SHERQ is the acronym for Safety Health Environment Risk & Quality. It is a system that is implemented to improve, protect and sustain the health and safety of all people on the premises of the company. SHERQ is particularly important in industries such as mining, engineering, manufacturing and construction, where there are high risks of injury and disease.
The system is implemented alongside international standards, such as ISO 9001 for quality and the ISO 14000 series for environmental management. It is also implemented to ensure compliance with statutory regulations, such as the Occupational Health & Safety Act. In essence, the approach can be seen as vital for reduction of injuries, early identification of hazards and addressing such risks to reduce incidents related to such.
A scientific approach is implemented to ensure consistency in the reporting of hazards, injuries and disease. Although it focuses on the wellbeing of people at the workplace, it also extends to ensure protection of the environment against human economic and industrial activities. As such, implementation of SHERQ also helps to address risks such as spills and the impact of the spills. Environmental disasters because of human impact are thus avoided and where incidents do occur, it involves investigation to the causes, control measures and impact reduction. Following such, the necessary steps are taken to minimise the impact and to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.
It is also a system that addresses quality, and the implementation thereof helps to improve the overall quality of products, services and workplace environment. The risk component forms an important part of the system, as it entails ongoing assessments of risks, implementation of policies and procedures to manage the risks and methods for reporting on the said risks.
SHERQ is thus a proactive system for managing risks pertaining to safety, health, the environment and quality. It provides the necessary framework for controlling risks, the costs associated with consequences of incidents and preventing further incidents. Part of this entails adoption of policies and procedures for such, measurement tools to assess the levels of risk, control measures to minimise risks and tools to measure the success of the company’s risk management policies.
Why Implement SHERQ?
Accidents, injuries, spillage, disease spreading and poor safety or health conditions at the workplace lead to loss of productivity, low employee morale, loss of confidence in the company’s management capacity and financial losses. In order to curb such, it is essential to identify, address and solve risks effectively using standardised procedures. It helps to encourage responsible actions by all employees, irrespective of their positions in the company. With such, everyone gains accountability.
An example is where mine surveyors are required to complete risk assessments as they pass through the mine landscape. They must record risks that they see, such as large vehicles operating in the particular setting and their control actions, such as avoiding the drive paths. Everyone on the mine premises must take responsibility for their responses to risks.
It is imperative to be consistent in the implementation of SHERQ, as this is what ensures the overall success of the system. Part of this process entails training of employees in risk management, quality control, safety and health procedures, and auditing of the company’s performance in terms of the system. The audits can take place on a departmental or company level. Training must be provided to ensure that there are safety officers on the premises and that there are employees that have been trained in the various ISO standards.
The ISO standards are international standards for particular areas of management systems. Compliance and certification with these standards are not compulsory, but implementation holds several benefits, such gaining a competitive edge because of certification and assurance to clients that the company is committed to keeping up specific standards.
Preparation for certification in particular ISO standards or OHSAS 18001 involves a GAP analysis to determine areas in which improvements are still needed. Corrective steps follow and an internal audit can be concluded to determine whether the performance has been improved. Once ready, the company applies for certification, upon which an external audit follows. Once the company meets all conformance requirements, certification is awarded. Maintenance of conformance is necessary to ensure that the renewal of certification can be successful.