Zero Harm and multiple NOSCARs
This year’s NOSCAR ceremony saw power stations from the coal, nuclear and peaking portfolios within Eskom Generation Division walking away with several awards. It is clear that our national electricity provider takes occupational health, safety and environment (SHE) very seriously indeed.
According to Roley McIntyre, senior manager for safety and assurance in the Generation Division, “Eskom believes that zero harm to people, plant and environment is achievable and actively promotes the value of safe work practices throughout the business. This underpins Eskom’s safety and health philosophy i.e. “everyone returns home safely and healthy, every day”.
“To be able to achieve this level of performance Safety Health and Environment (SHE) is non-negotiable,” he says. “All employees, including the divisional executive are seen as SHE ambassadors who must be their ‘Brothers/Sisters Keeper’, and who have the ‘Right to Refuse’ any work that could endanger their lives, create serious injury or harm the environment.”
This attitude to employee safety, health and environment is something that is embodied throughout the organisation. “Five Cardinal rules have been put in place to further protect our employees and contractors from danger in the work place,” continues McIntyre.
A total of 11 power stations from Eskom Generation Division each won a NOSCAR – and all of them are already multiple Platinum award winners. The winners (in alphabetical order) were:
• Acacia Power Station (peaking) – 4th Platinum
• Drankensberg Pumped Storage Scheme (peaking) – 12th Platinum
• Duvha Power Station (coal) – 9th Platinum
• Gariep Power Station (peaking) – 3rd Platinum
• Kendal Power Station (coal) – 4th Platinum
• Koeberg Power Station (nuclear) – 13th Platinum
• Majuba Power Station (coal) – 10th Platinum
• Matimba Power Station (coal) – 2nd Platinum
• Palmiet Pumped Storage Scheme (peaking) – 11th Platinum
• Port Rex Power Station (peaking) – 2nd Platinum
• Vanderkloof Power Station (peaking) – 6th Platinum
Speaking on behalf of Eskom’s Generation Division, McIntyre commented: “A NOSCAR award is the pinnacle achievement in the world of occupational SHE, and is viewed as an excellent achievement by leadership.” This view of being awarded top recognition is filtered down to all employees.
Our business units are driven to achieve zero harm to people, plant and environment, and they use the NOSCARs as an international benchmark in their quest to achieve this goal, annually striving to maintain and better their previous results – it certainly is a motivating award,” he added.
Louis Jacobs, senior advisor SHE for Eskom Peaking Generation, concurred: “For us, good SHE practice is part of our Zero Harm value – nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our people at Peaking. For every year a NOSCAR is awarded it is a confirmation for us that we have worked safely and met all the legal requirements for SHE. This also means that we compare with the best internationally when it comes to safety, health and environmental issues.”
Peaking is also proud that all its sites are now NOSCAR recipients. Peaking Portfolio ensures that SHE forms an integral part of the work culture at its eight sites (including five-star rated Ankerlig and Gourikwa), and Peaking as a whole – management as well as employees – all play their part in making all Peaking power stations safe and healthy places to work in.
Eskom’s Nuclear portfolio comprises of the Koeberg Power Station. Ronnie Behr, Koeberg safety assurance manager, says the recognition a NOSCAR brings is proof of Koeberg’s, and specifically Eskom’s commitment towards Zero Harm. “The station is very much focused on the well-being of Eskom staff, contractors, visitors and surrounding community,” says Behr.
The Duhva Power Station is subject to annual in-house home-grown training by the Risk Assurance Management Group. “This also plays a pivotal role in that these key people are kept abreast with the new developments in the areas of health, safety and environment. They are also ’work-shopped’ on the Duvha SHE Standard to ensure that they understand the entire systems requirements,” says risk assurance manager Octavia Mohale. The fruits thereof, says Mohale, are realised during the bi-annual SHE Audits. If anything is awry, corrective action is taken in time to ensure there are no repeat findings during the external annual NOSA Audits.
SHEQ Management was fortunate enough to get some comments from safety and risk assurance managers within the division as well, shedding some light on the more practical side of implementing the type of SHE practice that makes them eligible for a NOSCAR.
“Majuba Power Station has been following the NOSA system since 1993. In 2000, we received our first NOSCAR award,” says Philip Barnard Majuba safety assurance manager. Barnard maintains that Majuba has been able to retain its NOSCAR status through the commitment of all its employees as well as its service providers. “Although the NOSA system was introduced and implemented during the construction phase, the successes of Majuba have been based on improvement of the initiatives that are implemented across the business unit,” he says.
The initiatives taken to support the requirements are numerous. They include: weekly scheduled plant walk-downs by supervisors and management to check housekeeping and interact with the employees; defect monitoring through production risk meetings; regular site inspections by safety personnel and carrying out job observation on critical activities; internal audit programmes to assist departments to comply with the NOSA system requirements and legislation in general; encouraging a culture of open communication between employees and management in safety committees of the station (including service providers, who are well integrated into the station’s safety structures and committees); thorough screening and monthly compliance audits of service providers to ensure compliance, sustainment and continual improvement in terms of the government’s and the station’s requirements; and regular awareness campaigns to improve the unit’s safety culture as well as performance. Again, the employees at Majuba strive to live the Zero Harm value.
Another power station that won a NOSCAR – Matimba – accredits the organisation adopting a SHE culture as the secret behind its winning formula. “By this, we mean regular auditing of the system to ensure that conformance with mandatory SHE requirements is met,” says Fulufhelo Tshikhudo, Matimba risk assurance manager. “Prior to any NOSA audit, we ensure that regular intensive audits are done internally so as to ensure that the entire system maintains the highest quality performance and conforms to the legally prescribed standards.
“The management of risk in any human endeavour requires careful and objective consideration of the environment within which one operates,” continues Tshikhudo. “At Matimba, the risk management process begins with understanding the operating system, identifying, assessing and managing the associated risk factors throughout the entire energy generation value chain.”
At Matimba, guarding against elements of deficient SHE culture is a priority. What this idea speaks to are elements such as the reluctance to question the decisions of a superior (a propensity for procedural violation); failing to create a corporate atmosphere in which SHE is understood to be and accepted as the number one priority; failing to publish guides and manuals aiming to help safety managers create “good SHE cultures” in their departments; and ignorance of enhancing organisational quality, for example inadequate communication and the employees’ level of competence.
At Koeberg, Behr says, an integrated SHE system is implemented. This is “based on the ISO 14001 (environmental) and OHSAS 18001 (health and safety) standards, to ensure sustainability in terms of the employees’ health, safety and the environment”.
“The achievement is also evidence of management’s commitment, involvement and support to ensure that the risk to staff, plant and the environment is kept as low as possible,” he says. Behr mentions that the next milestone for Koeberg is to be recognised as one of the world’s best utilities in terms of health, safety and environment.
Currently, Duvha is aiming to also achieve its OHSAS 18001-2007 certification. This process is run concurrently with the NOSA Integrated SHE management system. Again, audits play a pivotal role at Duvha, where they are seen as a learning tool to develop SHE performance and address issues. All the departments and contractors are challenged to score no less than 95% in their bi-annual SHE Audits. “Safety is not a destination, but a journey. It is not a matter of luck, but a matter of commitment, and requires a concerted effort by all the role players concerned,” says Mohale.
“The Generation Division has embarked on a visible, felt leadership programme, where all senior managers spend more time on the power station plant with a view to ‘catching people doing things right and safely’, and if not then discussing the dangers of the job with the individual or team,” says McIntyre.
“This has paid good dividends in reducing our serious accidents. We encourage our leaders to only have one conversation with employees, not two! The first conversation is all about safety of employees, with the employee rather than with the family of an employee after an accident – ‘say it with safety not with flowers’ should always be the guiding principle.”
It’s clear that Eskom’s organisational value of Zero Harm forms a common thread throughout its divisions, instilling an appreciation of the issues surrounding occupational Safety Health and Environment. It’s also clear this isn’t the last time we’ll be seeing representatives from Eskom on the stage collecting their many NOSCAR awards.