A time for reflection
It is with mixed feelings that I write my first article for SHEQ MANAGEMENT. There was joy at recently being inaugurated as president of Saiosh before being saddened by the sudden loss of Robin Jones, immediate past president of Saiosh
I met Robin Jones, Neels Nortjé, and Siven Naidoo (among the founders of Saiosh in 2010) after joining Federated Employers Mutual Assurance (FEM) that year.
Jones had more than 40 years’ experience in the occupational health and safety (OHS) field. While he did not have a degree in OHS, he excelled through his enthusiasm and passion for this profession. He was charismatic and always willing to share information from his vast experience. We honour and pay tribute to a stalwart of health and safety.
The “technical“ economic recession cannot justify cutting corners in workplace safety.
According to FEM statistics there were 73 fatalities from about 4 500 construction companies in 2016. The mining industry also recorded 73 fatalities.
Workers are dying younger; in the construction sector, 21 of the deceased were under the age of 30 and the youngest was a 22-year-old female.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), working in hazardous conditions is a daily routine for many workers. Over 313-million workers suffer non-fatal occupational injuries each year, or 860 000 people per day. Every day, 6 400 people die from an occupational accident or disease, amounting to 2,3-million deaths each year.
OHS is an individual responsibility and the provision of safe care is an obligation of OHS professionals. A study on lagging versus leading indicators has been initiated and the findings will be presented in an article within the next few months.
I recently attended the Joint Corporate Investment Banking (CIB) W099 and TG59 International Safety, Health, and People in Construction conference, held in Cape Town.
The findings by international professors and lecturers suggest that there is a strong correlation between a well-designed workplace and improved worker health.
Saiosh recently launched its webinar platform (as detailed in the previous issue). It is anticipated that presentations will be conducted on special subjects that will earn continuing professional development (CPD) points. Webinar sessions are free and will supplement the ten free-to-attend OHS workshops that are held in five provinces twice a year.
Saiosh makes use of a state-of-the-art online membership programme. Using the online system members submit “contact forms” and Saiosh provides the necessary advice and assistance. During a 12-month period under review, Saiosh processed more than 13 000 online queries related to health and safety (including e-mail queries).
Saiosh submitted official comments to the Department of Labour (DoL) on the Draft Ergonomics Regulations. A webinar was also held for members on the comments that were submitted to the DoL. Saiosh is now part of the round-table discussion on Ergonomics Competencies.
There can be no doubt of the importance of the work that OHS professionals do in preventing accidents and saving lives. I’m proud to be associated with Saiosh and will work hard to achieve set milestones and continue with the Institute’s trajectory.
Saiosh membership continues to grow rapidly and averages at over 200 new members per month. I thank all of you for the vital work you do and for your professionalism in OHS.