NOSHCON does it again
Stirring stories of battles long past, banquets, stalls, prizes, green beer and Tina Turner. Such was the stuff of Noshcon 2013. SHEQ MANAGEMENT reports on its annual pilgrimage to the leading safety, health, environment and quality convention in southern Africa.
Bringing together respected speakers, suppliers, buyers and people eager to hone their occupational skills from across a plethora of work sectors in the southern African industry, Noshcon is famous for being a yearly social and business hub for all those involved in health, safety and environmental (HSE) management.
Held at the Champagne Sports Resort, at the foot of Drakensberg Mountains, this year’s event continued the Noschon legacy spanning more than half a century.
Greg Morris, chief executive officer of Micromega, says: “Nosa is committed to investing in product and service innovations to meet the growing needs of its diverse customer base. The company continues to benefit from the pressure on organisations to comply with HSE standards and has, therefore, seen a continued growth in business over the past year.”
Both the number of exhibitors and delegates increased this year. Over 20 presenters shared their thoughts and views with the attendees, often to the applause and praise of their audience.
Among those who shared with the crowd were presenters such as Bob Henderson (president of Good for Gas) who delivered a seminar on atmospheric hazards and Ashish Nagar (senior SHE manager of CLP India), who shared India’s community-driven innovations in SHE practices.
Parallel to the seminars were examples of learning through entertainment. Losika Consulting used a series of comedy plays which had the crowd learning lessons and aching from laughter at the same time.
Another example of creative speaking was that of Rob Caskie, who opened Noshcon’s proceedings with enthralling accounts of the Anglo-Zulu Wars.
Alongside the stalls and conferences, a team from Nosa’s first aid division completed 30 continuous hours of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to draw attention to the importance of
First Aid in the workplace. This formed part of preparations to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for continuous CPR over a seven-day period in 2014. Considering the determination with which they braved their target, it might just be that they have what it takes.
As can be expected from Noshcon, food and entertainment were abundant. Various shows and speakers, such as traditional dancers and DJs, entertained the crowds, followed by enthusiastic dancing and all round partying among the attendees until the wee hours of the morning.
During the closing ceremony, an incredibly talented set of musicians wowed the crowd with some uncanny impersonations of famous rock and pop icons such as Freddy Mercury and Tina Turner. The conference was far from over, however, as after the music it was time for the annual Noshcon awards.
“Nosa strives to enhance the values of the occupational risk management industry while ensuring that the industry continues to grow and develop,” states Justin Hobday, Nosa managing director. “Noshcon was introduced to provide a platform for HSE professionals to share their knowledge and the international awards banquet allows us to give recognition to organisations and individuals that continuously commit to providing safe and healthy work environments for employees. We are honoured and privileged to host this annual event and to recognise organisations and individuals as leaders in HSE management within their respective fields.”
According to Hobday: “Recipients of Nosa awards are recognised internationally as organisations that show measurable and remarkable dedication to maintaining the highest levels of excellence in occupational risk management performance.”
Along with the stands, organisations in the HSE fields also advertised various new technologies and practices. Nosa was proud to launch two of its own new products: Incident Management Systems (IMS) and online Safety Management Training Courses, also known as SAMTRAC e-learning.
This year’s Noshcon was a huge success. People learned, shared, socialised and then repeated these steps throughout what seemed like a lightning-quick week.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, the beer really was green.
Keynote speaker at Noshcon 2013, Rob Caskie, delivered a powerful story of the struggles, blunders and mismanagement of the Anglo-Zulu battle of Isandlwana. By taking a look at the martial practices of the 19th century British Empire, much can be learned that is relevant to modern SHEQ management.
Having spent a great deal of his life studying the Anglo-Zulu War, the adventuring yarn-spinner Caskie has twice been asked to speak at the Royal Geographical Society and, like the students of The Art of War, believes there is much that businesses can learn from military history. Luckily for us he was at Noshcon this year.
Instead of retelling the blood-coated slice of history that Caskie so graphically presented at Noshcon, this summary offers some insights Caskie provided to his audience as to the trials that many in the SHEQ field will inevitably face.
During the first few centuries of warfare, firearms, muskets and arquebuses were clumsy to wield and reload and were ill-suited to hand-to-hand combat. An expert spearman could easily overcome a bayoneted musket, and archers fired arrows more quickly and with greater accuracy.
But the musket was one thing spears and bows weren’t – devilishly easy to operate. By maintaining discipline, basic musketry could be taught to anyone in a fraction of the time it took to learn swordsmanship. This meant that armies could be trained and replenished faster due to the technological ergonomics of the musket.
The SHEQ lesson learned? When combined with correct training and systems management, new technologies will increase efficiency and sustainability.
Despite its clear dominance as the weapon of choice of practically all European armies at the time, the musket did not necessarily mean absolute domination over one’s enemies.
Traditional combat weapons, such as the sword or spear, took years to master and with those years also came significant amounts of martial experience. When the British army set up camp at Isandlwana inside the boundaries of Zulu territory, on January 22, 1879, it was the martial experience of the Zulus that prevailed over the English at the first killing field of the Anglo-Zulu War.
The British camp had been left in the charge of brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Pulleine, a military bureaucrat who had, in his 20-odd years of service, very little true combat experience. It is quite possible that, because of this inexperience, basic tactical principles such as striking their tents before the conflict (to avoid them obstructing manoeuvres), as well as leaving their encampment (containing ammunition and supplies) completely unguarded, were not undertaken by either him or his men.
As the Zulu impis encircled their enemy in their famous “bull-horn” attack formation, armed with assegais, the British troops – with all their superior Martini-Henry breech-loader rifles, swords, and PPE – were slaughtered almost to the man because of the ineptitude of their commanding officers.
Although the British soldiers fought bravely they fought in vain and after barely an hour of conflict the battle noise at Isandlwana died down to the collective whimper of more than 2 000 dying men.
The SHEQ lesson learned? Never be complacent. Despite the best staff training and technologies, there remains no substitute for experience. Mismanagement and the inexperience of leaders can, and eventually will, cripple any operation. Only when training, technology and experience are wholly integrated is success possible.
CLP India’s practical safety, health and environmentAL innovations
Having won a string of awards from Nosa, CLP India’s senior SHE-manager, Ashish Nagar, shared the company’s community-driven innovations at Noshcon.
On January 25, 1901, the China Light & Power (CLP) Group was founded in Hong Kong. At that time barely a 10th of a megawatt of electricity per annum was demanded of CLP.
In 2002 it acquired the Paguthan Combined Cycle Power Plant in India. This was the beginning of CLP India and since then its portfolio has grown with several more plants.
CLP India has since received Nosa five-star accreditation and, being ISO 14001 certified, it complies with high environmental conservation standards.
Ashish Nagar, senior SHE-manager at CLP India and speaker at Noshcon 2013, explained why this powerhouse has been able to achieve such a high standard.
According to Nagar, training, community cooperation and integration are key in sustaining the correct SHE spirit of the entire workforce as well as the communities to which they belong.
For CLP India, awareness starts at home. SHE courses are given to family members and communities and SHE-clubs outside of the work environment are also supported the group.
An example of the company’s attitude to eco-friendliness is that short-range employee transportation to and from work is done using bicycles. Although this may seem unsafe, bicycles require little training and no licences. Another example of eco-awareness is that trees are planted in lieu of presents on staff birthdays.
The promotion of a positive attitude to SHE throughout the company helped make it a Noscar winner. During monthly
SHE-centred inspections, all staff and management are equally involved. A dedicated “suggestion scheme” is implemented at each plant where everyone can submit suggestions to improve SHE practice.
Nagar’s presentation was praised by Noshcon attendees, showing there is much to learn from CLP India.