WORLD SAFETY MONTHAmotech
As the World Workplace Safety Month comes to an end, companies need to re-active policies that enhance workers’ wellbeing on the factory floor.
This should start with an all-employee conversation as well as formation of workplace safety committees that will support real-time implementation of practical guidelines that prevent accidents and mitigate magnitude of harm incase in occurs.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) an average of 6,000 people die as a result of work-related accidents or diseases every day, totaling more than 2.2 million work-related deaths a year. Of these, about 350,000 deaths are from workplace accidents and more than 1.7 million are from work related diseases. Each year, workers suffer approximately 270 million occupational accidents that lead to absences from work for 3 days or more and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of work-related disease. Approximately 4% of the world’s gross domestic product is lost with the cost of injury, death and disease through absence from work, sickness treatment, disability and survivor benefits. Hazardous substances kill about 438,000 workers annually, and 10% of all skin cancers are estimated to be attributable to workplace exposure to hazardous substances.
Accidents can occur anywhere within a factory from storage, to rotating machines as well as disposal of waste. It is important to have personnel knowledgeable on the environment around them, how the machines operate and how they should be operated; the prevalent hazards and risks in their areas of work and what has been done by the employer in minimizing the hazards like instructions of operating a machine, maintenance plans/schedules for the machine. Such measures are so important especially now due to the new normal after the Covid19 pandemic was confirmed in Kenya last year in March.
Safety workplaces means continuity and profitability as well as a major benefit to communities via jobs preserved as well as the national economy from products made and revenues paid in form of taxes.
Cautionary measures must be taken to deter possible accidents that could cost lives, damage to machinery resulting in stoppage in the production process and reputational issues.
These measures starts with frequent conduction of safety meetings, practical drills as well as written instructions posted at strategic points that workers refer to before, during and after operating machinery.
While labelling would be dismissed as a futile academic exercise, it is an instructive ‘green, red and amber’ on dos and don’ts within factories or workplaces.
“As a company we have for several years been developing safe work practices where the management team and employees are trained on safety measures that are necessary at every stage of production.
Manufacturers in Kenya and beyond need to adopt a lockout-tagout solution (LOTO), a safety procedure that ensures that dangerous machinery and energy sources are properly shut off and are not started up unexpectedly while maintenance or service work is being completed as this endangers lives of workers carrying out maintenance work,” says Machacha Muchiri the Managing Director of Amotech Africa.
Energy sources that should be locked out during maintenance could be electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, radiation or thermal.
Keen attention should be paid on manufacturers implementing LOTO, area marking, facility labeling, safety signage and spill control thereby creating safe workplaces and securing lives and properties.
Amotech Africa offers safety signage to help remind people of hazards like warning of electric shocks, safe practices like wearing a helmet; machine tagging that informs of the status of say a forklift, when it was last inspected, when the next inspection is due..; Area marking warns people of hazardous areas, safe areas.
“The reputation of brands is also pegged on the workplace setup. A fire for instance or an oil/ spill that costs lives is a potential source of reputational risk through creating a negative brand image for a company. There are also legal and financial risks that come with accidents. Therefore, it’s important that such incidents be avoided at all costs,” Mr. Machacha concludes.