Exploring how companies in the FM sector promote HSE. – By Megha S. Anthony
When it comes to taking care of one’s employees, all organisations have to undertake the responsibility and duty of keeping them or any other person who may be affected by the companies safe at all times. A wide array of workplace hazards present risks to the health and safety of people and the larger environment. These include but are not limited to, chemicals, biological agents, physical factors, adverse ergonomic conditions, a complex network of safety risks and a broad range of psychosocial andenvironmental risk factors.
It is in this backdrop that the concept of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) gains significance. A progressive modern organisation is expected to commit itself to the health and safety of all its workers and extend this further to the environment. As a matter of fact, a number of Facilities Management providers have already stepped up their game in developing HSE procedures. From risk management to accident investigation, health awareness seminars to more practical exercises on fire and emergency preparedness, the HSE segment is quickly gaining traction amongst FM ranks. Programmes are beginning to look at not only internal improvement but that of the surrounding communities as well.
So, what makes a good HSE policy? Experts believe that a good HSE policy entails that the facilities and properties are set up with the best and most relevant standards and practices. Therefore, it is essential for FM companies to maintain a high level of HSE standards in their operations. However, the risk factors vary depending on the sector they cater to and the FM solutions also initiated based on this.
Many experts in the industry believe that the best way to reduce HSE risk factors is during the design stage. But, more importantly, once the facility is under operation, they say that the HSE risks could be managed with a combination of routine inspections, maintenance and also emergency risk control measures. Here’s a closer look at the HSE initiatives currently deployed by some of the region’s FM firms.
Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is an important but often neglected practice in the workplace. HSE management not only makes businesses more productive, efficient, and profitable but it also results in significant reduction in costs related to accidents. Imdaad, a provider of integrated facilities, environment and energy management solutions in the GCC, has put in place a robust system to ascertain the well-being of its over 4,800 employees. The leading company leaves no stone unturned in ensuring a safe work environment and promoting safe work habits and practices for the security and welfare of its staff in demonstration of its core value of ‘People’.
To ensure that its objectives and goals are met, Imdaad’s own Environmental Health Safety and Quality (EHSQ) Department has initiated ‘Project SHARE,’ which stands for Safety and Health Awareness and Recognition Enhancement. The project has in effect sustained and institutionalised the HSE culture within the organisation.
‘Project SHARE’ comprises three elements to drive and build a solid HSE culture in Imdaad. One, it aims to train all the employees about occupational safety and security. Second, it seeks to reinforce HSE practices through year– round campaigns. Lastly, it aspires to reward and recognise employees who imbibe HSE in letter and spirit.
Training programmes have been introduced to rapidly build HSE awareness and train employees on emergency response procedures. They ensure that all existing employees receive refresher training in order to guide the company’s new recruits. Yearround HSE awareness campaigns have also been conducted via the intranet, social media, and orientation sessions to instill a culture of workplace safety among all employees.
Further, employees who have faithfully adhered to the HSE norms have been duly recognised and awarded. Two awards were instituted in this regard, namely the ‘Safety Man of the Month’ and the ‘HSE Employee of the Month.’ Both were in addition to a ‘Green Card’ award developed to honour employees demonstrating safe practices in their daily work routine. These undertakings have led to enormous benefits, including improved lost time accidents ratio and increased employee satisfaction, which also bolstered Imdaad’s overall work performance.
Imdaad strictly adopts a zero-tolerance policy to unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions and practices with HSE & Quality management being considered as a value and not a cost. To address evolving workplacerelated challenges, the company will continue to explore advanced and innovative ways to create a safe and healthy working environment for both office and site-based employees. These include regular site inspections and visits, provision of cool water, clothing, and head covers necessary during summer, and recycling and other environmental protection programs.
At Cofely Besix Facility Management, creating and maintaining a safe and healthful work environment is a core value. For this reason, we constantly seek ways to improve and find innovative solutions towards continual improvement in HSE performance.
Toolbox Talks: One of the first initiatives we developed and implemented successfully was aimed at reducing our ‘Lost Time Incident Frequency Rate’. We realised that two of the key areas we needed to target was ‘knowledge’ and ‘awareness’ of workplace hazards. As such, we developed and implemented weekly toolbox talk meetings, and our approach was to keep these meetings brief, focusing on important safety issues that affect all employees. The ‘Toolbox Talks’ quickly became an institution throughout the company, and are now posted widely at all our sites, and have even been adopted by various other institutions. Since we introduced the Toolbox Talks, we have consistently achieved our goal of ZERO harm for almost 3 years, and are heading for 5 million manhours without a lost-time injury.
Near Miss Reporting System: It is widely accepted that for every fatal or serious incident that takes place at work, at least 600 ‘near misses’ or ‘close calls’ occur. By introducing a ‘Near Miss Reporting System’, we aim to promote a culture of reporting thereby preventing future incidents from happening, which may lead to serious or even fatal or catastrophic consequences.
1. Hazard observation cards are distributed throughout the company where employees have easy access to them. These are used to report ‘near misses’.
2. The root cause of each near miss reported gets investigated and opportunities for imrpovement are identified.
3. These are then implemented and monitored for effectiveness.
HSE Mentorship Programme: With the rapid growth in our business, the demand for recruiting new HSE personnel increased. However, getting the right people with the right experience proved more of a challenge than we expected. We are now in the process of expanding a program to accommodate employees aspiring to pursue a career in HSE, to undergo an internship program as HSE Inspectors.
Through our CSR initiative we embarked on a programme whereby we identify employees to be re-trained to become a HSE Inspectors and subsequently, HSE Officers. The internship (mentorship) programme runs for a period of 12 months under the mentorship of the QHSE Manager, and is a well-planned process with key milestones. These milestones are loosely based on elements taken from the Body of Knowledge from the American Society of Safety Engineers and the Australian OHS Education Accreditation Board.
Those selected for the programme are assigned to HSE Officers to provide job-shadowing on a daily basis, whilst 3600 evaluations takes place weekly and monthly by QHSE Supervisor and the QHSE Manager. As well as the mentoring process, special projects are assigned to the interns, targeting specific knowledge areas such as site inspections, risk assessments, conducting inductions and tool box talks etc.
All activities, progress and achievements are recorded in an intern log book which is periodically reviewed, and this enables us to identify which learning areas required additional mentoring, whilst revising our learning targets and objectives. Interns also undergo formal NEBOSH Training, OHSAS 18001 Lead Auditor Training, First Aid, as well as training in Air Monitoring, Confined Space Entry, Scaffold Inspection, to name a few. The internship culminates in the recruits being registered with the Abu Dhabi EHS Centre (OSHAD) for registration as OHS Practitioners.
Emrill has implemented a number of initiatives to reinforce our culture of excellence in health and safety, and this is driven at every level of the organisation with the single most important aim of ensuring that everyone behaves in the safest way. One such established practice at Emrill is the ‘Don’t Walk By’ initiative, which empowers our colleagues to identify unsafe conditions, acts or environments, and raise a Don’t Walk By to ensure that the problem is rectified prior to work continuing. We summarise the Don’t Walk By process campaign as see something, say something and do something.
Further driving our H&S practice forward is our Safety Action Group (SAG) initiative that comprises several groups spread across the region and led by the teams active on each project discussing issues relevant on their site or contract. These teams analyse incidents that have occurred or may occur in the future, review data from Don’t Walk Bys and individual concerns that may be raised.
These Safety Action Groups report into the organisation with incidents and actions leading to a monthly meeting focused solely on Health and Safety at the very top of the business. Emrill’s Safety Action Groups have led to many specific improvements such as the Ladder Stabiliser, cycle training, club car operator training, ad revised Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety foot wear, hard hats, safety harness and gloves. The Ladder Stabiliser initiative has also received regional recognition where Emrill won the Health & Safety Initiative of the Year Award in May 2016.
Focusing primarily on the health of our colleagues, Emrill has its own dedicated Welfare team that has introduced various sporting and healthcare initiatives over the years such as regular eye tests, blood tests, yoga classes for women, boxercises and the extravagant annual Emrill Carnival. Every year, the Carnival runs for 3 months covering more than 40 events with over 4000 participants. This is a great platform for employees to dedicate time towards health and sport while enjoying and networking with colleagues. The Welfare team has also setup sports clubs in various sporting fields such as football, swimming, cricket, running, etc., where the teams compete in national and local events.
1. Emrill’s goal with these initiatives: As far as the Health and Safety of both our colleagues and all those impacted by the services we deliver there can only be one goal that is – ‘Target Zero’ and the initiatives mentioned earlier provide a range of solutions to reach this ultimate target. A key goal is to ensure that the Health and Safety of our people is driven at every level with everyone empowered to make the right decisions and put forward proposals that protect all those that we come into contact with.
2. Stats to support the success/impact of the initiative: Emrill achieved 21 million safe man hours without a lost time incident in the business between 2015 into 2016 to date with over 95 per cent of our projects remaining accident free during 2016, going on to reiterate that doing the right things makes ‘Target Zero’ achievable.