Shell gives Mercon excellent rating on bitumen storage tanks
By using a behavioural safety programme, Mercon was able to complete a project without incident and ahead of schedule.
In less than five months a new bitumen storage tank was built at the Shell Nederland Raffinaderij’s
TGI plant in Pernis, the Netherlands.
Construction took place during Q3 and Q4 2011. Since the tank was built in a live environment,
safety was of the utmost importance. To meet this challenge designer and constructor Mercon used
a fixed tower crane with special safety features instead of a mobile tower crane.
The project started at the end of August 2011. The original deadline for mechanical completion
was 1 February, but Mercon was able to bring this forward to before Christmas. ‘This is quite an
achievement in view of the season, says Piet van der Nol, project manager at Shell.
On 25 January, after the water tests were carried out, the tank was delivered to Shell. It is a steel dome roof tank, which is 13 metres high with a diameter of 32 metres. Its capacity is 10,500m3 and the tank is provided with a heating coil. The design temperature is 250ºC.
‘We were able to achieve this by making sure an interpreter was present at the site to solve any
language problems,’ Ralf van der Meij, project manager at Mercon explains. ‘All working and
safety instructions were available in Dutch, English and Russian, and we made sure all materials
arrived just in time from our yard in Gorinchem.’
24/7 safety system
Shell and Mercon decided to apply the 24/7 safety system to this project. The goal of this is to
change the behaviour of people and to improve the safety culture. Research shows that 96% of the
accidents in our sector are caused by human behaviour. Holding on to working instructions and
procedures is therefore not enough. Personal involvement and the will to respect the rules agreed to,
are the starting points.
The focus of the programme is to create the right behaviour suitable for the particular job. A second
point is to improve the intervention skills of the management. As a last point the programme
addresses how to deal with feedback after an intervention.
The 24/7 safety system is different from other safety programs as it also addresses the positive
behaviour of the workforce. Management and workforce strive together to achieve continuous
In this project Mercon had its 24/7 safety card available in three languages. Each day, the project
supervisor, together with the HSE manager, checked the cards and signalled topics that needed to
be addressed. The cards have space for extra topics. If topics did not need any more attention, they
were removed at the end of the month and replaced by new ones. Cards were also available for
workers, so they could come up with safety issues as well.
All 24/7 safety cards and HSE inspections reports were incorporated in a monthly safety analyses.
The topics on the 24/7 safety cards were evaluated and trends were analysed. In this way a
continuous improvement took place.
The outcome of the HSE analysis was discussed every week in a toolbox meeting with all
employees and on a monthly basis with Shell.
As a consequence there were no safety incidents at all and no lost working day cases. To thank the
contractor for such a quick turnaround time, Shell remunerated all staff members with Christmas