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Pragma employee wins second place in national research competition

Rudwin Gertze
Rudwin Gertze.

Rudwin Gertze sets his sights even further

Pragma Operations Administrator in the Shell FMC team, Rudwin Gertze, finished in second place in the national Unisa research competition with his study on Investigation and Analysis into Process Safety Fundamentals within the South African Oil and Gas sector, specifically Petrol Stations.

Says 32-year old Gertze: “UNISA presented a national competition whereby researchers from around the country submitted their study. I was selected as one of the five finalist who made it to the final round, and was invited to Pretoria on an all-expenses paid trip to present my research. I was over the moon to finish in second place.”

Born and raised in Kuils River, Cape Town, Gertze will always see himself as a Northern Suburbs lad. “I completed my first degree at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), where I studied Public Management and Law. I’m currently pursuing a degree in Safety Management through Unisa. Working at Pragma and being exposed to its strong safety culture, especially within the Shell department, introduced me to a whole new world. But the true driver for me choosing this course was Lyronne Sigamoney. When I started at Pragma, Lyronne was the Safety Manager at the time and watching him doing his job with such passion daily, influenced me greatly. I developed a real passion for safety, especially within the petrochemical industry.”

Gertze’s research focussed on Process Safety Fundamentals. “I wanted to go a step further and include the elements of Risk Normalisation, Dilemmas and Care. I’m of the view that these three factors are leading contributors to the Process Safety Fundamentals not being adhered to and being non-compliant. I’m really passionate about this and entered the competition as an opportunity to learn more about this field and gain in-depth knowledge of the industry. Of course the best part is that I get to contribute to the standards that can prevent accidents and save lives,” he says.

According to Gertze, Process Safety Fundamentals emphasise existing good practices to reduce unsafe acts and conditions. He explains: “Preventing Process Safety incidents is of enormous importance as they can escalate into catastrophic events. You can just imagine what could happen when safety measures aren’t adhered to at petrol stations. With regards to the competition, my main objective was to create awareness around safety at petrol stations.”

Gertze believes safety fundamentals are as important at petrol stations as at home. “Even if I didn’t win anything, I wanted the audience to think about it when they’re at home. So many incidents can be avoided if technicians and contractors are more aware and receive more training. The same applies at home,” he adds.

Gertze is excited that he could still be chosen as a representative to attend an international university to do more research. “That would be so awesome as they will then fund my research on my return as well as publish it. If this happens, I’d have more influence and it will enable me to implement some of my recommendations e.g. create an app for the public to identify risks at petrol stations and receive points which they can then use for discounts on fuel purchases or coffee. I have so many ideas.”

His dream for the future is to learn more about safety in his industry and influence different segments of the market including upstream (oil rigs), midstream (refineries) and downstream (retail/petrol stations).

His other dream is for a united South Africa. “We need more leaders in this country, especially in the situation we are in now. Yes, our country seems to be in a very dark place right now, but we as the youth MUST take responsibility to not only make a difference now, but also to become men and women of influence so that we can guide the younger ones to become a better generation. We need a generation of true leadership. Become the Malcolm X’s, Dr Kings and Mandelas of our time.”

Although he sounds very busy, he loves “to not only to play competitive table tennis but also coach the youth as I believe it’s a way of keeping them off the streets and out of gangs. I also play drums and league cricket. I love being part of our praise and worship group at church. And last but not least … I love playing Xbox!” concludes Gertze.

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