The NOSCAR Awards have once again seen Air Products in a starring role this year. Employees from around the country were honoured for their consistent commitment to safety at the company’s nationwide facilities.

Run by the National Occupational Safety Association (NOSA), the prestigious NOSCAR awards take place at the annual NOSHCON conference, and are a highlight on the calendar for companies such as Air Products, who take their performance and commitment in all aspects of health and safety extremely seriously.

This year, Air Products South Africa’s Head Office received its eighth platinum NOSCAR, and the Springs facility received its fourth platinum NOSCAR – once again meeting the NOSA criteria for this prestigious accolade.

In addition, the company’s Pinetown facility received its first platinum NOSCAR as the national winner in Sector ‘E’ on the NOSA Integrated 5 star system.  Debbie Crawley from Head Office, Dumisa Gina from Springs, and Elsa Vorster from Pinetown were in attendance to receive the awards on behalf of their facilities.

For Sue Janse van Vuuren, Air Products South Africa’s Corporate Risk Manager, the NOSCAR Awards, as well as the regional NOSA awards represent an invaluable opportunity for the company to measure itself against the highest industry standards nationally.  It is also a chance for individuals, as well as the company as a whole, to enjoy well-deserved recognition for another year of hard work and focus.

“NOSA’s ‘5 Star’ system enables us to benchmark ourselves against environmental, health and safety legislation and best practices. It also gives our existing and potential customers a measure of our commitment and performance in this field. The awards confirm that we are in the top echelon within our industry sector across South Africa; and our repeated success in winning these awards demonstrates our consistency. In our industry, where safety is of the utmost importance, industry recognition such as this confirms to our customers that we have a top-class approach to safety,” she says.

Air Products received a total of 26 awards at the various regional awards events for 2013/2014, with the majority of its facilities receiving awards, including the Head Office facility which received the NOSA Northern Region Top Companies Awards in the commercial sector for achieving excellence as a leading SHE (Safety Health and Environment) company in 2013.

The other Air Products facilities, which received regional NOSA Awards for 2013/2014, include Kempton Park, Witbank, Rustenburg, Springs, Sasol, Cape Town, Newcastle, Pinetown and Empangeni.

Van Vuuren ascribes the company’s success to the implementation of its integrated Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) management system which is centrally managed by their Risk department.

“The system includes a number of elements which we have integrated.  These include global Air Products standards, local legislation, certification system requirements and best practices, which are set out in a SHEQ manual.  Compliance is then monitored through various auditing and reporting processes,” she explains.

However, she is quick to point out that an effective SHEQ management system is only as good as the people who implement it.  “The successful implementation of such systems relies on the continuous dedication and participation of each and every employee at all levels of the organisation. At Air Products, safety and quality have become a way of life.  We have long believed that safety is an individual responsibility.”

She adds, however, that the company does run incentive programmes to encourage participation in the various campaigns and initiatives, which are designed to consolidate a SHEQ culture across the organisation. 

“Statistics show that up to 90% of incidents are caused by unsafe acts or behaviours, so Air Products will be focusing on behavioural safety in the coming year,” Van Vuuren says.

In the meantime, the company is happy to look back on the past year and celebrate its achievement in the regional and national NOSA awards.  “Without resting on our laurels, Air Products’ facilities and individual employees take great pride in their safety achievements,” Van Vuuren concludes.