OHS in 2017: looking ahead

OHS in 2017: looking ahead

For the Saiosh Institute, the year 2016 was splendid. We hope to continue the trend as we enter 2017

I don’t want to turn this letter into a story about statistics, so I will keep it relatively short.

However, before our seventh birthday on February 10, we will probably have passed the 8 000 member mark! Second, in addition to all the benefits that are already in place for our members, we’ve added another one: our Bursary Assistance Scheme.

The Bursary Assistance Scheme (not to be confused with the Student of the Year Award) is to assist members who are out in the field and want to increase their qualifications.

The Bursary Scheme is valid for one year at a time. More details are available on the Saiosh website.

Who says wishes can’t come true?

In January 2016 this was one of my wishes:

When I read safety journals from the United Kingdom they contain articles which indicate where an accident occurred. The article contains the name of the company, the contravention of the law as well as the consequences of such action, for example fines or criminal prosecution.

I would like the Department of Labour (DoL) to publish (make available) the same type of information so that the South African public is aware of all the major accidents that have occurred.

My purpose for such a request is to create a learning opportunity for industries across the board. If an offence occurred and it was due to say a lack of explaining a workman’s scope of authority, then industry in general should be asking the question: “Have we covered that eventuality extensively in our organisation?”

I understand that the DoL is about to publish the intention to have a Register of Offenders. This may look like a name-and-shame register, but I see a storybook, which will help management and occupational health and safety (OHS) practitioners. We can then identify situations where employees were hurt while working. From this we can learn to take extra precautionary action.

To the minister of labour and all our friendly inspectors, you’ve got my vote of thanks!

Some lateral thinking

Other people in authority are also getting tired of safety rules being ignored…

Everybody knows that driving and talking on a cellphone (or worse, texting) is a bad thing. In fact, it is illegal. Certain municipalities have instructed their traffic officials to confiscate cellphones from such offenders. There is a R2 000 fine to pay to get the cellphone back.

In addition, there are heavy fines if you are not carrying your driver’s licence with you when stopped by an official. (I believe R1 000 has been considered, but it could be higher.) The Road Traffic Management Corporation is looking at taking the idea across the country. Again, all these enthusiastic people have my vote!

Not content with these few offences, the Justice Department cluster on legislation is going to look at upping the penalties for drunken driving, reckless and dangerous driving and perhaps a few other offences as well.

In some cases the legislation imposes a fine, which, in my personal opinion, is too small to make an offender sit up and correct the deviation. Take speeding for example. People with very expensive sports model vehicles (and who may speed) incur perhaps a R200 or R500 fine! And that would be in a vehicle costing in excess of R900 000.

Once again, legislators are putting on their thinking caps and the current idea is to match your income to the fine. This is very clever indeed.

A person who earns, say, R20 000 per month will then pay less for the same offence as a person earning, say, R450 000 a month.

In New Zealand, the authorities are strict on speed limits. The town speed is 60 km/h and they mean it! I was told by a South African visitor to New Zealand that it feels like driving in a slow motion movie.

Not so long ago, a man drove a Ferrari at 116 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. His penalty was a one-month confiscation of the Ferrari (plus a charge of reckless driving).

Moving ahead

Preparations for our annual conference at Gallagher Estate on May 30 and 31 are well under way. We’ve increased the number of international speakers and have a nice solid range of relevant topics for the delegates.

For more precise details go to the Saiosh website. In fact, while you are there be bold and book early for your place at the conference

I was honoured to receive an invitation to the FEM Safety Awards function held recently in Durban. FEM acknowledged the fine work done by its members in reducing workplace accidents and injuries.

At the function it was explained that, having completed the current insurance cycle, the FEM Board was going to pay back to members a higher, once-off additional portion of their assessments based on their accident reduction rate.

Some members have had spectacular reductions in injuries through sound OHS programmes. Members who have achieved less than a specified figure could receive up to 50 percent of their assessment back.

That was not the only good news. FEM announced to the highest achievers in the accident reduction programme, that the FEM Board had, in addition, granted a 100 percent assessment pay back. The top achiever was to collect a refund of R900 000. This was because of that company’s sustained efforts and diligence with regard to its safety programme.

How do you like that? Who said safety is expensive? Here is living proof that an excellent safety programme saves you money and as a bonus “pays back more money”.

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