
In this respect, the Company has adopted an Environment, Health and Safety policy and management system that formalize its commitments: maintaining a healthy and safe environment for employees; complying with laws pertaining to the protection of employees, the public and the environment; evaluating and taking into account the potential impacts of its activities; as well as minimizing or avoiding these impacts. Innergex also formalized the importance of its employees’ commitment to and responsibility with respect to this policy. The Company has made great strides in implementing procedures and processes to supervise, guide and monitor its health and safety performance.
“Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
Martin Brosseau, Manager – Environment, Health and Safety
While the corporate objective is always to target zero occupational injuries or incidents, the people in charge nonetheless remain clear and transparent: “Other than driving, the highest accident risk that people face in their lives is generally at work. Not only that, but a work-related accident would probably have the greatest immediate consequences for them – often permanent ones,” says Martin Brosseau, one of Innergex’s Health, Safety and Environment Managers. “We’re not in a high-risk sector, but it’s important to recognize that a workplace accident, when it comes to operations like ours, can have serious consequences. We operate heavy machinery and work with high-voltage electricity and huge volumes of water, often in challenging weather conditions, which makes it that much more important to have strict processes, a structure that works, and health and safety standards that are absolutely clear.”
Given the rapid growth of the Company, Innergex also implemented a formal, structured occupational health and safety management system. It is modelled after the BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management standard, which is a recognized model for occupational risk management and prevention systems.
With this framework, the Company is not satisfied with simply complying with the applicable laws and regulations, but wishes to adhere to very high standards. “We have to do more because we can’t provide the same level of supervision as in a factory. Our internal standards are very high. For example, we have voluntarily implemented an extremely strict confined space entry procedure,” said Martin Brosseau.
Innergex has to cope with many different challenges on a daily basis. The Company runs power stations remotely and the operators work in distant locations, often alone or in isolation. While employees are properly trained and have all the tools they need to work safely, the fact remains that part of the follow-up is based on trust, since it is not possible to supervise their day-to-day work. “That’s our biggest issue,” says François Hébert, Senior Vice President – Operations and Maintenance. “Our employees shouldn’t just follow the procedures in place, they have to take ownership of them. Our standards must not be perceived as an imposition or an added chore. They have to be integrated as naturally as possible into our work habits and how we do things. That’s our ultimate goal, that our employees take ownership of their own safety.” Thus, the Company ensures that it provides all the essential training, support and follow-up that its people need. Employees are integral to this process, since they are the ones responsible for applying the measures and complying with procedures.
“Health and safety is more than a legal requirement, it’s a moral responsibility.”
Steven Kynoch, Manager – Environment, Health and Safety
Implementation of the occupational health, safety and environmental management system involves 23 elements, 75% of which are currently in place. In 2015, Innergex will develop and deploy the system’s remaining elements. Afterwards, the Company plans to move from deployment to monitoring. This will consist of evaluating the performance of the management system and ensuring continuous improvement in this area. The goal is to have the system tested and proven as Innergex begins to move into new markets.