Saiosh introduces Wall of Fame

Robin Jones (left) is inducted into the Saiosh Wall of Fame by Saiosh CEO Neels Nortjé.

The Saiosh Council has decided to recognise people who have contributed to the occupational health and safety field over many years, by establishing a Wall of Fame. Saiosh CEO, Neels Nortjé, explains.

In acknowledging achievements in two occupational health and safety (OHS) fields, namely the Saiosh Top Student of the Year and the Saiosh Person of the Year, the Saiosh Council considered the first nominee without the nominee being aware of the process.

The nominee was the Saiosh president, Robin Jones, who was inducted into the Wall of Fame at the Saiosh Conference, held at Gallagher Estate on May 24.

Jones has been practising OHS for more than 40 years. He started as a teacher and moved into industrial training. He persuaded the company where he worked to employ a safety officer and was given this role as an additional job.

Not having any idea where to start, he contacted other safety officers for advice. At Sapref Refinery, the safety officer said: “It will take too long to tell you over the phone. Come and have a cup of tea. Maybe I’ll have some scones and jam.”

Jones later moved away from industrial training and specialised in health and safety.

First he chose to adopt the phrase “safety is for sharing” – you don’t know everything, but someone out there can give you a helping hand. In later years it became Jones’s turn to help other new practitioners.

He believes you need to carry out your tasks with enthusiasm. He calls it the “measles syndrome”, which means that if you haven’t got it yourself, you can’t pass it on to others. Jones also believes you need to be honest in all your dealings with OHS. He always says: “Take the job seriously and never ‘hide’ an accident or ‘juggle the statistics’ so that the company looks good.”

To illustrate this philosophy, Jones reminds us that safety officers are trying to create a culture of safe behaviour among the employees. If you hide an unpleasant fact, or accident, the employees identify that you are not serious about looking after them, and form the opinion that you are a “management yes man”.

Over the years, Jones has participated in activities carried out by other OHS organisations. In the early years he joined the Institute of Safety Management (ISOM). He served on its Branch Committee in various capacities, such as the event coordinator and chairman. He was awarded Fellow status with that organisation, was the president for a term and was twice elected as the Safety Practitioner of the Year.

In 2010, together with six other colleagues, Jones broke away from IOSM and formed Saiosh. Between them the founding members had more than 200 years of collective service within the profession and within a professional organisation. Jones notes that being an OHS professional can be a tiring experience, especially if the work undertaken is not supported, or recognised, by management.

In this regard Jones has some clear advice: “Think of yourself as a “bop bag” – a little blow-up toy, weighted at the bottom, (usually in the shape of a clown), which small children knock over. Of course the bag just pops upright again. Eventually, the child gets tired of knocking over the clown. Management may keep knocking you down, but you keep bouncing back up. Eventually they will get tired!”

Jones has chaired and presented papers at many conferences. He has written articles published in professional journals. He has also been part of committees looking at ways of improving the OHS professional qualifications. Although he is now retired, he is still involved in OHS activities. He is a Chartered Member of Saiosh (CMSaiosh) and a retired Chartered Member of IOSH (CMIOSH).

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