Gas products supplier Air Products South Africa has, over a number of years, developed a formal occupational health and safety (OHS) programme, which has proven effective, and has gained recognition in the health and safety industry.
The safety programme involves not only strict adherence to legislation, but a companywide culture of proactive safety awareness. The result has been a low disabling injury frequency rate at several of the company’s production sites, and consistent performance in the management of OHS.
Air Products’ corporate risk manager Sue Janse van Vuuren states that, at the company, OHS means ensuring that Air Products provides a workplace for its employees that will not cause them harm through injury or illness. “We have worked hard to achieve the objective through systems compliance and a deeply-entrenched culture of safety throughout the organisation,” she says.
Owing to the nature of its processes and products, the gas industry may be a potential hazardous working environment. As a result, the company’s risk-based health and safety management system is comprehensive, and takes both local and global elements into consideration.
Janse van Vuuren explains that, in South Africa, the company’s health and safety management system is designed to ensure compliance to the global Air Products systems as well as local legislation. In addition, Air Products uses the NOSA Integrated Five Star System as its benchmark.
The company’s hard work pays off yearly as it receives industry recognition and repeat accolades at the annual NOSHCON conference and awards. Six of the company’s sites won the highest honour – a “Noscar” – at the 2015 event. The criteria for a Noscar include exceptional performance in managing OHS for three consecutive years.
The site winners of the 2015 Noscar awards were Witbank, Springs, Empangeni and Newcastle. Air Products Empangeni was also the National Sector Winner.
“The Noscars enable us to measure how well we are doing in providing a safe workplace – in comparison with other companies – and also provides our customers with the assurance that we are effectively managing any potential risks,” comments Janse van Vuuren.
An effective OHS programme that complies with changing safety and environmental legislation requires constant updating and reviewing and Air Products willingly rises to the challenge, she affirms.
Janse van Vuuren points out that Air Products continually strives to improve health, safety and security performance in order to achieve its ultimate goal of zero injuries. It does this by ensuring that risk assessments are reviewed and updated regularly, and that effective control measures are put in place. Thorough investigations and root cause analysis on incidents and near misses are also conducted, with corrective actions implemented to prevent reoccurrence of similar incidents.
Air Products focuses on continually reinforcing policies and procedures throughout the organisation, by training and proactively involving each member of staff.
“The commitment and dedication of our management and staff is pivotal to developing a sustainable safety culture at Air Products, and maintaining our track record for safety excellence,” she concludes.