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Gyproc Germiston plant awarded certification for health & safety management system

occupational health and safety certification for Gyproc Germiston plant South Africa

Gyproc Germiston is the first Saint-Gobain plant in sub-Saharan Africa to receive certification for its health and safety management systems in terms of the new international standard ISO 45001:2018.


Internationally accepted safety standards are paramount to Saint-Gobain, and on-going excellence is underpinned by international safety management systems. In March 2018, a new ISO standard – ISO 45001:2018 – was introduced, replacing the previously used British standard, OHSAS 18001:200. From that date, companies have three years to move from the old standard to the new one.


The new standard follows the same structure as the old one but differs from it in three important ways. First, occupational health and safety (OHS) management is about more than regulations and governance. It has to be seen in the context of the company’s culture and the impact it has on all stakeholders, including workers and customers.


Secondly, the company has to identify all parties with an interest in the OHS management system, such as workers, consumers and regulators, and identify their needs and expectations.  Thirdly, it must have a process in place to involve workers and trade unions in the development, implementation and continuous improvement of the OHS management system.


According to Deon Potgieter, Gyproc Isover National SHEAR Manager, this approach is very inclusive and is far removed from the days where top management set goals and objectives for the OHS management system. The new ISO45001:2018 standard requires workers to participate in and be consulted to establish the OHS policy; define OHS objectives and plan how to achieve them; establish, implement and maintain an audit programme and ensure continuous improvement; identify hazards and assess risks and opportunities and investigate incidents and nonconformities, and determine corrective actions.


“Worker participation and consultation played a major role in Gyproc Germiston’s transition to the new international health and safety management standard,” says Jacques Mans, a safety engineer at the plant. “As this was a new approach, we were challenged to actively involve workers in these matters.”


Mans and his team arranged several specific feedback interventions with workers including a feedback session where employees gave their opinions on how the safety systems could be improved and provided input on proposed core focus areas for workers and management in 2019 and going forward. Ensuring that all party’s voices were heard, the safety reps also participated in the opening and closing meetings of the ISO 45001:2018 audit.


Mans says plant-wide participation was a big factor in successfully moving from one standard to the other, but it was not a once-off event. Now that the ISO 45001:2018 system has been implemented workers remain involved in several key areas ranging from hazard and risk identification through monthly incident reporting; having the authority to stop any work that they feel is unsafe; incident investigations and general problem solving; giving ideas for problem-solving on projects; setting general KPIs for the next year and monthly walkabouts where safety reps raise tags and TF5 issues for a specific area.


“One of the greatest advantages of involving our workers is the sense of purpose and ownership it has created and we now have a workforce that is more aware of and committed to health and safety management,” says Mans.

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