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“Safety as a connecting value for everyone in the organisation” 

10 jaar training en coaching als onderdeel van NINA

One of our partners, for whom we are very grateful, is Boskalis. Since they developed their own safety programme, known as NINA (“No injuries, no accidents”), in 2010, we have been allowed on board – literally and figuratively – to make work of the company’s safety ambitions. Ten of our trainers have travelled all over the world to make safety a topic of discussion at all levels of the organisation, but also to connect people. What were the main challenges over those years and how did we contribute to the NINA safety programme?


In 2010, Boskalis renewed its ambition to raise its safety conditions to the next level. Besides improving safety by focusing on systems and technology, they decided to add a behavioural element. Boskalis opted to develop a safety programme internally to ensure alignment with its own corporate culture and client needs. The key principles underlying the programme design were “holding each other accountable for safety” and “bottom-up communication”. Boskalis’ NINA programme was innovative because it shifted the focus from rule-driven safety to value-driven safety.  


De Federatie has been involved in NINA since 2010. For a conference held that year, Frans and Tjerk were asked to direct and act in a 30-minute role-playing exercise to get people to talk about situations in their day-to-day working practice. Those 30 minutes turned into an hour and a half, and that was the start of our lasting collaboration!  



Over the years, our trainers have remained closely involved in the further development of the programme, but have also kept in contact with all the people they met around the world. A key element of NINA is creating engagement with the people on ships or working on projects by involving them in safety from the start, since safety belongs to everyone at Boskalis. That comes about by asking questions like “How do we want to work safely together?” and “How are we going to make NINA a success on this project?”


Connection and mutual respect form an important basis for reducing the distance between people. That is why André, our account manager for Boskalis, does not refer to our workshops as training sessions, but rather as meetings, the main focus of which lies on making contact. By engaging with each other, safety is carried as a core value throughout the organisation: “I am responsible for my own safety and the safety of others.” This increases both awareness and ownership among people in a positive way and further closes the hierarchy gap to make safety an accepted topic of discussion.    



Besides involving operational people more in safety, management is also especially encouraged to invite people to join them in dialogue, to listen to those who do, to positively endorse safety and to visibly follow up on the feedback they receive. André recalls a statement a manager made during a NINA session, for example: “Tell me something I don’t want to hear. As a manager, I’m here to listen, not to tell people how things should be done.”  


The strength of De Federatie is not only knowing and understanding their customers’ field of work, but also very much being able to improvise in training sessions: “One moment you’re in a construction shed, the next you’re on a ship or in a warehouse.... Improvisation is our strength, which also makes it incredibly fun and challenging for us. You are continuously looking at what the group needs, asking, ‘How are we going to do what we need to do today?’ ‘How are we going to get people moving, bend any resistance and get the right topics on the table?’ But that is exactly what we as actors are used to in our profession.”  


While working on safety is never finished and the result is never perfect, André says the culture of safety at Boskalis has made a nice turnaround. He explains: “Whereas before the workshop people had been uncomfortable or even afraid to discuss safety, since they might have been seen as ‘softies’, now you see that people are actually seen as brave the moment they express their doubts. People also know that they will always be supported in doing so by the captain or their manager. There is now an atmosphere where people dare to speak up, no matter how tense and uncertain it can be.”   


André concludes by expressing his gratitude for the collaboration with the Boskalis team: “We have a super nice team with trainers, where you can even already see generations in the team. I am extremely proud of them. For ten years, Boskalis has been our biggest client, and we have learned so much from them.”  

Are you also curious about what De Federatie can do for the safety culture in your organisation? Contact André at 

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