Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU), President Jack Tlhagale has warned employees of Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) to avoid being complacent on issues of safety in the workplace.
Speaking during the launch of the 2015 SHEQ safety campaign last week, Tlhagale complacent employees become accustomed to doing things in a certain way and oblivious to the hazards that may be ever present around them.
“In some instances, employees go on autopilot and stop paying attention to what they are doing. They take shortcuts and they develop risky attitudes. This state of mind can adversely affect many things including productivity, quality and safety,” he warned.
According to a report from the TNMC Compliance and Risk Management team, in 2014 the mine did not meet its safety target as it recorded a fatality of four Lost Time Injuries (LTI) and 27 Non Lost Time Injuries against a target of 0.4 and 24 respectively. The report however shows an improvement this year (2015) as no incidents have been recorded yet.
In addition Tlhagale said a co-worker is often best placed to notice risky behaviour in the workplace. He added that behaviour based safety is very crucial in any work setting as it accords organizations the opportunity to move to a higher level of safety excellence by promoting proactive responses, leading indicators that are statistically valid, building ownership, trust and unity across the team and developing empowerment opportunities which relate to employee safety.
“Promoting safe behaviour at work is a critical part of the management of health and safety. Good behaviour turns health and safety management systems and operational procedures into reality and can be used to minimize errors and reduce potential accidents and near misses,” he said.
Tlhagale highlighted that International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics indicate that an estimated 2.3 million people die every year from work related accidents and diseases. He said according to ILO more than 160 million people suffer from occupational and work related diseases; and there are 313 million non-fatal accidents per year.
“The suffering caused by such accidents and illnesses to workers and their families is incalculable. This is shocking indeed and Tati Nickel is not immune to these calamities,” he said.
He further warned that excellence in health cannot be achieved without collaborative relations with work colleagues guiding, helping and warning one another.
“It is important for employees to feel responsible for everyone’s safety. Employees must care for others, act to ensure that they all do not expose themselves to risks and follow the rules aimed at protecting them.”
“Your relations must be based on mutual respect and support. When you see your colleague doing something unsafe, it is your duty to intervene. If a colleague warns you about a hazard, you must accept the warning with gratitude rather than feel annoyed, supposing that the intention was to show you up or make you feel bad,” he said.