A bachelor in Safety & Security Management brought Elmer de Kruijf into contact with subjects such as safety, environment and quality. At an international oil company, he got to know the offshore world. He knew that was what he wanted and now he is working for Van Oord as a Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) coordinator. "This is the place for me, because of my background and this industry, but also because I knew early on that I wanted to work for a leading international company with Dutch roots." He now works on project contract awards and calls for tender. "Figuring out which customer requirements, laws and regulations apply and making sure they are met."
Elephant on the road
Van Oord's international character means the figuring out is not limited to the Netherlands. "Dutch legislation and regulations represent the minimum requirements, but because our projects can be global, we must also take into account additional requirements that apply in specific countries. For example, Brazil has strict environmental legislation specifying exactly what requirements a ship must comply with. We had to translate those requirements to one of our ships in an extremely short time. So when the local authorities came on board for an inspection, it was a pretty tense moment." The ship was given the all-clear and he is still proud of that. Apart from legal requirements, Elmer also catalogues risks, including the emergency response plan. "It is important to identify the risks and how you can control them in advance as far as possible. Because safe working is crucial." The fact that you cannot provide for every eventuality in advance is something he discovered in Africa. "During a project in West Africa, at one point the work was halted by wild elephants. We definitely had no experience of that. Fortunately, we always work with local colleagues and they knew how to deal with the animals." Every project has its own challenges, sometimes unexpected ones, but the bottom line is always clear. "People need to be aware of the risks and abide by the rules, procedures and agreements. My job as QHSE Coordinator is to continually emphasise the importance of that."
Still loving it
Elmer enjoys his work and finds it educational. "It really calls on my people skills. I have to deal with the whole organization, from the shop floor to the Executive Board in the Netherlands and with our partners abroad." That means being able to stand up for yourself, knowing what you are talking about and making sure everyone stays focused – in different cultures, at different levels and in different languages. He still loves working for Van Oord. "It's a great company. I am involved in large-scale projects and often in work activities that have never been carried out before. That really sets Van Oord apart – we simply go for opportunities like that. The question is usually not whether we are going to do something, but how."