HSSE and Pragmas goal zero

August 27, 2013

With our annual safety week recently concluded, Herman Engelbrecht, HSSE and Facilities Manager, shares how we are on track to making Pragma’s Goal Zero an important part of our culture.
There are three reasons why Pragma focuses on HSSE:

  • Firstly, we’re not rehearsing our lives. This is the real thing and we only have one opportunity to live and do it safely.
  • Secondly, it’s the RIGHT thing to do!
  • And thirdly, it’s empowering to be capable to intervene in unsafe acts.

We are empowered by our leaders who create conditions in the workplace so that people are able to make the right decision or action, and being capable means having the necessary knowledge, skills and experience.

When they hear about HSSE, most people think about procedures and systems that need to be put in place at work to get some form of compliance within the organisation. At Pragma, we see it as a very important part of our company’s culture and values. This means that HSSE is something that we live 24/7 – every hour of every day of the week and not just an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. tick box exercise.

Doing the right thing means living according to Pragma’s Four Golden Principles:

  • comply
  • intervene
  • respect
  • reduce, reuse and recycle.

Speaking to your neighbours (at work and at home) when you see them performing any actions that are unsafe, not conducive to good health or harmful to our environment and its sustainability is crucial. A good example of this was when the building next to our offices in Bellville underwent some maintenance. Our employees intervened on numerous occasions when the contractors’ employees were working on unstable ladders and unsafe scaffolding. The outcome after our intervention was that the contractor’s employees started seeing the light, and were not willing to continue without the necessary safety equipment. This forced the owner of the company to comply with the laws and regulations.

Goal Zero – what is that?
We have adopted a Goal Zero culture in Pragma and we strive towards a goal of “no harm to people, assets, environment or our reputation”. These are intrinsic rights which we must protect.

We can achieve Goal Zero by critically looking at small personal changes we can make in our lives which will ultimately make a big difference. If we look after the small things, the big significant things will automatically be looked after. We need to focus on logging our:

  • potential incidents (PIs – something that has not yet happened, but could cause harm)
  • near miss incidents (NMs – something that has happened and did not result in damage or injury, but under slightly different conditions could have had a major consequence)
  • incidents (an unplanned event that has undesirable consequences).

When we share the lessons learnt from these reports we can prevent similar events occurring.

What about personal safety?
Personal safety is not like a light switch that you can turn on or off. The personal safety switch must be continuously in the ‘ON’ position. We can make Goal Zero personal by critically observing our own actions, interactions and activities that can lead to PIs or NMs or an actual incident, however big or small they may be. Look at the activities and habits you may have and actions you perform on a daily basis. Carefully note what the factors are that could harm you in any way.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I continuously looking for risks and passionately intervening to mitigate them?
  • Am I constantly checking my procedures and my team’s performance to drive excellence every day?
  • Do I need help and where can I find it?
  • Am I actively learning from my own and other’s mistakes?
  • Am I being personally accountable for my safety and of those around me?

Goal Zero has been integrated into Pragma and is a hot topic for all. Why not track your very own HSSE performance – set your own reset criteria? You can download your own personal Goal Zero clock that runs on your PC desktop.

What is the biggest risk for your employees?
In Pragma, driving is the biggest risk faced by our staff! In this year to date, Pragma employees have logged 80 driving related incidents! All of us are exposed to the risk of road accidents, whether we walk or use private or public transport.

In support of mitigating Pragma’s biggest risk, all Pragma employees who travel more than 8 000 kilometres per year for business must undergo defensive driver training as well as fitness to work assessments. One of our much debated topics in the past year has been the use of cellphones whilst driving (Life Saving Rule number 10). In the US, more than 1.6 million accidents are caused each year by cellphone use and texting while driving.

The following list of 12 Life Saving Rules is a summary of the most common scenarios where people are most likely to endanger themselves. We include it here as a reminder of how to protect yourself against injuries/fatalities.

  1. Work with a valid work permit where required (legislation stipulates that high risk work must have safe work procedures).
  2. Conduct gas tests when required (working with flammable vapours and confined space entries).
  3. Verify isolation before work begins and use the specified life protecting equipment.
  4. Obtain authorisation before entering a confined space.
  5. Obtain authorisation before overriding or disabling safety devices.
  6. Protect yourself against a fall when working at height.
  7. Do not walk under a suspended load.
  8. Do not smoke outside designated smoking areas.
  9. No alcohol or drugs while working or driving.
  10. While driving, do not use your phone and do not exceed speed limits.
  11. Wear your seat belt at all times while driving!
  12. Follow prescribed Journey Management Plan.

It is our endeavour to make these rules a part of our daily lives. What about you and your organisation?

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