Ernie Espinosa,Dr. Danilo Cabantog and Rico BersaminWith five geothermal sites scattered all over the country, keeping a spotless safety record is a challenge, and it is a challenge that Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is working to step up to.
Headquartered at the Energy Center in Taguig, EDC maintains a hydro and a wind farm project in addition to the geothermal sites BacMan Geothermal Production Field in Luzon; Northern Negros Geothermal Production Field, Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field and Leyte Geothermal Production Field in the Visayas; and Mindanao Geothermal Production Field.
As the country’s market leader in the geothermal energy industry, the safety of its operations and employees is of paramount importance to EDC.
EDC’s Strategic Initiatives Office, in collaboration with the safety officers assigned to the different sites, is now crafting a unified set of safety standards for all the sites. They analyze the root cause of safety incidents in order to come up with a solution that is applicable to all areas.
“The safety standards are important because you need to be able to do the same thing according to the standards in all the sites. The idea behind finding the root cause is to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” explained VP-Strategic Initiatives Rico Bersamin.
The oil refinery veteran noted the need to focus on “safety first before production,” pointing out that the two are not incompatible. Already, he said, employees are starting to be more conscious about unsafe incidents, reporting them to management so that these may be rectified or resolved.
“People are empowered. They say, ‘this is unsafe, we should stop this.’ That makes business sense because if something happens, the stoppage alone will cost the company a lot of money, the compensation alone will cost a lot of money. The cost of unsafe things can be high,” Bersamin stressed.
Ernesto Espinosa, VP for HR Management Sector, cited the case of an employee who reported that the announcements posted near the stairs were distracting the people going up and down, making them prone to accidents. To show that they appreciated her initiative to speak up, Espinosa said, they immediately had the materials removed.
“The reverse of it is, people just keep quiet. If something happens, well, it’s done, it’s happened. So it’s better that they speak up before it happens— that should be our mindset.”
Bersamin shared that he had just come from a safety walk at the BacMan plant, a regular management committee activity wherein they form teams and go around the sites.
“People, day in and day out, do the same thing, forgetting that there are sometimes unsafe areas because they’re used to it,” he explained. When the safety walk teams come in, their unfamiliarity with the area allows them to see something unusual very quickly.
Dr. Danilo Cabantog, manager of the Medical Department under HR, leads the company’s three-pronged health program that includes health promotion, disease prevention and disease management or cure. Their activities mainly focus on health promotion and disease prevention because they believe that “prevention is always better than cure.”
“Our health promotion involves a series of health awareness programs through lectures, ‘tailgate’ meetings focusing on specific departments with specific health concerns, and other healthrelated seminars. We believe that through health awareness our employees would not only know the proper way to maintain their health and well-being but also realize its importance. They are responsible for their health and must know how to take care of themselves and their family,” Dr. Cabantog said.
“Our disease prevention program, on the other hand, is more proactive. It includes a vaccination program, drug-free workplace program, weight management program, cancer prevention program and all other screening programs that will save our employees from the inconvenience of being sick and allow them to be more productive and effective at their jobs.”
Under Dr. Cabantog, EDC has become active in the Lopez Group Lifelong Wellness activities. “We send employees whom we have identified as having weight and cholesterol problems to participate in the Lopez Group wellness activities, specifically in the Wellness 101 course, for instance.”
EDC also maintains satellite clinics in all project sites catering to the health needs of the project site employees. Each clinic is manned by a medical team composed of specialized doctors, advanced cardiac life support nurses, nutritionists and first aiders. As part of the emergency response program, EDC also has emergency response teams and a 24/7 standby ambulance per site.
HR VP Espinosa emphasized: “When you talk of employee welfare and wellness, there are basically two components: safety and health. A healthy employee is a productive employee.”
To further boost employee morale, EDC set up an exhibit that highlights the achievements of the employees as part of its 35th anniversary this year. “We’re recognizing the achievements of people also on a personal side, not only those related to EDC. The president also had the idea that whatever are the photos, diplomas and certificates in the head office be brought to the other sites as well. We did more than that—we retained what is in the head office and then came up with employee achievement galleries in all the sites,” Espinosa said.