Safety products supplier Bramhope Safety Solutions is increasingly being approached by South African organisations for their work apparel and personal protective equipment (PPE) solutions, Bramhope CEO Isak Marais tells Engineering News.
This is due to companies having to manage significantly large cost pressures and pressure from various unions to comply with industry safety standards, he adds, highlighting an increase in demand for specialised safety equipment, especially in the electrical and foundry environments.
Marais notes that various multinational market-leading corporations in the petro- chemicals, mining, electrical and telecom-munications industries are taking advantage of the cost-effective solutions offered by Bramhope. Corporations like these generally award three- to five-year contracts to support and supply their branches throughout Africa with safety equipment and PPE, including hard hats, protective eyewear and gloves. These contracts also include a total cost of ownership and risk reduction system designed by Bramhope in 2006.
“Currently, companies spend about 1% of their yearly budget on PPE. However, this figure focuses on item cost rather than total cost of ownership,” he notes. The total cost of ownership of PPE includes the item cost, procurement and holding or storage costs, as well as medical, downtime and legal costs if an employee is injured.
Bramhope provides a vendor-managed inventory (VMI) solution, which enables companies to reduce total cost of ownership and risk associated with PPE by managing the PPE inventory of companies and ensuring they comply with industry safety requirements.
The VMI solution includes planning, forecasting, procurement and management of companies’ safety apparel.
Marais notes that Bramhope can help companies reduce risk and total cost of owner- ship in several ways, the first of which is ensuring that the PPE it provides for com- panies complies with International Organis-ation for Standardisation (ISO) requirements.
He adds that budget constraints can also result in companies buying PPE that is not certified but meets the minimum safety compliance requirements of the industry. Subsequently, companies spend more money because they will need to replace the equipment, which is not fit for purpose, more regularly. Further, companies are then exposed to medical and legal risks, owing to the equipment not being certified by the ISO or the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
“Industry safety standards are constantly improving. South Africa uses SABS stand-ards, which are based on EN standards. However, there is a global trend for regional standards organisations, such as the SABS and the EN, to be overshadowed by the ISO,” Marais says.
He notes that PPE, particularly shoes and fire-retardant materials, is moving towards ISO certification to ensure products perform in accordance with industry safety standards. This helps ensure that there are no substandard products on the market.
“Another way in which Bramhope helps companies reduce risk is by developing a PPE policy, which ensures that all PPE provided for employees by a company complies with legal and industry safety requirements. PPE policies dictate which safety standards workwear and equipment must meet. Bramhope develops PPE policies based on companies’ occupational, environmental health and safety and human relations policies,” says Marais.
Further, Bramhope reduces the risk of legal and medical costs, as well as employee downtime, by compiling a PPE profile that entails identifying the specific risks associated with different working environments and subsequently supplying the corresponding PPE to companies. Bramhope also provides companies with a software program that predicts PPE consumption levels, plans a budget and provides the best inventory levels. This can limit warehousing costs, as stock levels are monitored and maintained at the appropriate level, which enables further savings, as the risk of theft is reduced because of the strict stock-control protocols in place when using the software.
“The software provides a monthly report of PPE consumption and companies are able to save up to 25% of their monthly expenditure on PPE,” Marais says.
He adds that a large portion of total cost of ownership is the cost of procurement and wastage, particularly in large organisations. “For large organisations to measure item use at an individual level is virtually impossible, as the PPE item cost is too low to justify it. Therefore, wastage often occurs at a micro level because the wrong products are supplied to an application. “However, the software Bramhope uses can measure use through a function that reports exceptions, thereby reducing costs associated with wastage,” he explains.
This function is activated by setting up the PPE profiling software to measure individual divisions, departments, locations or job titles within a company. “This allows companies to identify exceptions in PPE use, such as a welder using more gloves than other welders in a company. The software can also identify the possible reasons why such an exception occurs, such as the risk level of the welders being different or the wrong PPE being used,” he explains.
All data is secured and made available to companies by logging onto Bramhope’s cloud-based server. The data is visible in a dashboard-management information system, which makes large amounts of data easier to read and understand, explains Marais.
Bramhope also provides an online safety-training program, which enables customers to provide employee training at multiple locations simultaneously. “This service is designed to enable companies to use their own safety training or Bramhope can design the training for them,” he notes.
The program is flexible enough to allow for training at any time and also tracks employee performance, enabling companies to identify areas in which an individual is struggling. This will enable the company to provide further training for employees in these areas.
Further, the program is not attendance based and employees are required to pass online tests to prove competence. This enables companies to identify employees who understand and are competent in applying the necessary safety requirements and employees who require further training.
Bramhope also designs the program to be compatible with a company’s computer system, making it more user friendly, as it employs a design that is familiar to trainees.