New Regulations And Standards
Since the vast majority of accidents in the workplace are caused by unsafe acts by employees, health and safety regulations are vital for any company. Your employees’ health and safety should always be at the forefront of your decision-making, and ensuring compliance with safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) rules is thus crucial.
According to Joep Joubert, group manager of BBF SHEQ Services, SHEQ policy is indeed the guiding document in the organisation to direct the efforts in this regard. “All policies, if they are to meet the requirements of the ISO Management Systems Standards, must address the provision for a safe and healthy work environment, protection against environmental impact and a commitment to quality. A SHEQ policy should establish a framework to ensure legal compliance and within which objectives are formulated.”
Joubert says the policy should also indicate a commitment to eliminating risks, addressing environmental aspects and not compromising on quality. “Furthermore, the policy should commit the organisation to continual improvement, consultation and communication.”
Ingrid Osborne, co-founder and CEO of Saryx Engineering Group, explains that with old, paper-based SHEQ files, complete compliance has always been extremely difficult. It was for this reason that her company developed its own online health, safety, environment and compliance tool to ensure better compliance. “Having an online tool makes the auditing process much simpler, which is vital, since auditing is critical to ensure effective SHEQ. Auditors help companies to identify where they are non-compliant, allowing them to close these gaps. Such a tool also enables you to measure your progress around what corrective measures are put in place.
“By utilising technology to your advantage, you can also significantly simplify the auditing process. An online tool makes updates, changes and audits much easier to undertake.”
Proper SHEQ training is a must, says Osborne, pointing out that by going digital, companies can make it easier for employees to access training when it suits them best. Online training can be scheduled by the employee when they have spare time, and now, thanks to remote work, they can even choose to do it outside of office hours.
Joubert agrees that training is one of the critical elements of any management plan to establish a safe, healthy, environmentally sound and quality-orientated workplace. “Firstly, you cannot expect anyone to do the job correctly if they haven’t been properly trained to do it. Secondly, employees need to be trained in the hazards and risks in their environment and, should an incident take place, be in a position to deal with the situation. Thirdly, training is often a legal requirement, such as hazardous chemical agent training or ergonomics training. It is also a strong requirement for ISO system certification.
“The final desired outcome should be that the training and post-training supervision actually lead to changes in behaviours and a safer, healthier, more environmentally friendly workplace, which ultimately produces better quality products,” adds Joubert.
Osborne reiterates that, as we’re living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital is the future. “There is no question in my mind that if you want a truly successful SHEQ solution, it simply must be a digital one – if only because, operationally, it makes you much more efficient, which in turn guarantees better compliance.”
As for Joubert, he says that the focus of SHEQ management is driven by compliance, mostly due to the legislative requirements that must be met. “However, I believe that in order to truly establish a strong SHEQ culture, the focus should be moved away from compliance and compulsion. Instead, the focus should be on care and instilling the desire to work safely for the right reasons. This entails not only a change in behaviour, but also a change in attitude,” he concludes.