After a thorough audit procedure, Yitch saw its efforts to improve safety on its various projects rewarded with a renewed VCA** certificate. To Yitch customers, this certification is a guarantee that all safety regulations are meticulously respected when realizing an industrial automation project. For a detailed explanation, we have Walter Dyck, Health & Safety Prevention Advisor at Yitch, to tell you more.
What is represented by a VCA certificate?
VCA is the Dutch acronym for the 'Safety, Health and Environment Checklist for Contractors', of which obtaining the certificate at company or person level (known respectively as VCA and VOL-VCA) demonstrates that strict procedures are being followed to guarantee safety when performing work.
The VCA** certificate (the two-star certificate) held by Yitch is the second strictest certificate one can obtain. With this certificate a company can do business in all branches of industry, with the exception of the petrochemical industry where an even stricter certificate applies with VCA-P.
What does it take to obtain the certificate?
The VCA checklist sets out in detail which rules one must follow in order to work safely in certain sectors. The most essential part of this document is the list of requirements for training, information, environmental care and work equipment.
- At an enterprise level:
Records documenting the efforts regarding safety
"In order to obtain VCA certification as a company, you have to be able to document your compliance with these ground rules - assessment criteria, so to speak - in the field," Walter Dyck, Health and Safety Prevention Advisor at Yitch, explains. "The most important thing as a company is to be able to comply with 27 questions that are posed by an independent auditor."
A positive result, which is a must, is achieved by demonstrating exactly how you comply with these questions by means of documents that detail your specific working method. If you fail to document this, then you will not pass these so called nor will you receive your certificate, it's as simple as that. On top of the 27 must-questions, there are also about 8 optional supplementary questions, of which you must pass at least 4 to pass.
"My job is to give advice directly to the Yitch board on how best to cope with these requirements," says the experienced prevention advisor.
- At the individual level:
An exam that allows employees to prove their knowledge of safety procedures
In addition to administratively proving that all safety procedures are followed, another requirement for obtaining such a VCA certificate as a company is that all employees are certified as well. This not only involves taking a VCA** exam within 3 months, but also requiring them to pass it. The result of this successful completion translates into the VOL-VCA, which is a safety certificate for operational managers.
What is the outcome of these exams?
The result is a VCA certificate awarded by the Belgian accreditation body BELAC with which Yitch, after a thorough audit by auditor BTV, indicates that its safety, health and environmental management system meets the predefined requirements for its field of application industrial process automation and industrial process techniques.
"Simply put, the certificate shows that ‘we are working on safety', although of course it is much more complex than that," Walter laughs. "If a company fails to successfully complete the checklist, and if your employees also encounter the necessary difficulties - in first attempt or after three months - the VCA certificate will expire, the company will be suspended and your data will be removed proving you were VCA-certified. But all kidding aside, of all the current 70 Yitch employees, as well as former employees who pursued their certification in Yitch pay, no one has ever failed. Of course, there always has to be one first, but rest assured that this will come with a treat, including a good dose of mockery," jokes Walter.
Yitch opts for both external and internal audit
Each year the existing systems from the initial certificate are reassessed, but even then, a certificate has to be renewed after 3 years.
"This means that, once again, you will need to devote yourself to obtaining that new certificate, with its updated questions and criteria," Walter explains. “Therefore it's useful to regularly refresh all safety procedures or even to question them, in order to keep a strong focus on the matter. After all, many companies don't value the subcontractors' possession of a VCA certificate as much as what it implies: that we, as a subcontractor, are committed to working safely. By regularly going over our procedures internally on top of the external audit, using the most recent audit report as a guide, we want to show our customers that our people, and our company, will always meet the highest standards in terms of safety!"