Friday, October 23, 2009

Unsafe employees:Reform or terminate?

Any effective health and safety management program requires discipline and follow-through from both management and workers. Often, however, employers fail to follow through on reforming or terminating unsafe workers; instead, just letting them continue to flail along while putting themselves and others at risk.

While the threat of a termination-related lawsuit is undoubtedly sobering, doing nothing is far from an acceptable solution. Failing to act when an unsafe employee ignores safety practices or engages in reckless behaviours can destroy your safety culture. Morale drops, injury risk increases, and you face greater exposure to compliance-related complaints and citations. This accepted behaviour soon becomes the norm and so your safety culture is eroded to a point where you no longer understand why you are experiencing so many incidents.

So how has this attitude become entrenched in our working culture?

  • Production time and cost constraints place pressure on safety considerations.
  • A perception amongst workers that supervision tolerates safety deviations, if they are in the interest of getting the job done quicker.
  • Inability or lack of desire to implement disciplinary action with regard to safety deviations.
  • Legislator’s failure to impose the law on employers and employees. (Risk of punitive action is not perceived)
  • A lack of understanding of the law.
  • Haphazard and self serving health and safety implementation and control.

People will continue stealing if the advantage outweighs the risk of capture and punishment. Similarly workers and supervision will continue taking short cuts if actions are tolerated and remain unchallenged. Reformation requires a culture change at all levels in the organization.

So how do company’s overcome this attitude and create a culture of self disciplined compliance:

  • Including health and safety competency as part of the recruiting process.
  • Entrenching health and safety performance requirements into employment contracts.
  • Defined disciplinary codes to address health and safety contraventions.
  • Incentive programs. (Performance rather than outcome based)
  • Health and safety knowledge included in individual development programs.
  • Visible leadership and consequential enforcement of safety rules.

Safety successful organizations have, through these means, replaced the requirements for reform and termination with the concepts of continuous improvement and individual development.

The need to reform or terminate is indicative of a health and safety system that is haphazardly implemented and is based on continuous recovery from failure. This need can only be overcome if we take ownership and acknowledge health and safety as an integral business driver. Clearly defined systems provide for early intervention and reduce the need to terminate, which in itself is a costly process.

Set your standard, continuously measure performance against it and stop tolerating sub-standard performance. If your system is right then terminating non-performing elements of your organization will not only be objective but beneficial to everyone.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do we make a difference?

This is a common question amongst professionals who are mostly charged with the responsibility of preventing things from happening. This already creates a problem as how do we go about proving that we prevented something from happening? Answering this question could be as challenging as resolving the current crime issues in South Africa. Traditionally we measure our success as to whether we have had fewer or less severe injuries than the previous year. Okay, fair enough… So we hurt fewer people, or we hurt them less badly than in the past,but what we are actually saying is, we measured decreases in our failures or we didn’t screw-up quite so badly. The average safety person, just like the average member of management, looks at safety performance in terms of frequency of losses and severity of losses year over year. Our profession has no viable means of benchmarking what we do in a meaningful manner other than attempting to illustrate how we might have kept a few bad things from happening as terribly as they did last year. Given how many risk-control and risk-reducion solutions are in today’s workplace, it would be reasonable to suspect that the safety profession has met the measurement challenge head on already. When accidents and injuries do occur, even if they are severe or catastrophic, we often hear safety people saying things like “if only they had listened to me, this wouldn’t have happened; I knew something like this was bound to occur; or my personal favorite It could have been a lot worse if they weren’t wearing hard hats”. When bad things happen, people in the Safety and Health Profession are just as likely to rationalize these events the same as anyone else who wants to avoid or minimize blame. To date I can't recall any quantified study attempting to demonstrate any direct, or indirect benefit related to having a dedicated safety officer ever being undertaken. I have not found evidence, that indicates investing in a safety professional yields positive financial results for an organization. Intuitively, we may feel like we make a difference, but there is nothing in the way of quantifiable proof to indicate that we do. So the next time you are wondering what to do with those 15 minutes you have between Lockout/Tagout Training sessions, start thinking about how you REALLY impact the bottom line. Always remember, no business or organization is in existence for any other reason than to make money. If you aren’t adding to the profit picture, you are taking away from it… and that is a situation that won’t last very long. We need to have a concrete means of aligning our workplace efforts with clearly definable and reasonably attainable results. These results must be understandable to all stakeholders and must absolutely result in dramatic improvements to the overall workplace. Until then, Safety Professionals should stop believing the myth that they make an easily identifiable difference.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

King III and Corporate Governance from 2010

I am sure we are all aware of the King II report and its impact on the approach to Risk Management in South Africa. The draft King III report was published for comment in April this year and will more than likely be legislated early next year. The following key issues stand out in the King III report as opposed to the King II report: 1.It has adopted an "apply or explain" basis instead of the previous "comply or explain". This in part is because the report has been expanded to include all entities and not only JSE listed ones. This will allow medium to small entities to apply the principles selectively, but with an explanation as to why certain principles have not been met or implemented. It thus has a more self regulatory basis. 2. The code will be legislated, whereas the previous report merely served as a code of best practice. 3. It has a risk based approach rather than a pure legal compliance concept. KPMG have summarized the Risk Management portion of the report as follows: Risk Management Risk management is inseparable from company’s strategic and business processes. The Board is responsible for the risk management process (including company’s risk appetite,capacity and tolerance limits) and may delegate risk management to a Risk Committee. The Risk Committee: Can be comprised of executive, nonexecutive directors, management and independent risk management experts with a minimum of three members - Should be chaired by a non-executive director and meet at least twice per annum - Consider risk maturity, risk management activities, significant risks, material losses or changes in risks, due diligence activities, IT risks and risk reporting. Management is responsible for implementing the risk management process and risk management should be embedded in the company, practised daily by staff, and risks should be assessed on an ongoing basis. The Board should: - Ensure regular (at least annual),comprehensive risk assessments and must review the risk register - Ensure risk identification is directed towards company objectives - Ensure quantification, appropriate response to key risks and validation with stakeholders - Adopt a risk management plan and approve the company’s chosen risk philosophy - Approve key risk indicators and tolerance levels. (Internal audit to provide independent assurance on the risk management process) - Disclose risk tolerance and report on the effectiveness of risk management in the annual report - Ensure the company’s reputational risk is protected - Determine the extent sustainability issues are addressed and reported (e.g. through stakeholder risk assessment, ethics risk assessment, environmental risk assessment and human capital considerations) - Take ownership of IT governance including IT security.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why fire risk assessment is important for your business

Fire poses a major threat to all businesses and should be of prime importance to any managing director or boss. The consequences of a fire can be far reaching and can even leave a business in the same state as the burnt out premises; ruined. If operating in a single premises the effects can be even more devastating, hence the importance of fire risk assessment procedures are an essential component of any health and safety protocol. For companies who house supplies and other integral business elements in their premises the effects of fire can be even more damaging. In terms of continuity of supply and relationships with buyers, the effects can sometimes never be recouped. An efficient assessment of the risk that fire may pose to your business should be regularly carried out to ensure not only the safety of your staff members, but also to protect your business. An employer's own conscience should force them to undertake a thorough fire risk assessment, although legal requirements for employers are extensive in ensuring staff safety. The process of fire risk assessment involves identifying the various sources of ignition that may be present in your business. Not only should an assessment identify the ignition points but also the levels of combustible materials in a workplace. Such materials include soft furnishings and elements of the structure such as a timber frame or desks. The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to minimise the potential for fire in your business premises. The risk assessment should involve the identification and if possible the elimination of hazards in the workplace. If these elements cannot be eliminated from the day to day uses of the business, fire risk assessment should advise ways in which the hazards can be dealt with and avoided. Usually safe working methods can be developed that put hazardous practises as far away from combustible materials and ignition sources as possible. This may mean that your risk assessment will take a few days to get a true understanding of the patterns of work in your business. Also, as part of the assessment, the people who work in your premises will be examined. This may include assessing the risk staff members, customers and other members of the public that may have access to your premises. The number of people present in the premises in the event of a fire will also be estimated by the assessment of visitor numbers over a few days. As a result of this information escape routes and fire safety protocol will be part of the risk assessment to ensure evacuation is carried out efficiently and effectively in the event of fire. As well a the means of escape, fire fighting apparatus and equipment will be assessed as well as the number of people who are able to operate this apparatus in an emergency. Considerations of age, health and agility in terms of the people present on the premises will also be part of the risk assessment. These factors are important especially when considering different working environments such as nurseries, factories or care homes. As a result action plans can vary immensely. The risk assessment report will ensure that there are sufficient staff members present to cope with a fire should it break out. Also the action plan should focus upon minimising the risk of fire in the first place, by understanding the causes of fire and elements involved, prevention should be more effective. Assessment will also include an appraisal of the current action plan and the working order of the various fire fighting equipment in a business premises. Fire is a risk that worries most employers, an assessment can inform bosses where they are with ensuring the safety of there staff and how much they need to do to increase this safety. As a legal requirement, following the recommendations of the report is a vital legislative requirement.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mine Deaths - Tragedy or Economy?

I woke up this morning to a beautiful Zululand day, and suddenly my heart went out to the families of those men killed in our mines the last two weeks. In an article in the Mining news the General Secretary of Cosatu called these deaths a national disgrace. Now im not a political activist, but i cant agree more. We are always willing to show solidarity and concern after having killed people by slosing sections of our operations whilst investigations are being done, but never commit to identifying pre-emptors to these tragedies, closing areas to afford us the opportunity to implement control measures to prevent these deaths. Remove the fatality rate measurement - are we really willing to measure our success against the number of people we kill??? Tighten legislation and make directors, managers and owners directly liable for these deaths, while in the same breath directors, managers and owners should start taking action against employees who fail to adhere to safety requirements. Its time for action - no more deaths - no more debilitating injuries - no more excuses - no more clever post incident solutions. In OHSAS 18001 we have a world class health and safety management system so its not that we dont know its just that we dont care enough. Maybe we are still a third world country if we only act when legislation is enforced! Read the article: Deaths a National disgrace Make a difference: Make every day a "Zero Harm" day, show that you care by acting, stop justifying ludicrous lagging indicators like fatality rates and define and manage proper leading indicators. Yes mining is dangerous but there is no need for it to be deadly! Its good to work, but having to die for your work is criminal. Remember the families who no longer can share this sunday with their loved ones

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Health and Safety Program effectiveness - Employee participation

I am sure we have all stopped and asked ourselves, why is it not working? We have the documentation; we have appointed the necessary people yet we still keep having negative health and safety experiences. The simple truth is that most programs fail to collaborate and consequently there is a lack of participation and commitment at all levels. Below we have a typical, yet simple matrix depicting the levels of employee participation: 1. Worker participation is not encouraged. Incentive programs are present which have the effect of discouraging reporting of incidents, injuries, potential hazards or symptoms. Employee representatives are not involved in the health and safety program, it is left to the appointed safety officer. 2. Workers and their representatives can participate freely in safety and health activities at the worksite without fear of reprisal. Procedures are in place for communication between employer and workers on health and safety matters. Workers are paid while performing safety activities. 3. Workers and their representatives are involved in the health and safety program, involved in inspection of work areas, and are permitted to observe monitoring programs and receive results. Workers' and representatives' right of access to information is understood by workers and recognized by management. A documented procedure is in place for raising complaints of hazards or discrimination and receiving timely employer responses. 4. Workers and their representatives participate in workplace analysis, inspections and investigations, as well as the development of control strategies throughout the organization. They have the necessary training and education to participate in such activities. Workers and their representatives have access to all pertinent health and safety information, including safety reports and audits. Workers are informed of their right to refuse job assignments that pose serious hazards to themselves pending management response. 5. Workers and their representatives participate fully in development of the safety and health program and conduct of training and education. Workers participate in audits; program reviews conducted by management or third parties, and collection of samples for monitoring purposes, and have necessary training and education to participate in such activities. Employer encourages and authorizes employees to stop activities that present potentially serious safety and health hazards. How participative is your approach to Health and Safety? • Is your system managed by a third party? • Is your system a compliance dictatorship? • Is your system a business partnership? Informed, competent, empowered teams react safely to their environment.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Magic Milestones - RB720

Magic Milestones - I came across this photo in my archive last night and it brought back some great memories. This project brought about some great friendships and construction safety initiatives which changed the face of safety. This was our first true measurement of safety maturity - 250 000 incident free man-hours. Safety is about people and when we start measuring Zero exposure instead of zero fatalities then we are on the right road. Thanks to all those people who I have walked this long road with - its your passion that makes the journey possible.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

3 Tips to increase Employee compliance

As we have all been told and expewrienced 88% of all accidents are caused by unsafe acts of workers. The obvious solution to this problem would be to make sure your employees comply with health and safety laws. Tip 1: Include a health and safety clause in all contracts of employment. Include a clause in your employees’ contracts of employment stating that “failure to adhere to health and safety regulations may lead to disciplinary action and/or possible dismissal”. This rule must be applied consistently and continuously to build a culture of safety awareness and ensure that workers can’t claim they’re being singled out for punishment. Tip 2: Your employees can be fined R50 000. If the Department of Labour does an inspection of your workplace and your employee is found guilty of negligence or wilful misconduct, he could be fined. The maximum penalty for non-compliance is R50 000 or 1 year in jail – or both! Use the safety test in the Health & Safety Advisor to help your employees understand their health and safety obligations. Tip 3: Stop employees damaging safety equipment. In terms of the OHSAct, it’s an offence to intentionally or recklessly misuse or damage any safety equipment. Ensure that this rule is known and enforced. You can take disciplinary action in cases of abuse. Take time to include health and safety in your human resources policies, making it part of contracts and including clear disciplinary guidelines. Health and Safety is everyones responsibility - not just the employers.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Having lunch with God

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer (iron brew in SA context) and started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her some chips. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!" Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?" She replied! "I ate potato chips in the park with God." However, before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected." Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime! Embrace all equally! Have lunch with God ....... bring chips.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back injuries at work

Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and is often caused by ordinary work activities such as sitting in an office chair or heavy lifting. Applying ergonomic principles - the study of the workplace as it relates to the worker - can help prevent work-related back pain and back injury and help maintain a healthy back. The goal of an ergonomics program in industry is to adapt the workplace to a specific worker, dependent on the job description, required tasks and physical make up of the employee performing those tasks. Two types of situations typically cause people to begin having back pain or to sustain a back injury while on the job: 1. Non-accidental injury, where pain arises as a result of normal activities and requirements of the task. Poor body mechanics (such as slouching in an office chair), prolonged activity, repetitive motions, and fatigue are major contributors to these injuries. This may occur from sitting in an office chair or standing for too long in one position. 2. Accidental injury results when an unexpected event triggers injury during the task. A load that slips or shifts as it is being lifted, and a slip and fall or hitting one’s head on a cabinet door are typical examples. These accidents can jolt the neck, back and other joints with resulting muscle strain or tearing of soft tissue in the back. Any job that involves heavy labor or manual material handling may be in a high-risk category. Manual material handling entails lifting, but also usually includes climbing, pushing, pulling and pivoting, all of which pose the risk of injury to the back. Ergonomics is essential...make sure you include it in all inspections and risk assessments.

Remember those old construction pictures?

I have eventually found a powerpoint presentation of those old construction pictures, the ones before safety was found. Remember those guys sitting on a beam having lunch? Click the title of this topic and enjoy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Construction Health and Safety Statistics

Dr Rodney Milford of the (CIDB)Construction Industry Development Board said that statistics available to measure fatalities and injuries in the industry are severely lacking, which makes painting an accurate picture of current trends difficult. I can't agree more. This industry still remains bound to individual contract measurement by clients - if they wish to. The compensation commissioner does not appear capable of presenting any usable statistics as the latest ones available date back to 1999, moe than 10 years outdated. According to the Department of Labour (DoL) there were 162 fatalities in the construction industry, excluding motor vehicle accidents, in 2007/08, compared with 79 in 2006/07, 81 in 2005/06, and 54 in 2004/05. These statistics, even if slightly skewed clearly indicate that an improvement is not what we are seeing. Milford explains that South Africa is not lacking in health and safety legislation, but rather that enforcement is sorely lacking. Also, those government officials inspecting building sites lacked the requisite construction expertise to spot noncompliance. Contractors due to these circumstances are being able to manipulate there results, thereby creating a false sense of safety. Milford suggests that the public sector should use its procurement potential to achieve improvements in the construction industry's health and safety performance. Take ownership and scrutinize contractor's safety when adjudicating contracts. (This is something I have personally been pushing for the last 10 years with limited success as even clients tend to prefer a blood tainted product which was constructed cheaply) Only prequalified contractors with recognised health and safety management, skills and competencies should be allowed to compete for contracts. This in todays environment falls squarely with government as they have a R787 billion infrastructure budget they will be allocating in the next 5 years. If you are a client, are you doing your bit to ensure your contractor is competent to provide your project safely? To read the full article published in the Engineering News click the title link.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dial-a-Safety Officer

By subscribing to our “Dial-a-Safety Officer” service you will have access to immediate, accurate and performance tested advice whenever you need it. Remove that uncertainty, register today, and have access to all the information you require.

What the “Dial-a-Safety Officer” service provides:

  • 24 hour online support. (We will answer questions and provide clarity on health and safety issues)
  • Interpretation of legal compliance issues.
  • Guidance with regard to incident investigations and workman’s compensation claims.
  • Access to our monthly newsletter.
  • Immediate notification of any legislative changes and the possible impact on your safety program.
Remove those grey areas from your safety program by giving yourself access to world class health and safety assistance today.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Do you comply with the construction industry regulations?

Nearly every month there is a health and safety fatality in the construction industry. This industry is one of the most closely monitored by the Department of Labour. If you haven’t had a visit from an inspector yet, you will soon. During 2006/7: • 1 230 prohibition notices stopped workplace operations. • A further 10 949 notices were served for contraventions in health and safety. • Inspectors visited 29 161 employers – that’s 111 inspections every working day! Are you ready for such an inspection? Check if you have done ALL of these things: * Do you have Health and Safety specifications and plans for your constructions sites? * Have you made all the necessary legal appointments? * Have you conducted a risk assessment before and during commencement of construction work? * Have you notified the Department of Labour of the construction work? * Can you prove that you gave each employee safety induction training? * Are all your employees working in elevated positions in possession of a medical fitness certificate? * Is your construction site fenced off to prevent unauthorised access? * Do you have a safety file on site with all the relevant documentation? * Do you inspect formwork and support work structures immediately before, during and after the placement of concrete and thereafter daily until the structure is removed? * Have you done a fall protection plan for your site? * Do you have an emergency evacuation plan for your site? * Have you appointed a stacking and storage supervisor? * Do your construction vehicles comply with what is legally required? * Have all competencies been verified and recorded? These are some of the questions which you will have to answer if you are one of the employers visited. Give us a call today and let us help you take the fear out of inspection.

Your responsibility to protect outsiders

The recent spate of deaths in decommissioned shafts by illegal miners has already had an adverse effect, not only on their families but the continued operation of the mines involved. With the economy becoming more and more depressed we will start seeing a marked increase in the number of these type of incidents, where desperate people attempt to secure some form of income. As employers we are obliged to ensure the safety of all persons who may come into contact with our operation, and that includes trespassers. Although this sounds harsh - and you may ask yourself, how do we prevent this? The answer lies in adopting a cradle to grave approach with regard to safety. We are reponsible for what we create and returning it back to nature or the community in safe and healthy manner. These unnecessary deaths should not be laid at the door of the depressed economy, but rather at our continued failure to include health and safety into all our operational protocols. We all know, and that includes those who died, that they shouldn't have been there, but what was done to prevent them from being there or communicating the hazards associated with them being there? We close a shaft, or portion of our operation, put up some signage, remove the costly operational aspects such as security and then close our eyes to these external threats. An unfortunate part of this whole spectacle is that we find it so easy to justify that we have done what is "reasonably practicable". We should stop measuring our failures against having done what is "reasonably practicable" and rather start measuring the effectiveness of our controls against what is seen as "reasonably practicable". Unfortunately our journey to health and safety maturity is still a long one. My thoughts go out to those families who have lost loved ones because we have done what is "reasonably practicable"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can't sleep? Try these 15 Tips

Practice "Good Sleep Hygiene". Here are some tips for you to try: 1. No reading or watching TV in bed. These are waking activities. If your insomnia is chronic, it is not a good thing to do, says Dr. Alex Clerk, head of Stanford Sleep Disorder Clinic in Palo Alto. 2. Go to bed when you're sleepy-tired, not when it's time to go to bed by habit. 3. Wind down during the second half of the evening before bedtime. More specifically, 90 minutes before bed, don't get involved in any kind of anxiety provoking activities or thoughts. Don't open your mail, email or watch the evening news. Those events are not always anxiety producing, but you never know when they will be. 4. Practice breathing with your abdomen, using low slow evenly spaced breathes that make your belly move more than your chest. Focus on tightening then relaxing major muscle groups, starting with your toes and ending with your forehead. 5. Your bed is for sleeping, if you can't sleep after 15-20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. 6. Set your room temperature to be cool rather than warm. 7. Don't count sheep; counting is stimulating. 8. Exercise in the afternoon or early evening; but no later than 3 hours before bedtime. 9. Don't over-eat; and eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. 10. Don't nap during the day. If you get sleepy and are not ill, try to postpone that nap. See if you can delay it and forget about it altogether. 11. If you awake in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep within 30 minutes, get up and do something else. Avoid turning on the lights or working at a computer. Light entering your eyes will stimulate your brain's day/night balance and keep you awake. 12. Avoid all coffee, alcohol and cigarettes 2-3 hours before bedtime. 13. If you have disturbing dreams or nightmares, use your mind's eye to "add" and ending that you prefer. It sounds a bit weird, but force yourself to imagine a whole different ending scene. Write the replacement ending in a notebook if you can't hold onto it. 14. Schedule a half-hour writing about your concerns and hopes in a journal every night to free up your sleep from processing your dilemmas as much. 15. Listen to calming music, self-hypnosis or brain recalibration tape for sleep.

The Inga Health and Safety Forum

Join the Inga health and safety forum...interact with like minded safety conscious people. Lets help each other to overcome the obstacles preventing us from achieving an injury free work environment.

June Newsletter

Get your June copy of our newsletter now, with articles on our innovative desktop training, the economic pinch expected on construction as well as a useful topic on manual handling. Feel free to contribute to the success of this newsletter by distributing it to colleagues and providing articles for inclusion.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Global economic impact on SA Construction

This video interview was published in the Engineering news today and it would do all safety practitioners good to view it. We all know that safety is the first to go when there is a money pinch - now is the time to get that thinking cap out and start working on some innovative ways of ensuring that your safety gives you the edge in what will become a cut throat competition for local work. Budgets will be cut and tenders trimmed - the squeeze will be on the worker, who will have to absorb the unnecessary exposures created by this competitive environment, unless you are ready to market health and safety as a viable, profit generating part of your organizations setup, or will you simply step back and give up? At Inga Health and Safety people are our passion and we can assist you to maintain your momentum and safety growth through this period of uncertainty. Let us help you to keep your safety journey on track.

Failing to embrace health and safety standards

In South Africa we continue to kill workers on a shockingly regular basis, even though we have adopted and adapted some of the worlds best standards. The question must be why are we continuing to fail in our attempts to embrace these standards and make them work in our unique environments? We need to become pitbulls - continuously pushing for best practice, and by that I dont mean researching it but actually making it part of how we operate on a day to day basis. When it comes to safety South Africa is still reactive, avoiding safety as an active part of our corporate governance. We talk safety first and insist that communication around safety must be improved, but we fail to realize that the best form of communication is action: What are we doing or seen to be doing? Do we close areas of our works down to mitigate factors which may lead to serious injury or death timeously, or do we just continue to wait until we have killed someone? The time to act is now- stop planning and strategising, start implementing so that we no longer have to export or buy products tainted in the blood of fellow workers. Follow the 20 steps to success and make a difference today

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Impact of economic crisis on safety performance

Are you already seeing a negative impact on your safety performance (increased incident ratios) or will we only see this as a long term impact of reduced maintenance and health and safety training?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Health and Safety Program effectiveness

In the course of the next couple of weeks I am going to evaluate the typical components of a health and safety program, looking at those aspects which make them work or make them fail. In this article I am going to take a closer look at: THE EFFECTIVENESS OF LEADERSHIP I happened to read an article published in the Mining weekly in which an executive member made the comment that when it comes to safety management are set up to fail. He justified this statement by saying that it was not always possible to put safety first due to the stringent production requirements in the market. Firstly: If we stopped putting safety first and started making it part of our operation we would reap the rewards at all levels - and provide stakeholders a return that wasn't tainted with blood. Secondly: If this is still the attitude we have at senior level - then maybe the next fatality should be in the boardroom. 1. Management demonstrates no policy, goals, objectives or interest in safety and health issues in the work place. 2. Management sets and communicates health and safety policy and goals, but they remain detached from all the health and safety efforts. 3. Management follows all the health and safety rules, visibly supporting the health and safety efforts of others. 4. Management participates in the significant aspects of the site's health and safety program, such as inspections, incident reviews and program reviews. Incentive programs that discourage the reporting of incidents, other symptoms of deficiency or hazards may be present. 5. Site health and safety issues are regularly included on the agendas of all management operational meetings. Management clearly demonstrates, through direct involvement, there commitment to the fact that health and safety is of primary importance on the site. there performance is consistent, sustained and geared at continuous improvement. Where are you on this journey?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Health and Safety a reluctant portfolio

This appears to be a problem mostly amongst SME's (Small to Medium enterprises) and is clearly related to three specific issues: Percieved cost of implementation, ownership and a failed ability by the legislator to enforce the requirements. Although we cant change the manner in which the legislation is managed, we can incorporate the self regulatory intentions of the legislator into how we do business. Don't wait to be policed, rather invest and ensure you have a system working for you. Health and safety is only costly if we implement it in a haphazard and after the fact manner. By doing this we allow ourselves to be guided by big business or consultants, who have no insight into how we manage our core business, often resulting in the development of costly short term solutions addressing external concerns rather than our own opportunities. Legislation can and should be built into every aspect of our business. The following 4 aspects are critical to our business continuity and form the basis of the legislation: Identification of exposures; assessing these exposures; developing controls to reduce the likelihood of them materiailizing or mitigating there impact and finally communicating the exposures and controls to all persons involved in our operation. As you can see the management principles are no different to those of any other discipline within your organization. Make safety part of how you do business. Its only costly when you have to do it to satisfy the needs of others. Being a consultant myself I dont want to say we are not needed, but would rather like to say we often sell our services for the wrong reasons. My goal is to provide support, allowing you to develop and sustain those 4 key aspects as an integral part of your business ethic. Our goal should be to reach a point where we are no longer dependent on each other, you for compliance, me for an income, but rather interdependent where we are sharing ideas and cultivating a culture where the ability to perform safely is determined by our efforts to provide a safe environment in which safe decisions can be made. Only once we have all realized that health and safety is an integral part of our core business will we be able to take ownership, and unfortunately we will only see a return on our investment if we embrace this ownership. How many safety plans have you had developed by an outsider for a specific project? How many deals have you lost because you have failed to display health and safety ownership? How many costly incidents could have been avoided because you ignored these 4 aspects? What are the top 5 exposures of your organization and how are you addressing them? How can you take ownerhip of your Health and Safety?
  • Understand the legislation. (Take the time to read it - its common sense)
  • Identify your exposures. (At least the top 5)
  • Assess these exposures. (What can you do to remove or reduce these exposures)
  • Include these control measures in your operating methods. (Make it part of the task)
  • Document and communicate these exposures and control measures.
  • Make the implementation of this process part of your management responsibility.
Don't put your safety in someone else's hands - it could be fatal and most definitely will be costly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Incident Severity Ratios - Inevitability or Opportunity?

As can be seen in the pyramid ratio published by Frank Bird in 1969 there is a clear correlation between minor non-consequential incidents and the ensuing serious high level impact outcomes. Although this ratio has been debated for years the reality is that a correlation exists, even if not at the exact ratio published. The big question is how are we using and interpreting this information?

· Do we use it as a timeline to our next major incident – trying to prevent the fatality or serious injury just before it happens or trying to prevent it from happening again?

· Or do we use it as a leading indicator, measuring the ongoing development and continuous improvement of our health and safety systems? (The reality is that incidents will always be a part of our lives, but we can reduce the impact and extent of the outcome by ensuring a solid foundation)

Electrical Installation Regulations 2009

The revised Electrical Installation Regulations will come into effect on the 1 May 2009, incorporating a number of standards. What impact will the changes, if any have on your organization? Comments on the new regulations and the implementation thereof would be welcome.