Safety passports take off in SA
In the United Kingdom (UK), major corporations in many sectors have embraced safety passport schemes to reduce workplace accidents caused by outside contractors, who may pose a risk if they lack the health and safety training specific to that particular industry.
Now a Cape Town-based health and safety consultant, Gavin Wilson, has brought the concept to South Africa. His company, Safety Pass Alliance South Africa (SPA (SA)), operates under an exclusive license agreement with Safety Pass Alliance Ltd, the UK’s leading authority in health and safety passport schemes.
The safety passport is a robust and secure photocard that displays a tamper-proof photograph of each contractor who has successfully completed a two-day, industry-specific health and safety training programme. Contractors pay for the cost of the training on the understanding that their workers will not be allowed on site without their safety passports in those industries that subscribe to the scheme.
In the UK, Nestlé reported a 68 percent drop in workplace accidents in the first two years and a division of underground railway utility Metronet boasted a 75 percent drop in accidents in its first 18 months on the scheme. Locally, the SA Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) supports the scheme and is beginning to roll it out among participating members.
“The safety passport scheme introduces a uniform, standardised approach and is the first basic entrance to managing safety on a forecourt,” says SAPIA environmental advisor Anton Moldan. “Another advantage is that contractors don’t have to go through each individual company’s [health and safety] induction training prior to starting work, they do only one programme, and it is recognised by all the individual companies.”
Wilson adds that, importantly, the safety passport scheme also ensures the corporate meets its legal duty, in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to inform contractor employees of the risks associated with the activities on their premises.
As in the UK, local contractors and their employees must attend a one-day basic health and safety general awareness module, followed by a second day spent learning about the hazardous areas specific to the industry involved. The industry sector training modules are imported from the UK and revised, allowing industry representatives to review them and include training material specific to South African conditions.
Trainees must obtain an 80 percent pass mark on both modules and answer certain key questions correctly in order to obtain their passports. The SPA passport is valid for three years, after which the employee is required to attend a refresher course.