President of Saiosh, Robin Jones, asks where we should start to improve occupational health and safety (OHS):
“Years ago, I read a book on firefighting in the United States (US), which focused on injuries to firefighters. The book made three broad statements:
The answer given in the book is that: “there are always NEW firefighters”.
Over the last 12 months or so, I have been privileged to listen to a number of exceptional speakers telling us about the many ways to get results in terms of reducing injuries to employees. I have heard about some companies that have achieved spectacular and sustained decreases in their injury rates.
Sadly, in spite of all these activities and achievements, across all industries we still continue to injure employees and, in some cases, lose workers through fatalities. Some industries, unfortunately, show a higher rate than others.
The prevention of accidents and injuries could have started as far back as 1941 when the Factories, Machinery and Building Work Act was introduced. Credit must first be given to the mining industry, though, which had legislation introduced in (as far as I’m aware) 1910.
Again: If all the requirements for a safe workplace and safe working conditions are known, why are we still injuring and killing employees?
I could borrow the American firefighters theory, that there are always new employees, but, instead, I want to repeat an anecdote that colleagues have often heard me quote:
Have you ever seen a safety officer with bruises on his/her forehead? The bruising comes when the OHS practitioner runs into a brick wall known as management.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to work with dedicated management, who were committed to the principle of OHS being a partner in the running of the business, and did not like short cuts. I had management who listened, set the example and “walked the talk”…
How can this dilemma be solved?
I would suggest a threefold approach for all management:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the OHS practitioners. In addition, look around and learn from your peers. Find out how successful companies get results with injury reductions.
2. Our current legislation, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, is a world-class tool for assisting management to control the workplace and reduce accidents and injuries. The Department of Labour is currently reviewing the Act to improve it even further. Learn to use it rather than reject it.
3. Make safety (the freedom from harm) just as much a part of the business as any other process.
This isn’t the only solution
The great thing about OHS practitioners is that they are resilient. In addition, they have a common motto: “safety is for sharing”. Members must respond to articles and voice their impressions and suggestions. Whether comments are favourable or unfavourable, the sole purpose is to learn how to get an accident-free environment.”
– Saiosh President Robin W Jones
Staying healthy and safe at work is important. No matter what your job, it is important to reduce your risks of injury and illness at work.
Here are some tips to help make your workplace safe.
Nobody thought that one day we would fly airplanes powered only by the sun, but this is exactly what Solar Impulse has achieved, breaking record after flight record. Yet humanity’s greatest achievements are rarely the effort of one person. Standards offered a common language to turn this impossible dream into reality. “Without [standards] we would never have been able to understand each other,” says Borschberg. “The Wright brothers did not have the benefits of standards… If they would have them, I’m sure they could have done it quicker. And maybe they could have gone further. That is what we do today and that is the reason why we progress.”
A new generation of wearable robots can help people confined to wheelchairs to walk again. It can also give ordinary people super strength. But developing this technology had its challenges – how to ensure the product would be considered safe and be easily adopted. A new standard for personal care robots proved key, guiding these innovators in the right direction. “ISO is very important for promoting new designs,” says Prof. Sankai, “we couldn’t have done it without ISO”.
Food security. Water scarcity. Not enough arable land. These are some of the most pressing issues facing the developing world today. Naty Barak tells of the struggle of growing crops in the dessert… until they came up with a technology that made the most of scant water resources by irrigating the plant and not the soil – drop by drop. For Barak, “this will bring real revolution to the developing world,” moving it from subsistence farming to commercial farming. But to make drip irrigation easily available, standards are needed to ensure compatibility and optimum quality at low cost. “The developing world deserves to get the best, and the best is achieved if you follow the standards,” concludes Barak.
Every new invention is built on a history of extraordinary human achievements, many of which are found today in ISO standards. At the forefront of innovation, they offer practical solutions to the challenges faced by many industries. By creating a solid base, a common language and an added layer of confidence, ISO standards let our greatest minds concentrate on what they do best – pushing the limits and taking us to new places.
Like businesses, academic institutions cannot run away from the reality of globalisation. Technology has turned the world into a small village and local activities are today impacted by global forces.
The same forces are shaping education trends. The world is so networked that the education requirements in developed countries are more or less similar to those in developing nations. Qualifications for many professions are globally standardised.
Which is why is it critical for learning institutions in Kenya and Africa to strive to grow students into global citizens.
This intervention can be more impactful if provided all the way from pre-school to high school as these are the foundations of developing a person’s character and professional structure.
The Council of International Schools (CIS), which has a presence in Africa, could form a good starting point for Kenyan learning institutions seeking to benchmark themselves with the best in the world.
Global bodies have set standards for schools that encourage improvement of different aspects through accreditation. It works more or less the way ISO certification does for conventional organisations.
Benchmarking touches at the core of education and individual development. It reviews, for instance, the school culture and partnerships for learning, governance and leadership, teaching and learning as well as faculty, support staff and the general operating ecosystem.
If our learning institutions focused on these key aspects and benchmarked themselves globally, Kenya would have high quality schools that would in turn produce globally compliant graduates.
Global certification comes with a number of benefits international recognition and commitment to high quality international education standards.
Certified schools devote to rules and focus on quality of teaching and progress of students. Above all, bench-marking would help schools to plan strategically for the future.
It’s easy to see the impact of international benchmarking. In Kenya, for example, schools that have joined CIS and met its requirements are among the best in terms of quality education and are some of the most admired even across the continent.
They include Braeburn School, Brookhouse International School, Braeside School, Greensteds International School, International School of Kenya and Oshwal Academy Nairobi.
International accreditation brings about not just change in learning, but most importantly a shift in the mindset of students, teachers and other staff to have a global scope.
The centre of gravity is shifting as technology changes how goods and services are made and consumed. Often, talent managers resort to the global market whenever supply of certain skills is limited in their jurisdictions.
When schools instil these global qualities in students early enough, they join the universal pool of talent and can thus take up jobs in any part of the world. This is one way of addressing unemployment in Africa.
Don’t be tempted to cut corners, one day your luck may run out and either you will be hurt or you may be responsible for injuring someone else.
Obey the law, follow company policy and procedures and be vigilant; stop unsafe acts or non compliant situations.
A widely recognised animal with an average length of 4.5m, but specimens of over 6m are not uncommon. The Nile crocodile is widespread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, occurring mostly in the central, eastern, southern and some western parts of the continent. Inhabits many different types of aquatic environments such as estuaries, lakes, rivers and marshlands.
For assistance with spider bites, contact the Poison Information Helpline on +27(0)21 931-6129
Using the Venomosity Rule of Thumb, the initial pain experienced by the patient, and the factors that influence the severity of a scorpion sting, we can predict the severity of future symptoms.
To better understand the expected severity of scorpion envenomation, remember: Scorpions with small pincers and a thick tail are more venomous than scorpions with large pincers and a thin tail.
For assistance with spider bites, contact the Poison Information Helpline on +27(0)21 931-6129
If you have any doubts on whether the work you are doing or your workplace is safe, stop work and inform your line manager/ supervisor. You have the legal right to stop work if you feel you are in serious and imminent danger. Also if you see any one else working unsafely you should report this to your line manager/ supervisor or local Safety Officer.