Sheq team should relieve work stress
Safety, health, environment and quality performance combine to play major roles in core business, product, service and bottom lines, writes the stress and wellness specialist in this exclusive report for Sheqafrica.com.
Employers are duty bound, and legally required, to be actively concerned about their workers’ health and safety. Employers that show true personal concern and team spirit are irresistibly likeable.
Let’s face it, nobody really, genuinely likes the boss. Most believe that the boss’ main goal is just to make money without much regard to his or her employees’ concerns.
Having a sheq manager to measure and evaluate workplace safety and health, can help lessen the stigma of ‘selfish’ management.
Demonstrating sheq concerns also boosts worker morale and improves employee relations. It makes them feel appreciated and important to the company, valued and cared for.
The workplace is not a neutral place for health and safety risks compared to domestic or public spaces. Risk is quite easy to assess based on extensive research into experience of similar companies, whether your business is exposed to hazardous chemicals, dangerous equipment, machinery or traffic risks.
Management systems are not ‘installations’
Office and administrative workplaces are harder to assess. Hazards in such work environments are much less ‘physical’ than in highly industrial and technical environments.
Health impacts, service disruptions, bullying, violence and sabotage are some of the risks that cannot be assessed during inspections or at face value. Secondary risks like fire incidence, vehicles, and other emergencies outside the gates should also be anticipated and managed.
In air-conditioned offices, for example, certain bacteria thrive in mold or mildew fungi in filters, ducts, carpets, chairs, microwave ovens, kitchen surfaces and some types of vacuum cleaners.
Productivity losses from sinusitis, asthma, pneumonia and similar lost time health incidents quickly multiply and could stifle bottom lines. Even temperature levels and ventilation rates are crucial to productivity.
Occupational hygiene and ergonomics sound like esoteric pursuits, but they are solidly scientific practices that relate directly to the volume and quality of work that the average healthy workers could do.
Work volume and quality in turn, relates directly to profit. Risk assessment and operational risk management of any work environment support continued improvement in health and safe behavior, corporate culture, and loyalty.
Sheq specialists should be hired or consulted to conduct baseline studies and surveys in a dynamic work environment. Nothing ever stands still. A sheq management system is not a once off plan or ‘installation’, but a living system that could become ineffective, misdirected, maligned, obsolete, expensive, or even a risk in itself if not constantly studied, assessed and updated.
A workplace that is generally healthy, risk neutral and prepared for potential incidents and disruptions, does not constantly have to deal with employee absences, insurance claims and crisis management.
Sheq audit and emergency planning
Internal and external audits should regularly test the entire management system, including sheq elements, and should be considered part of management. Emergency planning and emergency response is one of the acid tests of good risk management.
In case of a major incident, the sheq department helps management to respond, minimise loss, investigate, report, and adjust management system aspects that need improvement.
Appoint a sheq all-rounder, or build a team
Sheq management systems usually evolve from managing potentially fatal risks, to injury risk, to health risks, then to environmental impact risk. In these times of rising energy costs, rising population density and shrinking natural resources, environmental and quality aspects of sheq are gaining importance.
Sheq as communication catalyst
Competent sheq management reduces management workload, anxiety and stress, while it could serve as a communication catalyst among workers. Toolbox talks, green area meetings, occasional circulars and chats with sheq reps, all serve to involve workers in helping to manage risks that are relevant and important to them.
Sheq is a rallying point for participative management and for sharing a safety culture that easily translates into building a positive corporate culture.
When the people who work for you know that you care, they value their work and output more.
Sheq appointments criteria
The above outline should be translated into a set of skills required of a sheq manager. Setting up a company is challenging and immensely detailed. It requires deft certainty about multiple pieces of legislation, as well as a deep understanding of relevant market conditions, authorities and labor market culture.
Business success hinges on the validity of a set of assumptions made from data during planning and restructuring stages. Managers and business owners must constantly assess and consider how to manage operational risks, including aspects of workplace health, wellness, impacts and corporate culture.
Reducing carbon footprint is one of the most important environmental measures that companies must consider. Reducing procurement, stock and wastage works in synergy with reducing health and safety risks.
Owners and managers should regularly check whether operational risk management skills capabilities and capacity are adequate and reasonable for the work environment and for the business sector.
Few CEOs or divisional managers have all the required training and experience, so hiring a sheq manager or sheq team is crucial to setting up a fool-proof sheq management system that works within the general management system.
Protect workers to protect your business
The sheq team should include a board champion, CEO, sheq manager, committee, full-time HSE representatives, and part-time or permanent specialists in either safety, particular occupational risks, occupational medicine, workplace health, hygiene, enviro impacts or quality.
For a smaller sized company, the responsibilities to advise managers on risk assessment and management, and to manage system quality, can be given to one person.
The job includes legal register, compliance, system audits, training adjustment, signage, physical barriers, some process aspects, as well as emergency planning and drills.
PHOTO; Ryan Rivera is an anxiety survivor and founder of Calm Clinic.
Latest posts by Edmond Furter (see all)
- Labour minister calls for Marikana labour leadership - May 15, 2013
- Compensation letters of good standing delay work - May 15, 2013
- May Hermanus to lead CSIR mining environment research - May 13, 2013