Safety, health, environment and quality

Safety, health, the environment and quality (SHEQ) are non-negotiable items in Afrox. The SHEQ function crosses all spheres of activity within the Company, making it an integral part of our business.

Key highlights

  • Risk management training refreshed across the business
  • Enhanced quality of our product offering through the Afrox Quality Council
  • Promotion of a safety culture through our landlord concept, Golden Rules of Safety, ActSafe and DriveSafe programmes

Key challenges

  • Truck and passenger car safety
  • On-site and asset security
  • Manual handling incidents and process safety
  • Contractor-related SHEQ incidents
Precautionary principle

Afrox values the health and safety of our employees and all who come into contact with our business. We do not want to harm or damage the environment and are committed to supplying high-quality and safe products to our customers.

Our corporate responsibility management enables us to anchor these objectives in our day-to-day business.

At the forefront of our strategy, planning and decision-making processes are the environmental, social and economic implications of our decisions and activities.

Key commitment areas are:

  • prevention of harm to people, our business, customers, local communities and society at large;
  • protection of the environment;
  • mitigation of climate change; and
  • responsible use of resources.

As a result, our environmental management controls are well developed and fully integrated into our SHEQ system. Environmental standards were developed and implemented in order to ensure that specific impacts applicable to water, air, waste, industrial effluent and hazardous chemicals are responsibly managed.

The Golden Rules

Afrox instils and promotes a safety culture by encouraging employees to stringently follow the Golden Rules. We continuously strive to prevent incidents and attain zero harm.

The Golden Rules provide a framework to achieving zero harm. They were adopted from The Linde Group’s global safety standards within the Linde integrated management system and standards (LiMSS).

Golden Rule Focus areas

Personal ownership for safety

We will consistently demonstrate personal ownership and accountability for safety through actions and behaviours.

  • Leadership development in the SHEQ programme
  • Promotion of understanding and application of personal ownership for safety through LeadSafe engagements, coaching and site visits. Personal responsibility is essential in our risk assessments for achieving zero harm

Driving vehicles

We will operate our vehicles safely and responsibly at all times and use the safety equipment provided.

  • Transport and passenger car safety plans and programmes
  • Awareness campaigns conducted throughout the business

Permit-to-work

We will use the permit-to-work system where necessary to ensure hazards and risks are understood and controlled.

  • Focused audit programme and reviews performed
  • Site visits
  • Users retrained on the latest permit-to-work system

Working at height

We will only work at height when the required safety measures to prevent falls are in place.

  • Delivery of a focused campaign, particularly for customer engineering services (CES)1
  • ActSafe2 for CES revisited

Lifting operations

We will ensure lifting operations utilising cranes or other lifting devices are carried out safely.

  • Delivery of a focused campaign, particularly for CES
  • ActSafe for CES revisited

Contractor management

We will select and manage our contractors so that they meet The Linde Group’s safety requirements.

  • Focused audit programme and review, performed, including procurement
  • Site visits

Engineering management of change (EMOC)

We will only proceed with technical changes to process plants and equipment when an engineering management of change process addressing the safety risks has been completed.

  • Focused audit programme and review performed
  • Site visits
  • Evaluation and approval by EMOC Committee of any major changes proposed

Incident reporting

We will report and investigate incidents so the causes can be identified and corrected, and learning shared.

  • Senior level incident reviews performed
  • Standards refreshed and training provided
1 Afrox provides the services of a dedicated CES department for gas reticulation equipment installations.
2 ActSafe is a behavioural programme focused on developing safe action by employees.
Effective SHEQ management is fundamental to the wellbeing of staff, suppliers, contractors and all visitors to Afrox sites across all our operations.

Continuously evolving our safety culture

Performance review

Key performance indicators

1 In 2015, Afrox began recording all vehicle incidents, instead of only avoidable vehicle incidents.
2 Includes direct and indirect emissions.
3 LeadSafe engagements are leadership-driven safety interventions.
4 Sites requiring certification in 2017
* Restated

Afrox’s SHEQ performance varied year-on-year. Safety indicators such as vehicle incidents and MIRs increased, while third-party fatalities and total recordable injuries decreased. On the environmental side, various factors contributed to a 4.8% increase in electricity and a 2.8% increase in our carbon footprint. Water usage decreased and the company recycled 19.8% more waste than in 2016.

Safety and health

Total recordable injuries (lost-time and medical treatment)

Afrox’s total recordable incidents decreased to 18 (2016: 24). The recordable injuries of contractors are measured similarly to our own employees and the totals refer to employees and contractors.

Incidents

MIR

Seven of the 16 major incidents resulted from security-related occurrences and public unrest that damaged our equipment and/or vehicles. The Company is investigating the use of technology to reduce the number of human security guards required at sites. This is in an effort to reduce their exposure to life-threatening or dangerous scenarios related to security threats.

Commercial vehicle incidents

Five third-party fatalities resulted from two vehicle incidents. These incidents occurred due to unsafe driving behaviour by the third parties involved. Afrox remains focused on reducing the number of significant vehicle incidents. The logistics team monitors routes constantly while vehicles are en route to delivery points. Live assessments and feedback of any risks enables the team to direct any deviations if required.

The Company contributes information and support to the electronic social platforms of Arrive Alive to help in promoting safe driving behaviour to the general public.
Driving safety in our fleet

The Group measures vehicle safety rates per 1 000 000 kilometres. These KPIs cover the entire business (including rental cars and any incidents that occurred during the performance of Company business in Company or personal vehicles). We are committed to conducting ActSafe training and implementing DriveSafe behavioural safety training for passenger car safety. We have also installed fatigue-monitoring software in our transport fleet to enhance our monitoring and control of driver safety. Refer to our online SHEQ supplementary report for details.

Manual handling
Eight incidents related to manual handling activities were recorded, six of which required first-aid treatment, representing an increase of three incidents compared to the previous year. The manual handling task force is drawn from all areas of the business and its purpose is to review solutions to manual handling issues covering all aspects of safety, including behaviour, technology and engineering.

Our manual handling task force investigated the feedback arising from the manual handling stand-down in 2016 and is implementing additional controls to further improve our performance in this area.

In addition, two employee safety days were held, with support from executive management. One focused on manual handling and the Company followed up on the proceedings of the day to generate feedback reports. These reports are site-specific and managed appropriately at the relevant site.

LeadSafe engagements

Our visible leadership concept is a central element to driving safety in the Company. The LeadSafe engagement process encourages line managers to intervene when hazardous acts or behaviour are witnessed. Information on potential hazards can be logged remotely through the Company’s mobile application.

We had a total of 1 917 LeadSafe engagements in 2017, and Afrox records these interventions and analyses the trends. By analysing and investigating these events carefully, we can explore improvement opportunities to potentially eradicate the risk.

Process safety management

Process safety management relates to high-severity/low-frequency events.

Despite the low likelihood of major accidents, we recognise the severe impact these events can have on our business. We endorse high levels of discipline through our process safety awareness workshops and our Golden Rules (e.g. permit-to-work). Any non-conformance is raised during integrated audits that occur across the Company throughout the year.

Safety training activities

The Afrox Safety Solutions Programme is unique in South Africa. It is part of our product stewardship agenda to increase our end users’ levels of practical product knowledge and safety awareness.

The programme is aimed at the mining industry and other key sectors where we can generate additional sales with our gas equipment and Hard Goods range. Afrox is also pursuing the provision of the Safety Solutions Programme in medical industries. This will assist hospital and ground staff to store, use and handle gas cylinders in a safe manner.

The implementation process of this programme is crucial and entails presentations to SHEQ employees, foremen, storemen and employees in our laboratories. The scope of work is determined by detailed risk assessments and reports, which are then presented to senior staff of companies. Upgrading and replacing equipment is vital. The programme is gaining traction with our customers and is expected to grow further in the future.

We offer welding and safety training using content accredited by the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). Afrox is currently working with the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) to develop and design the first QCTO-accredited safety course in South Africa. This will be a six-day training course where individuals will earn credits for the named institutions upon completion.

Environment

The Company adheres to environmental legislation and will be obtaining external ISO 14001 environmental accreditation, where applicable. Afrox pays due attention to its environmental footprint and acknowledges its responsibility to act in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Performance is measured annually against improvement targets. Our year-on-year performance was as follows:

  • Purchased electricity usage increased by 4.8% (2016: 3% increase).
  • Carbon emissions increased by 2.6% (2016: 3.5% increase).
  • Water usage decreased by 0.65% (2016: 9% decrease).
  • Total waste increased by 8.9% (2016: 39% decrease).
Controlling emissions

Afrox uses a combination of scheduling and driver training to minimise fuel consumption and, by association, emissions. Scheduling of trucks refers to the use of logistics and distance considerations to maximise the productivity of each trip. Driver training supports this with braking, acceleration and general driving techniques to minimise fuel consumption. Transportation remains a relatively small element of the Company’s overall emissions, contributing 4.9% to total emissions annually.

Quality

In South Africa, we are implementing the FSSC ISO 22000 accreditation where required. This year, our CO2 plants continued to adopt the accreditation. In line with our operating model and the planned transition, we continued to adopt the 2015 version of ISO 9001 accreditations at strategic sites.

We intend to increase process safety throughout Afrox and align our accreditation to relevant guidelines. The Afrox Quality Council convenes bi-monthly and creates an agenda for managing quality and customer programmes across the business. The Afrox Quality Council reviews:

  • major customer incident reports;
  • customer complaints and order to cash issues or plans;
  • non-conformances;
  • changes to the quality management system;
  • audit reports; and
  • ISO registrations.

These actions support us in creating and improving quality programmes and constructing action plans that adhere to our customers’ requirements. We also integrated the Emerging Africa countries into the Afrox Quality Council’s agenda.

Our actions are customer-driven and we equip our sales and marketing team adequately through robust product training. We conduct customer audits and receive direct customer feedback through mechanisms such as “Rant and Rave,” an online feedback platform. Customers can comment on and rate our service and products or share their concerns through this platform. The Company pledges to provide feedback on negative posts within two hours. This information is vital for determining areas of quality improvement and The Linde Group and Afrox actively monitor updates.

Future focus areas

  • Improve transport and passenger car safety and on-site security
  • Embed process safety principles and management disciplines across the Company
  • Continue to drive technology and leadership monitoring programmes for employee behaviour
  • Develop the landlord concept and empower leaders to own and manage SHEQ risks in their business units
  • Drive the risk management programme across all sites
  • Support the manual handling task force to improve manual handling processes across the Company