Friday, 8 February 2008

Buckling Baby – the right way!

Hey there! I just saw this recently and I thought it makes a lot of safety sense!!!
Buckling up a baby definitely does not mean suffocating or perhaps killing him or her. Do the right thing! Get the right car seat and save your precious little ones from impacts of an accident.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

A welding shield - Imagine THIS!

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an important part of hazard management and control. However, its effectiveness is a function of use, quality and applicability. Just imagining this picture, you are so sure no protection is offer - just legality of use.
If you must use PPE, use the right one and correctly. It's your choice.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Building a Safety Culture

In one of the earlier articles on this blog, I have listed some principles of workplace safety programme. In all, eight principles were highlighted in the article and one of them is that ‘safety is a culture not just a programme.’

Let me start by giving a definition of culture. Culture has been defined in many ways and there are quite a number of controversies with the concept of culture. However, for the purpose of this write up, I will define culture as a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behaviour of a people. Simply stated therefore, culture is a way of life.

Now to the principle under discourse– safety is a culture. Safety is a responsibility and accepting this means that it could be learnt and shared over a period of time. This automatically translates to a culture because every culture started from a point of learning and sharing. Instructions were laid down and either willingly obeyed or otherwise. This information gets transferred from one generation to the other and over a period of time, it becomes the way of doing things. Sometimes, you may not even know the genesis of the things you do, but you just want to do it because it is your culture.

Safety is a culture. It’s not just a programme. In a culture of safety, people are not merely encouraged and compelled to work safely and towards a change; they are expected take actions when it is needed. They have to be proactive, take decisions and acts to ensure the safety of lives and property. Inactions in the face of safety problems and challenges are never the acceptable standards or values in a culture of safety. Everybody takes responsibility for his safety and that of others. There is no room in a culture of safety for those who point fingers, or refuse to accept responsibility for safety.

Every member of a community protects and advances the course of his culture. In fact, many a times, you consciously and unconsciously persuade others to accept your culture based on either the values you exhibit or the success that you achieve. This is exactly, what happens when you work, play and act in a safe way. It’s even more important in organizations because, new employees will eventually fit into the culture that permeates the system, either trained or otherwise.

Accident records in an organization is not a function of how comprehensive and detailed the safety programme is (although this is the starting point), but on the culture of safety in the workplace – how workers take responsibilities for themselves and others through hazard identification and analysis, near miss and reporting, obedience to safety rules and regulations and total adherence to workplace safe system of work. The programme is important since it will include training plans and the commitment of the management to safety ethics, but it cannot achieve anything positive until it translates to actions by all in the organization.

Building a safety culture in homes, schools, organization, society and the country as a whole is a task which must be accomplished in order to prevent losses of lives, environment, time, money, asset and property.
When we loose all these resources to accidents, fire, disasters and pollution, growth and development are stalled and the populace suffers in poverty rather than live in affluence.

Building a safety culture is possible and doable! It’s a responsibility!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Crusade for Safety in Nigeria

In one of my training sessions recently, a participant asked a question which is the reason why I am writing this article. He wanted to know why safety is relegated to the background in Nigeria. I decided to probe to know the basis for his question and at the end; I was not too surprised because his work experiences portrayed his fears. This particular participant had worked in places where the only thing that mattered was production – I mean output figures.
It does not really matter how you do the job, just show the result or you are history. There is no idea, document, structure or process in place to ensure the health and safety of the workers. You may kill yourself if you choose, just be productive anyhow seemed to be the unwritten work procedures.

In the course of discussion in the class, another participant cited an experience he had many years ago, where a worker got injured and was told by the management that he has been paid for the accidents. How? His salaries! And that was the turining point in his life. He has to make a change in whatever capacity possible or he will also receive same reward shortly! 'If something is wrong, it will always go wrong.'

It’s not news that workplace safety is a relatively new concept in this part of the world. Prior to now, professing to be a safety professional in Nigeria to your parents or family is akin to joblessness when you can be a doctor, engineer, banker, teacher, etc. I have personally experienced this and I am sure others in this field will attest to this. This does not mean that there are no safety professionals and organizations in the country that preach and practice safety. In fact, there are regulations in the country that have been written to promote the health and safety of workers in the country. How effective and relevant are these regulations is a question for discussion some other time. Be that as it may, the number of such organizations is almost insignificant compared to the population of the country’s labour force.

In the forefront of this crusade are the oil and gas companies, of course some of whom still fall short of the acceptable and international standards. Other sectors of the economy such as construction, manufacturing, agro-allied, banking and others are trailing behind in issues of HSE.
Occupational health, safety and environment issues are gradually gaining recognition in the country, especially with some notable accidents and disasters that the country has witnessed in the recent times. Organisations are becoming more aware about their responsibilities to ensure that their workers are well protected from the inherent hazards they face while working due to compensations and sometimes violent confrontations and protests that they receive when accidents occur and workers loose their lives. In the same vein, workers are beginning to realize that it is possible to work and stay alive. 'After all, work does not mean death.' It only leads to it when control measures are not in place.

The need to obey simple safety rules and regulations is now, more than ever before, obvious and real considering many hazards which are part of the production or work processes, if not created by the task being performed itself. Of course, technological advancements and breakthroughs have made living interesting and comfortable, but they have also increased the risks of injuries through accidents which occur as a result of exposures to various hazards.

There is a great need for a comprehensive orientation and awareness crusades for Nigeria workers to work safely and demand of their employers, the right to work and go back home in one piece. It's a right! This crusade involves all and sundry and we must all stand up for a safe Nigeria. A safe workplace and environment where there is values for life. The days of ignorance are definitely over. It starts from and with you and I.

I can hear someone say but it’s the government responsibility! Yes. You are right! Government has a responsibility to play; but you have the greatest and most primary responsibility to stay alive. You have a responsibility to work and remain alive - Obey safety rules and regulations, follow safe work procedures and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)! These are some of your responsibilities. It’s a choice and decision that you have to make and of course NOW!

Work safely! Stay alive! Remember, Nigeria needs you – either NOW or LATER!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Where Safety Professionals Work.

Since safety professionals provide technical assistance in identifying, evaluating and controlling hazards, safety professionals work virtually anywhere where people might be exposed to hazards. No matter what a company’s business is, its employees can encounter some types of hazards, either at work, getting to and from work or at home or play. Even working at a computer terminal can be hazardous, producing long-term injuries to the hand and wrist, back or other parts of the body.
Whether a company does manufacturing, mining, transportation, agriculture, chemicals, fuels production, construction, or provides services, it will always face hazards in some or all of its operations. It is likely that the company would employ or have contract with one or more safety professionals. It is common for companies to employ safety professionals at particular work sites. At corporate offices, safety professionals can coordinate the hazard control activities away from the work sites.
In recent years, safety professionals are working more and more in diverse and non-traditional worksites as many job opportunities have expanded to government, construction, transportation, service industries and consulting practices, among others. Such employment requires safety professionals to travel to different worksites to provide support to their internal and external clients.
Many companies have combined safety, industrial hygiene, environmental affairs, fire protection and ergonomics into a single function. A safety professional may advance by overseeing the work of all areas in the department. (Source: Career guide to the safety profession, ASSE, 2007)
Industrialisation is particularly playing a great role in safety professions as workplace is becoming rather complex and complicated and the chances of accidents have increased all over the world. This is an advantage in disguise as there is a growing need for safety professionals and in the african countries especially, the opportunities are overwhelming.
For aspiring safety professionals (most especially in the developing economies), welcome to a world of evolving opportunities!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Who is a Safety Professional?

The primary focus for the safety (generically used for HSE) profession is prevention of harm to people, property and the environment. Safety professionals apply principles drawn from such disciplines as engineering, education, psychology, physiology, enforcement, hygiene, health,
physics, and management. They use appropriate methods and techniques of loss
prevention and loss control
(American Society of safety engineers, 2007)

The (board of certified safety professional, 2006),
defines a safety professional as a person engaged in the prevention of accidents, incidents, and events that harm people, property, or the environment. They use qualitative and quantitative analysis of simple and complex products, systems, operations, and activities to identify hazards. They evaluate the hazards to identify what events can occur and the likelihood of occurrence, severity of results, risk (a combination of probability and severity), and cost. They identify what controls are appropriate and their cost and effectiveness.

Beside knowledge of a wide range of hazards, controls, and safety assessment methods, safety professionals must have knowledge of physical, chemical, biological and behavioral sciences, mathematics, business, training and educational techniques, engineering concepts, and particular kinds of operations (construction, manufacturing, transportation, etc.)

Safety professionals make recommendations to managers, designers, employers, government agencies, and others. Controls may involve administrative controls (such as plans, policies, procedures, training, etc.) and engineering controls (such as safety features and systems, fail-safe features, barriers, and other forms of protection). Safety professionals may also manage and implement controls.

As a safety professional you are the front line, the first point of contact in the day-to-day implementation of company practices, federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations with respect to occupational health, safety and environment.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Responding to Emergencies

Knowing what to do when an emergency strikes can be the critical difference between saving or loosing a life, including your own. Perhaps I should begin by giving a simple definition of emergency. Simply put, emergency is a sudden unforeseen crisis (usually involving hazards or its releases) that requires immediate action. There are emergencies all over the world: Nigeria has had its own share, greatly you want to say. I won’t give examples here because the list is endless and I know as you read this piece, several cases come handy – those you have heard, read about, seen or possibly was involved. It’s definitely not an experience you want to have again! Do I hear someone say 'In Jesus name!'
There are many types of emergencies that can strike. I will not try to get into all of them here. However, there are a few areas I want to focus on in this short article and then I hope to encourage you to seriously consider taking time out to learn the best ways to handle varying emergencies that we are mostly likely to face - at home, work or even at play.
There are two things that are absolutely critical when it comes to emergency response. One is preparation. Have a plan; get some training, equipment, contacts and advice, etc. The other is assessment;
assess the situation before you act. If you come across someone on the ground, in obvious distress, something made them thatway. That something could still be there, so be sure to know what is going on before you jump in.
At the home front
When it comes to being prepared, the first step for every family is to have a plan. Do you have a plan for emergency evacuation of your home in case of a fire or any other emergency? Do your children and others that stay with you understand the plan? When it comes to being prepared for emergencies, one of the most important things you can do is take the time to become at the minimum, a trained first aider and learn how to save someone else’s life in crisis period without any risk to your own safety.
What about assessment? Here are the basics. When you come across someone in distress stop and take a moment to look around. That person may be having a seizure, or may be suffering an electrical shock that is actually ongoing and will also put you at risk if you touch him.
Take a moment to take a breath, look, listen, and pay attention to that little voice inside you as well. It’s the voice of safety. Simply ask: What caused this? Get an answer before you proceed to assisting, otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for a disaster. That’s assessment and it’s as simple as that, although difficult to do.
If you are in doubt, don't do it!
'Emotion is not a control measure in safety management' and if you don't believe this, find out from people who have acted on emotions instead of controlled assessments.
Watch before you leap and if you considered it unsafe, don't do it; no matter who is involved!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

This is year 2008 - You're Welcome!

Welcome to 2008!
It’s such a great mercy of God to be alive today and be part of 2008. God is faithful!
This is welcoming you to year 2008, the most rewarding and productive year you have ever seen – I’m very sure of this and if you are a Nigerian, you have got to believe this even more because a new Nigeria is emerging; the Nigeria of your dream! Check this out at
Starting out is a very good feat, but more importantly, is finishing what you have started! In other words, it’s good starting year 2008, but it will be the best, finishing it and of course many more years.
A lot of factors will determine this goal – the primary being God! However, there are several others which largely depend on you – your desires, decisions and determinations to live and work responsibly and safely!
There are several choices you will make this year, but remember that you are a product of your choices. What you get is what you sow – period! I am sure many resolutions have been made in 2008 and you know them all. May I advice that you also make an absolute resolution to live healthy and work safely in 2008. This is definitely possible!
You cannot afford to be on the fence or be neutral in this. "You do not need to decide for accident; it will occur unless you decide for safety." The default is for things to go wrong. You have a part to play to ensure things go right in your house, workplace and the society at large. It’s your responsibility!
Once again, have a healthy and safe 2008!
Safety isn’t costly, it’s priceless!