The SHEQ managers’ compliance conundrum

Most SHEQ managers working for medium-size enterprises, with sites in several different countries, face some daunting problems to manage SHEQ systems with confidence.

Firstly, the corporate governance expectations from an organisation probably require running multiple systems such as ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 9001. Secondly, there is an expectation to ensure compliance to the legislation that is particular to every site, despite the sites being located in different countries within Southern Africa.

Compounding the situation is the likelihood that the sites are not all connected to a central intranet, where systems and documents can be centrally managed and accessed to facilitate standardisation across the organisation.

Are web-based applications the solution?

As corporate governance requires compliance to systems and legal requirements pile up, organisations are increasingly willing to accept that some of their business processes can be more effectively managed outside their own firewalls on web-based systems.

Nicolai Massyn, managing director of Green Gain Consulting, says a new version of a web-based SHEQ management system, DigiLex, had to be developed to meet the increasing needs of new and existing clients.

“With existing and new mining companies and industries investing in SADC countries, a new pattern of customer requirements have emerged. We find clients are insistent that they want more user-friendly systems, that meet their need of having access to the environmental and health and safety legislation for all their sites in different countries, on one platform. They also expect that different standards and disciplines such as ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 9001 and HACCP can be managed on the same platform,” says Massyn.

He further states that the growth in demand seemed to be more in the medium-sized enterprises than the larger ones. “We see that the big corporates usually have adequate resources to build and manage complex databases of legislation and management systems, but the smaller and medium-sized operations do not have the resources to provide these services in-house.”

Massyn indicated that the complexity of obtaining relevant and reliant legislation from some SADC countries was extremely challenging. “SHEQ managers should not be under any illusion as to the level of difficulty experienced when attempting to obtain information, and especially English translations of legislation, when dealing with SADC government officials.”

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