Safety, Health, Environment, Risk, and Quality (SHERQ) now forms an integral part of management in the public and private sectors. It has been an important development in the South African work environment, as it covers the various factors of safety, health, environment, risk, and quality management, with the focus on ensuring the best occupational health and safety of workers, visitors to the workplace, and the public, in addition to the environment.
SHERQ furthermore deals with sustainable environmental management and effective management of occupational and general risks, whilst also focussing on the improvement of quality related to products and services delivered. Some of the frequently asked questions about SHERQ are briefly answered below to help you gain a better understanding of what SHERQ entails and why it is so important in the South African workplace.
Must every employer appoint a health and safety representative?
The law provides that every employer with more than 20 workers employed at the workplace must, within four months of commencing with business, or within four months of having more than 20 employees, appoint in writing a health and safety representative at the workplace for a specified period.
What is the role of the health and safety representative?
The appointed health and safety representative must review the health and safety measures in place to measure effectiveness, must identify any potential hazards in the workplace and examine the causes of incidents, and make recommendations on how to prevent such incidents of being repeated. The representative must report to management and make recommendations regarding means for improving the occupational health and safety at the workplace. Regular inspections, as approved by senior management and department heads, must be conducted to ensure that machinery, sites, and procedures are safe. The representative furthermore must listen to and address complaints by employees related to the health and safety of the workplace.
In addition to the above, the representative is expected to accompany inspectors at the workplace, attend SHERQ management committee meetings, and develop and promote awareness amongst employees regarding the importance of health and safety at the workplace. The representative must initiate and participate in the identification of health and safety risks at the workplace and must also initiate and promote training programmes regarding health and wellness. It is essential that the representative also play an active role in ensuring compliance with the various standards and laws related to health and safety. Monthly reporting to the sub-committee may be required.
What does occupational health entail?
It refers to the health conditions at the workplace and includes hygiene, medicine, and biological control and monitoring. The hygiene refers to the practice of anticipating, identifying, evaluating, and controlling risks in the workplace related to health hazards, with the focus of protecting employee well-being and the well-being of the surrounding community.
What is the SHERQ Committee?
It is a management committee that has been appointed for the development, promotion, management, maintenance, and reviewing of measurements with the focus of protecting the employees in a specific department or organisation.
What are the main management objectives of SHERQ?
What does the health & safety objective entail?
The focus is to help create and maintain a healthy and safe workplace. Activities forming part of the objective include the provision and management of clean facilities at the workplace. The organisation must also ensure that hazardous objects and situations are identified and appropriately managed. Part of this process entails establishment of participative platforms for discussions of issues related to health and safety at the workplace.
What does the environmental management objective entail?
The focus is to monitor the effectiveness of the various measures for risk control and the initiating of corrective steps where and when needed. In order to reach this objective, the company must align the designs and facilities with the image of the organisation and compile the necessary schedule for the floors, structures, and buildings, as well as worksites. In addition, the organisation must see to it that there are proper lighting and optimal visibility for efficient and safe work operations. It is furthermore important to ensure that sufficient ventilation systems are in place.
What about the quality and risk management?
The focus of the objective is the identification and the assessment of risks for facilitation of risk reduction. Activities needed to reach the objective include the identification and assessment of risk plans, setting up of preparedness plans, development of evaluation plans, ensuring compliance with ISO 9001 on quality management, and compliance with OHSAS 18001 focussed on occupational health and safety, in addition to compliance with ISO 14001 on environmental management.
What is the role of senior management?
The senior management team involved in the SHERQ programme must see to it that a proper capacity-building programme is in place for each relevant division. In addition, the team must assist with full implementation of SHERQ on the overall enterprise level, oversee its financial planning and budgeting process , and encourage stakeholder support. Senior management must furthermore appoint and work with a sub-committee for the development and monitoring of measures for promoting a safer, environmentally friendly, and quality-focussed workplace. Senior management has the responsibility for setting up and ensuring ongoing improvement of the ethical guidelines related to SHERQ, and ensuing compliance with legislation and commitment to ongoing measurement and improvement of the SHERQ system in the workplace.
What are the roles of the mid-level managers and the supervisors?
They have to implement and coordinate the various SHERQ plans and must manage and monitor the SHERQ implementation according to the policy guidelines set by senior management. They also need to identify the individual needs of workers related to personal development, must schedule individual counselling, and promote well-being, as well as the correct balance in personal and work life.
How does SHERQ relate to the employees?
Employees are accountable for their actions that can put the public, visitors, or fellow employees at risk. They must adhere to the company policies regarding health and safety, must obey the rules, and must report any unsafe practices or conditions to their department head or to the appointed health and safety representative.
SHERQ is not a once-off process. Instead, it entails ongoing monitoring, reporting, and managing of the health, safety, environment, risks, and quality as relevant to the organisation. Contact us for setup and training assistance.