Safety, Health and Environmental M

 

Safety, Health and environmental Management

 

                                Introduction

Safety, heath and environmental issues have become topical in present day business. All these aspects promote sustainable development. Accordingly, principles of corporate governance emphasise on environmental management and responsiveness to all stakeholders’ concerns and aspirations. Safety, health and environmental management are commonly known as SHE or HSE, depending on which geographical position on earth you do your business. In this discussion the writer will use SHE as representing, Safety, Health and environment. SHE management will stand for Safety, health and environmental Management. Other people elsewhere use HSE, meaning Health, safety and environment. From this presentation it appears that this subject is made up of three components. Most people would refer to it as three in one; meaning three components (Safety, Health and environmental management) are quizzed into one subject. In this discussion the writer will deal with each component separately. At the end of it there would be a small summary linking all these three into one. The reason why these three aspects are dealt with concurrently is because there are no distinct demarcations between these three. How can you separate health issues from safety concerns? We can not deal with issues of health and safety without addressing issues related to environment.

Safety, health and environmental issues are of utmost importance to any business venture. These must be addressed to meet several requirements, which are political, legal, ethical and economical. There are many topics that come under the SHE program, which include compilations of health and safety statistics, health and safety campaigns, investigations of accidents and incidents or complaints, among others (Hughes 2009).The main reason for SHE programs is to monitor, review, enforce, evaluate, health and safety laws, regulations and ethics. Therefore each organisation must ensure that there are people who are responsible for this function. In other companies there is a SHE department that deals specifically with these aspects. This department is headed by a SHE Manager, who is responsible for creating his department’s strategic plan and action plan. In other smaller organisation SHE issues are in the human resources function, where the Human Resources Manager deals with this particular field among others.

Health

Let’s look a bit more at the area of health. It must however be borne in mind that health issues are not divorced from other SHE issues. According to WHO, quoted in IPMZ module (2004: 41) health is defined as,” a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity.” So an individual’s health state comes from the absence of disease, injuries, stresses and other physical constraints. This calls for safety issues. IPMZ (2004:42) adds, “Health management is the care and maintenance of the health of individuals in both the preventive and therapeutic aspects.” Preventative means deal with prevention of things that can make a person ill, or stressed or injured. Equipment must be maintained. Those people who work with machinery and equipment must be trained. All dangerous things found in the environment must be removed. In a company there must be a specific person to deal with these issues. The Production manager and his department are worried with production and not much concerned about these issues.

The second aspect in health deals with therapeutic aspect. This deals with the medication of affected people. Injured people or sick people must be given medication. In some organisations  there are trained medical personnel , such as nurses and doctors. This can also include the building of clinics or hospitals in organisations. The health department is responsible for all these. The other aspect of health is on counselling. People with problems must be counselled. These may be problems related to pay issues, domestic issues or related problems. The trained corporate counsellor will be able to deal with such problems. If a person has such problems that person is not in a state of health. The other aspect that comes here is of industrial welfare. This deals with social issues that affect the workers, ranging from sanitation, recreation, awareness programs and other social aspects. The idea is that if the labour force is assisted in such a way, then the issues that affect the employees’ health are addressed. What really therefore comes under health discussions? The health issues in any organisation can be understood by the carrying of the following functions. The functions include the prevention, diagnosis, treatment of diseases or injuries. The affected people will need to be rehabilitated. That makes up the health function in an organisation.

This sounds very simple, but it is not simple at all. The other issues that are involved in this complex process include surveillance. There is need to survey on diseases that are likely to affect our people, issues that are likely to psychologically affect our people, the hazards in the surroundings, facilities that need improvement or to be introduced. Analysis is another essential element. The results that come from surveillance must be analysed and sorted into meaningful information. This includes statistics of prevalence of diseases. The health department, therefore must come up with action plans to deal with suspected negative phenomena. Under health issues there is industrial welfare. Main issues under industrial welfare include social services, regulations of rest, and regulations on working hours, social insurance, special protection, accommodation and sanitation. Attention to the above will assist the company to meet required health standards.

 

 

Safety

The next fundamental aspect of SHE is safety. According to IPMZ module (2004:41),”safety organisation is best understood by listing the responsibilities of the various groups and individuals in an organisation and then to identify the work which each group and individual must do in this regard.” In the organisation various personnel are given the responsibility to deal with safety issues. The main people and groups are, the CEO, the Production Manager, the supervisors, the forepersons and the employees. These individuals and groups must perform their tasks accordingly in order to achieve SHE goals, mission and vision. The personnel department will act as the overseer of these functions and operations of the various groups. The emphasis of safety is on the identification of specific hazards which lead to serious consequences (Smith and Simpson 2004). The hazards are in various forms. These include chemical hazards, physical hazards, biological hazards as well as psychological hazards. Chemical hazards relate to the misappropriate use of chemicals. Chemicals must be used according to the given specifications. Physical hazards are dangers arising from physical materials or structures. Examples of physical dangers include poor roads, faulty machinery and falling apart residential buildings. Biological hazards include the presence of disease-causing organisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. The presence of dangerous organisms such as snakes’, spiders, mosquitoes present a biological hazard. The SHE department must work to eradicate or minimise such hazards. Psychological hazards deal with those issues that cause stress and mental trauma to people. Harassment at work, uncalled for punitive actions are among those dangers. The management and all responsible personnel must ensure that such dangers are eliminated or reduced to minimal levels.

In the same vein, the scope of safety is to reduce risks. Risks are always there. There is need for assessments on what could be risky to people. Risks arise from the environment and the activities of the workers. Smith and Simpson (2004:3) say,” There is no such thing as zero risk.” This implies that various individuals and departments must work cooperatively to identify risks and find ways to deal with such risks. Continuous effort must be made to reduce risks. There is no point in time where people can say that there are no dangers in the organisation. Threats will definitely stay. Simpson and Smith (2004:3) add, “… there is no human being who makes zero errors.” The company must make sure that efforts are put in place so as to minimise the errors that employees make. Training and counselling helps to reduce mistakes. Awareness programs and signage assist to remind employees of the need to avoid certain dangers.

Inspections are also necessary to reduce dangers and mistakes that can be dangerous. Hughes (2009) identifies frequently cited inspections worksites as scaffolding, fall protection, hazard communication, respiratory protection, ladders, lockout, electrical faults, machine guarding among others. These areas need proper and continuous attention in order to reduce dangers and accidents. Another essential aspect in safety management concerns signage. Warning signs tell employees and visitors of dangers and prohibitions that must be followed. Signs such as the following must be erected; “do not attach anything to this instrumentation, wear goggles and rubber gloves when handling chemicals, Danger- high voltage, restricted area-authorized persons only.” There are many other signs which we see wherever there is danger. These signs remind employees of the need to act accordingly in response to the signage. Hughes (2009) talking  about the requirements of a safe workplace includes the maintenance of floors and the provisions of walkways and safe stairways.

Environmental Management

The next aspect is on environmental management. The issue of environmental management arise from the need for sustainable development. It deals with the conservation of natural resources for the betterment of all humans. The environment must be protected. This issue is mainly focused on the need to have sustainable development. Emlemswag (2001:7) says, “Sustainable development is focused on the interplay of the environmental, economical, and social dimensions.” Companies impact mostly negatively on the environment due to pursuing economic goals on the expense of the environment needs. Profiteering must not be the driving force behind the existence of organisations.  The continuity of the environment and life on earth must also be focused on. What is done in organisation must be in a way that human existence must be perpetuated forever. The way we live today must be the way our great-great-great grand children must live and to eternity. As human beings we must preserve the environment in which the other human beings must live well in a million years to come. As people who are conscious of our existence and the need for other generations’ existence we must contribute meaningfully to the perpetuity of the human race and of the universe. Accordingly, Friedman (2003) say those companies should synthesise their business goals and the environmental goals. It therefore implies that companies must create policies and procedures that aim to protect the environment and to create ecological balance and sustainability. Such goals can be achieved through training and education as well as awareness campaigns. The company, through the SHE department must come up with a company vision that is environmentally focused.  There should be environmental management work plans that are crafted to preserve nature and the general environment. The creation of waste management systems, energy conservation strategies go a long way to create corporate sustainability. Morris (2004:1) says,” the implementation of an environmental system (EMS) that minimises the environmental damages… is becoming almost mandatory.” Conserving the environment is now not a matter of choice but almost a must.  Our vision of the future and mankind demands us to do the best towards mother earth. It is also mandatory in that most governments, if not all, including the international community have put in place legislation to protect the earth. The Geneva Convention on climate change and other follow up international forums had a focus on preserving nature, possibly to keep it to its pristine form. Unfortunately that is a bit too late now. But they say better late than never; that is the philosophy which many organisations have adopted. In Zimbabwe the government has come up with the Environmental management Act, which spells all the requirements which companies must meet. A regulatory board has been put in place (The Environmental Management Agency), to inspect the operations of organisations in relation to environmental management and the compliance to the laid up protocols. Hanaki (2008) talked of environmental management as comprising of waste management, water conservation, sewerage reticulation and disposal, river system management, water resources management, and energy management. Emelswag (2001:7) adds that,” … a company’s environmental impact comes from (excessive or wasteful) consumption of natural resources and emissions of pollutants to our air, water and land. It is essential for companies, therefore to work towards eradication or reduction of pollution as well as reducing wasteful use of the natural resources in its own territory. another issue which Hanaki includes is on dismantling of buildings and the recycling of metallic and plastic waste. The management at each corporate level must deal decisively with such issues. Barrow (2008:5) says, “Threats include natural random and more predictable physical, human induced changes like global warming, pollution and the introduction of alien species, social problems and war fares…” The organisations must put in place strategies to deal with such and similar issues. Organisations must not get involved in activities that damage the environment. However the profiteering urge of some companies put the environment under threat. Take an example of an agricultural company that produces genetically modified foods and organisms. Is that environmentally friendly? Is that natural? These laboratory-created organisms will have a negative and long run impact on the environment. How will the world react one day when scientist produces a GMO_human being? Will that product be environmentally suitable and friendly? This is what companies must guard against in their profiteering quest, which may be insatiable.

Integration

After considering the three main aspects of the SHE subject let us turn our attention to what can be comprehensively done to deal with the issues of SHE. The following strategies and responsibilities will work in respect of health, safety and environmental issues. The first issue is on management responsibilities in SHE issues. The first responsibilities lies with the board of directors. The decisions and way forward of the board of directors are rested with the chief executive officer (CEO) or general manager. The general manager’s main role is the creation of SHE policy and procedures. The policy will ensure consistency in the implementations of strategies and work plans. The Highest responsible person (GM or CEO) has the sole responsibility to ensure that there is a SHE policy that is supported by SHE procedures and recommended practices. The code of conduct that supports the SHE policy must be put in place. Friedman (2003) recommends that there should be strong corporate policies and procedures, as well as a responsible information system. The following shall be issues that should be clearly spelt in a SHE policy (Ridley 2004):

  • Name of director responsible
  • Other members responsible
  • Responsibilities of each member
  • Role of join consultation
  • List of agreed safety rules
  • Aims
  • objectives
  • Existing safe work systems
  • Procedures for carrying out risk assessments
  • Incident reporting and investigation
  • Controls of safe use of chemicals
  • Arrangement for dealing with emergencies, including evacuation
  • Methods of disseminating SHE information
  • Training facilities
  • Procedures for joint consultation
  • Use of personal protective clothing
  • Welfare arrangements and facilities
  • Any other related matters
  • Corporate vision and values as they relate SHE

Management must as well do the following:

  • Ensure the work place is safe
  • Ensure the premises is safe
  • Provide safe equipment
  • Provide a reliable safety system
  • Ensure that there is enough supervision
  • Management must put in place control measures to reduce risks and hazards
  • Must put in place reliable assessment and evaluation system
  • Resources must be made available to the SHE management system
  • Audits must be done, and follow up actions be put in place to deal with inefficiencies
  • Establish SHE control programs
  • Establish SHE committee

Intex.mht identifies the following management functions

  • Auditing and inspections of all premises and activities
  • Responsible for carrying environmental assessments
  • Ensuring compliance with the national and international legal frame works and recommendations

Ridley (2008) advised management to do the following additional duties:

  • Providing preventative and protective measures
  • Health surveillance for diseases
  • Providing competent health and safety advice

 The employees have many duties and expected roles to play. They must according to Haggar(2008) do the following:

  • Abide by all the rules and regulations given
  • Abide by the code of conduct as it relates to safety issues
  • Report any dangers or risks they come across on a day to day basis
  • Always wear the required protective clothing
  • Cooperate with management on management recommendations

 The following accordingly are the roles of the Human Resources Department:

  • Ensuring that the law is followed
  • Training all deserving employees on SHE issues
  • Keeping accurate records of injuries , diseases and misdemeanours related to SHE issues committed by employees
  • Assist in carrying disciplinary actions on faulty employees
  • Ensuring that the recruitment process enhances SHE standards and aspiration
  • Carrying out a suitable induction program in SHE issues

According to Bates (2006) the following are the duties of the personnel department

  • Allocation of responsibilities and accountabilities
  • Creating required engineering standards
  • Carrying out job analysis
  • Carrying out job safety analysis
  • Responsible for education and training of all workers
  • Enforcing these responsibilities
  • Making available medication
  • Responsible for the rehabilitation exercise

SHE committee must do the following:

  • Establish SHE work plans
  • Recommend safety procedures and practices suitable to the individual company

www.laborguide.co.za adds the following duties of the SHE committee as follows:

  • committee must make and recommend on best practices to management
  • must discuss and keep records on incidents that take place at work
  • discussing incidents , injuries and illnesses that occur at the work place

The government has its own responsibilities as well. These are as follows: ( Tinsley 2001)

  • Creating a suitable legal frame work
  • Enforcing certain training programs
  • Carrying out inspections and assessment.
  • Carrying out awareness programs
  • Establishment of Universities and Colleges who offer courses in SHE

Front line Supervisors have their duties. These are:

  • Reporting hazards and risks which their subordinates face on a daily basis
  • Instructing the workers on correct work procedures
  • Ensuring that safety procedures are followed
  • Obeying safety orders
  • Ensuring proper housekeeping in their respective areas
  • Disciplining employees who do not follow safety procedures

Cultural Perspective

The other essential aspect the organisation has to create is a culture that promotes safety and environmental awareness. In some studies that were carried there has been a relationship that has been identified between the recurrence of accidents and the rate of accidents and the corporate culture. So in order to reduce accidents and mishaps at work there is a need for a cultural approach. The human resources department plays an important role in creating a culture that promotes safety consciousness. Antosa (2009:15) says,” culture refers to the values that the members of group shares, the norms they follow and the objects they create.” This means the management must instil in the workers the need to reduce risks and eliminate unwanted incidents. The essence of the organisation’s culture on safety can come about as a result of the involvement of the top management. A strong talk on the need for safety by the CEO can assist a lot. The presence of the human resources manager on safety training workshops, can for example, show the seriousness of management in dealing with safety issues. Antosa (2009) emphasises the point that risks are aspects that are ingrained in certain cultures. There are cultures that tolerate risks and some that discourages risk. Therefore a company can create its own culture, whether it is tolerant or not to risks. Antosa (2009:15) further puts on the argument that, “organisational culture may be a source for the creation of safety by being a medium for the communication of safety-critical knowledge.” ACSNI (1993) quoted in Antosa (2009:16) says about culture ,it is, ” the product of individual and group values , attitudes perceptions, competencies, patterns of behaviour that determine the commitments , and style and proficiency of an organisation’ s health and safety management.” So the organisation has a responsibility to mould a culture that is safety conscious. This can be achieved through timely communication, awareness campaigns, rewards and penalties for good achievers or offenders. The nature of conditioning in a company helps to create certain attitudes, perceptions and commitments. So the management has a responsibility to create a culture that emphasises the need to enhance safety and acceptable environmental and health standards.

Inspection Procedure Done

On 1 December the writer carried out an audit of all the main required aspects  at Chipinge Banana Company, according to our Agricultural background. The writer moved from place to place having interviews and observing the conditions on the ground. The results are published elsewhere as an attachment. However there have been a few risky things identified during the auditing. Recommendations to reduce the dangers have also been made. The current main risks are as follows:

  • Idle items lying around the Packshed and Workshop
  • Non-availability of washing facilities in the vicinity
  • Some materials are not properly staked,  especially the props
  • No enough rubbish bins in the residential areas
  • Large number of people per dormitory
  • Ratio per use of toilet is as high as 48
  • There are no toilets in the farming area per se
  • There are no change rooms
  • There are no safety showers
  • There are no eyewash facilities
  • Ventilation in the Storeroom is very bad
  • No enough first aid facilities
  • There are no antidotes in stock
  • The chemical storage cabinets are not safe
  • There is no quick alertness system in case of emergence

Other essential facilities needed are listed here

  • Labelling of exits and entrances
  • Making necessary demarcations
  • Identifying resting place and eating rooms
  • More first aid training
  • Making accident/incident reports and investigations
  • Put in place work manuals
  • Displaying of emergence procedures
  • Having an alarm system

Action plans have been put in place to address the above issues.

It is a big task to achieve a company that has high standards in regard to safety, health and environmental management systems. A good SHE system reduces costs, creates a good public image of the company and has a high level of employee loyalty and involvement.

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