The safety of the people who work for and with us as a core value

At Royal IHC, we take care of our people and are proud of our craftsmanship and values: commitment, partnership and innovation.
Safety is an important part of our craftsmanship and reflected in our products and way of working. Our goal is to ensure that everyone who works for us can return home safely every day. To achieve this, we are working together on a safety programme to create an environment that is physically and socially safe. Physically safe through the provision of a safe working environment on all our sites. Socially safe through the creation of the right environment to have dialogues on safety dilemmas.

We launched the company-wide safety programme in 2020 under the banner of ‘I create a right environment’ otherwise known as ‘I-CARE’.

The goal of the I-CARE programme is to provide a safe working environment so that everyone who works for Royal IHC, anywhere in the world, can return home safely after their shift. The basis for this is support, awareness and leadership. ‘With the I-CARE programme, we are building a proactive and learning organisation in which all employees take ownership and responsibility for safety. This is essential to achieve our ambitious goal of zero incidents together.’

Since 2015, Royal IHC has considerably strengthened the SHEQ discipline and safety management system. The company has used the ‘I work safely, or I don’t work’ programme to increase safety awareness. “After several years of a downward trend in work-related accidents with absenteeism, the number of LTIs rose again in 2019,” says Royal IHC’s Director of Safety, Health, Environment, Quality and Sustainability, Alexander van den Berg. “In response to this, we have introduced the I-CARE long-term programme with a multidisciplinary team. The name stands for ‘I create a right environment’ and emphasises that the programme is, above all, about culture and behaviour.”


I-CARE addresses five themes: leadership, training, partners, campaigns, and resources. The actions to be taken for each theme are mapped out on the I-CARE roadmap. “We have developed a supporting I-CARE compass that indicates the course to achieving a safe working environment,” says Alexander. “The starting point was an Executive Committee training course in Krimpen aan den IJssel where we brought the subject of safety close to home. Not only through figures and statistics but also with stories from our people in the workplace.

“This is how we empowered our leaders. Subsequently, we started a cascade in which they included their teams in the programme and the relevant training courses. Contractors and suppliers are also involved. They receive a monthly newsletter and are invited to workshops, training courses and webinars. We also initiated a Contractor Safety Steering Committee in 2020.”


Within I-CARE, both standard and customised training courses emphasise the safety focus for all disciplines. Alexander speaks about the ‘observing unconscious behaviour’ training course, which supervisors from Shipbuilding recently followed: “With this method, our leaders can effectively engage in conversations about (un)safe actions. We have also set up induction centres where all new and hired employees are immersed in the safety topic and follow relevant e-learning courses.”
The wide range of resources includes videos of employees describing how an incident affected them. This increases awareness of what such an unexpected event can mean for a colleague’s life and that of their family and loved ones.


“We have strengthened this foundation with a reliable incident management system, good reporting and the I-CARE app,” continues Alexander. “We have also made the safety manuals more accessible so that our people always have them at hand through the app. “Simultaneously, we are strongly committed to raising awareness of desired behaviours via focused campaigns that run for at least four months. We use toolbox meetings, events and supporting resources such as banners and posters to reach as many people as possible in a way that suits them. The first campaigns were about preventing accidents from falls, trips and slips, and safer working at heights.”


Shortly after his appointment, Interim CEO Gerben Eggink proposed giving the programme an extra boost. “This shows how important our senior management team considers the safety of employees,” explains Alexander. “As part of the I-CARE Wake-up initiative, we held safety assessments at the operational sites and all major projects. Safety stand-downs were also organised to devote attention to safety, training, hazards and fall prevention.”
Participants were asked to commit to safety for all, share ideas and develop their own improvement plans. This resulted in increased ownership across all areas of the organisation. After that, real improvements were visible in the results. In 2021, we will follow up this initiative with an objective safety ladder audit.


Safety must be an inseparable part of Royal IHC’s corporate culture. One of the biggest challenges is the so-called “grey area” in which people feel hindered from discussing how to do things safely. For example, how can we ensure that no-one is injured or has an accident? And should we temporarily close this workplace? It is natural to ask such things. Yet it requires courageous conversations in which colleagues may have to address potential risks and unsafe behaviour. Within the programme, we have trained colleagues to become I-CARE Coaches. They help colleagues to deal with such situations in the right way.


The ambition is clear: zero incidents. Alexander concludes: “We are on the right track, especially when you consider that 2020 was a hectic year with many projects and a great deal of pressure on the organisation. We realise that this is a journey and not a switch that you can turn on or off. It’s a journey in which we want to take everyone along who works for and with us, so that safety is at the top of each meeting agenda and everyone feels like a coowner, working proactively to prevent unsafe actions and situations.”