Air Products South Africa is reflecting on the success of its formal occupational health and safety programme, which it claims has set the standard in sustainable health and safety management and gained industry-wide recognition.

The company has developed the programme over a number of years, which has proven highly effective and involves not only strict adherence to legislation, but a company-wide culture of proactive safety awareness.

The result has been a demonstrably low disabling injury frequency rate (DIFR) at several of the company’s production sites; and a consistently exceptional performance in the management of occupational health and safety. Further, the company’s risk-based health and safety management system is highly comprehensive, and takes into consideration both local and global elements.

Air Products South Africa can reflect on this hard work paying off, with industry recognition and repeat accolades achieved at the annual NOSHCON conference and awards in the country, held by NOSA.

“At Air Products South Africa, occupational health and safety means ensuring that we provide a workplace for our employees that will not cause them harm through injury or illness,” said Sue Janse van Vuuren (pictured), Corporate Risk Manager at Air Products South Africa. “We have worked hard to achieve this objective: both through systems compliance, and a deeply-entrenched culture of safety throughout the organisation.”

“In South Africa our health and safety management system is designed to ensure compliance to the global Air Products systems, as well as local legislation. In addition, we use the NOSA Integrated 5 Star System (Health, Safety and Environmental Management) as our benchmark.”

Air Products was particularly successful at this year’s NOSHCON awards, with no less than six of the company’s sites winning the highest honour – a ‘Noscar’ – as van Vuuren explained, “A Noscar award is the highest accolade given by NOSA to companies which are certified on the NOSA 5 star system.”

“The criteria include exceptional performance in managing occupational health and safety for three consecutive years. Air Products won our first Noscar in 2003, and since then we are proud to have been awarded approximately 47 Noscars on our various sites around the country.”

Air Products’ site winners this year were Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Witbank, Springs, Empangeni, and Newcastle. Air Products Empangeni was also the National Sector Winner.

An effective occupational health and safety programme that complies with changing safety and environmental legislation requires constant updating and reviewing, however, which is why Air Products does not rest on its laurels.

“At Air Products we continually strive to improve our health, safety and security performance in order to achieve our ultimate goal of zero injuries,” van Vuuren concluded. “We do this by ensuring our risk assessments are reviewed and updated regularly, and effective control measures are put in place. Thorough investigations and root cause analysis on incidents and near misses are also conducted, and corrective actions implemented to prevent reoccurrence of similar incidents.”