We all know that HSSE is very important on any operational plant, building or facility and it is becoming more so. We asked Casey Wolters, Health Safety Security Environment (HSSE) Manager at Pragma, what can be done to avoid accidents.
As a start, it is important for a company owner and its management to know that they have to be legally compliant and in terms of safety, that they fully adopt the letter and spirit of the Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993. Furthermore, it is of vital importance, for the CEO and his management team to know that in their positions they are appointed, legally in terms of section 16.1 of the Act. When this is in place, numerous sub-ordinate legal appointments will have to be put into place, these being dependent on the type of industry the business is involved in.
The second, and very important point for the CEO and his management team to remember and implement, is the requirement of the Act and that is that the CEO has the ‘duty to inform’. What this means is that the CEO, through his organisation and systems, is required to identify the health, safety, security and environmental risks that his business is exposed to and that his employees are informed and aware of these risk. Furthermore, the CEO has a duty towards his employees to ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to reduce exposure of employees to risk, to a reasonably practicable level.
With regards to the general quick fixes that a company can put in place to comply with safety regulations in their asset management programmes, they need to ensure that all their strategic assets and especially those that may use, contain or generate hazardous energy sources or hazardous atmospheres, are maintained according to the specifications as stipulated in the relevant Regulations of the OHS Act. Some examples include: boilers are to be inspected every 3 years by the Pressure Vessel (PV) Inspection Authority; Lifting Devices and Gantry Cranes are to undergo annual Load and Deflection tests and certification.
The major type of risks that companies face when they do not have an asset management programme include, as the number 1 risk, the fact that they are highly likely to be in the situation of ‘failure to comply to the law/regulations of the OHS Act’. Furthermore, they run the risk of endangering their people and assets by exposing them to unplanned failures or stoppages, which could have disastrous consequences, in terms of people, assets, environmental spills and ultimately the company’s reputation as well.
Inadequate or poor HSSE standards in an organisation can have a widely varying effect on production losses. The small, minor ‘housekeeping’ issues may seem minor but when accumulated, and taken account of, may give one a significant shock when properly accounted for. The effect of a major production loss due to a significant incident, especially when there has been serious disabling injuries or even fatalities can be disastrous, to the extent that it may put the organisation out of business. Another slogan to remind oneself of the cost impact of safety is the following: ‘If you think safety costs a lot of money, try having an accident!’
At a company with a mature HSSE programme, one will find that the safety programme, as a key business objective, is given the same priority as any other key business objective – neither higher or lower priority, but the same. The slogan: Good HSSE business, is GOOD BUSINESS, is actively being lived in such a company.