While South African industries continuously focus on improving their manufacturing health and safety standards, Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps) and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division, aims to establish a leading role in health and safety.
“Rand-Air, while prioritising safety at all times, strives to achieve and maintain excellence – be it in new health and safety initiatives, or in complying with the latest industry requirements and standards. We have done so for the 48 years we have been in existence,” says Rand-Air Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Manager Bongani Thobela.
“We are the compressor rental leaders and because of this, we need to ensure that we lead in terms of safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) as well. If Rand-Air is at the forefront of SHEQ, this will also lead to increased awareness of safety, with a positive ‘knock-on’ effect throughout our value chain,” Thobela says.
Among the many milestones in Rand-Air’s health and safety is an important addition to the company’s SHEQ team – the very first female Quality and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Administrator Lindi Maseko.
“Safety is in my veins – it is a vital part of who I am! With the new knowledge that I am increasingly grasping – in working with closely with Bongani and in being a member of the Rand-Air team, I see safety as an integral and essential part of life. It is not just about safety at work, but about how you can ‘live’ safety in all aspects of your life: at home, on the road and even socially,” Maseko enthuses.
Thobela agrees, reiterating that safety is one of the cornerstones of Rand-Air and cemented by the company’s culture and ethos of making agility count through its customer service and solutions.
In her role as the company’s first female SHEQ officer, Maseko not only strives to be a passionate ambassador for safety through new and innovative campaigns, but is committed to encouraging women in industry – and particularly her fellow female employees – “to grab opportunities and pursue futures in safety.”
“Women should not be restricted by fear of the unknown and should discard the misconception that roles, such as SHEQ officers are only male-dominated,” she further emphasises.
Key to Rand-Air’s SHEQ imperatives is the company’s impressive multi-certification in International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards, such as ISO 9000, 14000 and 18000.
“Although we ensure our certifications are up to date and that we pass our independent audits annually, Rand-Air also continuously improves our safety practices to ensure 100 percent compliance to ISO; as well as entrench a complete awareness of and commitment to safety,” says Thobela.
Rand-Air’s latest ISO certification entails an upgrade from OHSAS 18001, the world’s former reference for workplace health and safety, to ISO 45001:2018.
The ISO 45001 is the new standard for health and safety, focusing more on the interaction between an organisation and its business environment.
“In accordance with ISO 45001, we need to implement systems to ensure that we reduce our employees’ and customers’ risks or hazards in the work environment, and ensure that these are removed – or at least reduced – as far as possible; as well as mitigate the risks which we cannot remove,” says Thobela.
“These are great initiatives to ultimately spark a better, more holistic understanding and continuation of improved SHEQ practices,” he adds.
With safety being one of the central driving tenets of Rand-Air’s ethos, Thobela and Maseko constantly promote and ensure safety in all aspects of the business by undertaking to involve all staff at Rand-Air, including customers and sub-contractors, in safety initiatives and compliance.
Thorough safety inductions are performed, while customers sign agreements to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Rand-Air’s safety standards, procedures and compliance requirements and vice versa.
Internally, Rand-Air’s SHEQ department drafts regular reports, and informs the company of new safety directives, initiatives, and any changes at ‘MDW’ (Mission-Directed Work Teams) weekly meetings.
Meanwhile, departmental ‘toolbox talks’, and ‘SHEQ representatives’ conversations enable the discussion of any technical safety-related issues, and are aimed at gaining feedback on risk observations.
First aid boxes are also regularly maintained and updated as required.
“As part of encouraging a passion for safety, we also draw on the suggestions from all Rand-Air branches and depots in exploring and adopting safety innovations,” Maseko says.
In a reflection of Rand-Air’s innovation, Thobela highlights the company’s Innovation system application, on which employees can register/record ideas on new safety initiatives; while another application allows them to record safety observations for future corrective actions.
Maseko observes: “In terms of driving safety procedures, we are continuously striving to achieve a conscientious approach and total commitment towards safety at Rand-Air. We ensure that employees – as well as our suppliers and customers – understand the pivotal importance of safety in all that we and they do.”
“Ultimately, safety is everyone’s responsibility – whether you are a cleaner, administrative assistant, technician, or a manager – and it should be a fundamental concern and ‘top of mind’ of with all. After all, it never hurt to think about safety, and could just save lives!” she concludes.