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.
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  • 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.

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June Newsletter

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