At no point have production and sales stopped


Jovica Bojinović, Head of the HSE Sector of the Sales and Distribution Block at NIS

Source: the National Petroleum Committee of Serbia Bulletin

NIS is considered to be one of the first companies to introduce the Crisis Response Headquarters in the conditions of the Covid 19 pandemic and you have been appointed Civil Protection Commissioner. How do you assess the efficiency of the work of the Crisis Headquarters?

First of all, it is important to point out that NIS is a large company with more than 11,000 employees. In addition to Serbia, we also perform business operations in neighbouring countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania. Conducting business operations in the conditions of the new coronavirus outbreak is certainly a significant challenge for all business systems, especially for large companies such as NIS. That is why prompt reaction and good organisation are the key factors in tackling this challenge. In that regard, NIS was certainly one of the first entities that formed a crisis team in order to ensure the safety of employees and consumers on the one hand, as well as to maintain energy stability in the Republic of Serbia on the other. Also, such teams were formed in all organizational units of NIS, as well as in our affiliated companies in the region. All the teams worked very efficiently – adopting and coordinating preventive measures, procuring necessary quantities of protective equipment, and I would like to particularly emphasize that we adopted, together with our experts from the Lubricants Department of the Sales and Distribution Block, the production of our own disinfectant NISOTEC ANTISEPSOL which we used for the needs of the company. In addition, we have been adhering to and continue to abide by all recommendations given by the relevant state authorities with regard to combating and preventing the spread of infection.

What measures and protocols did NIS introduce to prevent the Covid 19 pandemic affecting the health of NIS’ employees and business operations? What was the biggest challenge for the company?

At the company level, a crisis team was formed which adopts all key measures, monitors the health of employees and cooperates with the competent state authorities. Also, the role and tasks of the company’s civil protection that cooperates with the National Headquarters for Emergency Situations were defined. The biggest challenge in such a large company with numerous facilities and various units was to establish quality communication with employees and management in order to make prompt decisions aimed at adapting business processes to the new circumstances, while concurrently making work safe and efficient. Also, our employees were excellently informed about how the infection is transmitted, how to preserve and protect their health, what to do in case they suspect they might be infected or to have been in contact with an infected person. Immediately after the declaration of the State of Emergency, NIS’ office workers were allowed to work from home, and special measures were introduced at oil wells, in the Pančevo Oil Refinery, and in petrol stations. All business trips were postponed until further notice, and meetings were arranged via video link. Regular disinfection was and is carried out at NIS’ locations and we installed Plexiglas fences, wherever it was possible, to reduce the intensity of contacts. An obligation was also introduced for all employees to monitor contacts with colleagues on a daily basis. All this has resulted in the preservation of health of our employees and in the fact that production and sales at our locations have not stopped even for a moment.

How do you estimate that the Covid 19 pandemic will affect the change of NIS HSE strategy and policy?

Entire societies and communities around the world are being faced with this great challenge. For large companies, such as NIS, the first priority is the health of our employees, but also the preservation of stability of supplying the citizens, of the economy and state institutions. This pandemic has revealed new risks, but also new possibilities, such as working from home, remote process management etc. I believe that these circumstances will affect the change of HSE Strategy and Policy in our company by introducing new tools and measures – all this in order to increase the safety of employees and processes in the similar or same circumstances which will pose challenges for us in the future.

Which measures do you consider to be effective in increasing personal responsibility of employees for the application of protective actions against Covid 19?

I believe that during the pandemic it is very important to establish a Preventive Measures Plan that will be communicated and distributed to employees in a timely manner and with clear instructions, as well as with risk warnings in case of non-compliance with the said measures. Transparency in managing the processes during the pandemic is also an important factor as it provides the necessary answers to employees and makes a person safer at an individual level. Of course, much depends on the personal responsibility of the employees, because the company should provide the conditions for the implementation of the protective measures, but the very implementation of those measures is up to the employees. Therefore, I would like to commend the colleagues who showed responsibility and courage in the circumstances which befell us in the past months and which were far from easy.

Will this pandemic affect the change in HSE awareness in companies?

Ever since the pandemic was declared, from the very beginning, NIS’ employees have shown maximum responsibility and commitment to abide by all measures prescribed by the company and the Government of the Republic of Serbia in order to preserve their own health as well as the health of their colleagues and of our consumers. The pandemic has definitely affected the change in HSE culture in the company, which is, this time, raised a notch above the already high level in all organizational units of NIS. The management pays special attention to the compliance with strict measures, starting with the elementary ones – prompt communication, wearing of protective equipment (masks, gloves etc.), disinfection of work space areas and facilities and maintaining social distancing. The level of HSE awareness among employees has improved by applying the measures not only during the time spent in the company’s premises, but also by adopting a new and safe way of behaving in everyday life.