Building a Culture of Safety

As the East African region developes its oil and mineral resources, it is crucial that the region adopts a culture of safety. This culture of safety will necessitate a society with common values on Safety that will translate into norms and attitudes towards safety.

Safety necessitates an industry free from danger, risk or injury of personnel, property or the environment.

Barriers are crucial for ensuring safety in oil and mineral development. For each installation, barriers must be established to breakdown any unwanted chain of events that could render the premise unsafe. An effective barrier implementation should be systematic- i.e. sequential in their operation. Secondly, the implementation should have several barriers working independently of each other. Thirdly, the implementation should reduce chance of mistakes, accidents, injuries and inconveniences. Lastly the implementation should be maintained throughout the lifetime of the installation.

Types of barriers

  1. Technical barriers are independent of human beings. Example is the fail safe system where if anything goes wrong the system resets to zero.
  2. Organisational barriers – these are based on the set managerial practices within the organization. In these practices it is important to have clear responsibility allocation and reporting structure. Administrative barriers – these relate to work routines in high risk areas for example permit to work systems.
  3. Human barriers – the competence level of the work force is also a safety barrier. Incompetent work force will lead to more risk associated with the installation
  4. A positive Safety culture requires coordination of safety efforts with all stakeholders, reporting all safety related incidents (near miss, accidents and injuries); flexible and continuous learning attitude.

Frank Magoba is the team leader at Kaizen Africa Limited, a consulting company specializing in engineering consultancy, project and quality management and research. They are located in Kampala and have worked in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

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