A chemical reaction to safety
Occupational health and safety is paramount in any industry, but some have to compete with public perception as well … Senmin, a manufacturer and supplier of chemicals to the mines, is showing that this industry is stepping up to the plate when it comes to health, safety and environmental sustainability.
Human perception is fascinating: it’s easily amendable and notoriously difficult to change at the same time … It’s no wonder that people cringe or go “(environ)mental” when confronted with some of the things that happen in the chemical industry.
Companies such as Senmin International, with its main operations and distribution centre based in Sasolburg, are demonstrating that this industry is serious about occupational health, safety and the environments they operate in … which isn’t going unnoticed.
The company won its fifth Noscar, at this year’s Noshcon awards banquet, in recognition of its health, safety and environmental management practices. “These accolades enhance the image of chemical companies to the public at large,” says Frans Labuschagne, operations director at Senmin.
He adds that it is important to have unbiased, third-party proof of your safety standards. “You need to have a good safety record to be acknowledged by NOSA. An award such as this demonstrates – to the public and our clients – our high safety standards and adds weight to our safety claims.”
These include that the company is able to safely handle, distribute and prepare potentially dangerous and difficult chemical reagents on site. “Senmin strives towards a safe work environment for all employees, customers and the community in which it operates,” says Labuschagne.
Senmin’s manufacturing plant also boasts various International Organisation for Standardisation (known as ISO) accreditations; namely ISO 9001:2008 (certificates for quality management systems), ISO 14001 (accreditation for environmental management) and the international NSF certification for PAM plants, which allows the products to be used in drinking water and food applications.
The company states that, in 2007, the crucial need to improve the utilisation of scarce resources, such as water and energy, was amplified in the mining industry. It responded to this by investing in chemical technology, building its new production facilities and expanding its capacity in order to meet the growing demands of mines throughout South and southern Africa, Australasia and Chile.
Senmin, along with its supply chain and logistics service provider, Cargo Carriers, and tanker manufacturer, GRW, is also pioneering a safety feature in vehicles used to deliver chemicals to the mines.
Andre Jansen van Vuuren, divisional director for marketing at Cargo Carriers, explains (as reported in a previous edition): “It is standard procedure in the industry for drivers to climb up onto the top of the tanker, using a ladder, and physically open the manhole, then visually monitor the discharge from the top – thereby ensuring that the tanker is empty before departing.”
In order for the liquid to be discharged from the bottom of the tanker, a manhole, situated at the top of the tank, needs to be opened. “Opening the manhole allows air inflow from the top – creating a suck and flow type action – allowing product to be discharged through the bottom of the tank,” says Jansen van Vuuren. “If this doesn’t happen, the tank will cave in and crumple like a Coke tin – there are tremendous pressures and dangers.”
To address this, Senmin, Cargo Carriers and GRW developed a pneumatic valve (to open the manhole from the bottom of the tank) along with a Perspex “spyglass” on the discharge pipe – ensuring that no product remains inside the tanker.
It is clear that this chemical manufacturer is serious about health, safety and the environment. Looking towards the future, Labuschagne is unwavering: “The goal remains: zero injuries and minimal impact on the environment.”
See you at the next Noscars Senmin.