The Misconception between Safety and Profit Making

Years ago, I recall myself in class paying rapt attention, while my lecturer navigated us through her bittersweet experience, in a construction company, she had worked with, before securing a job in my institution.

According to her, the company had been awarded a very attractive contract, to construct a massive edifice and this had been ongoing for months, but she inferred their safety culture was nothing to write home about. None of the advisory recommendations reported by the HSE team were duly acted upon, especially in the area of procurement and purchase of personal protective equipment(PPE). Minor accidents kept reoccurring due to unavailability of personal protective equipment, but all were neglected . And whenever she approached the project supervisor to lay complains, his impromptu defense speech would always end with “safety is expensive and we can’t afford it”. In conclusion, she said the company met its waterloo, when a worker was reported dead after he slipped and fell while working at the top of a scaffold of about 30ft without a fall protection equipment.

This news went viral, like a pandemic and attracted a lot of Legal, Moral and Economic reactions which brings us to the three main reflect and epicenter of HSE effects in a company:

Legal- the family sued the company to court and then demanded compensation for the death of their son. It didn’t end there, law enforcement agencies visited, external investigations were carried out, and more discrepancies and incompliancies where exposed which incurred more fine.
The Moral effect was that the incident left the workers depressed and derogated, many went on French leave. The few that stayed were not effectively productive, as their morale became low. and finally the most evident -the economic impact, more losses were incurred both directly and indirectly, cost of hiring a lawyer, compensating worker’s family, manhour loss and lost time injury. Their public image and reputation was largely marred, the contract was withdrawn and company ran bankrupt.

This incident story is where the popular HSE maxim if you think safety is expensive try accident” is highly appreciated.

So what exactly would we say is the frenemy here? Is it safety or profit making? Absolutely not! It is the misconception, because in the real sense, the aforementioned “duo” are family that always looks out for each other.

It will interest us to know that on the Job accidents and illnesses take some two million lives and cost the global economy an estimated 1.25 trillion dollars( 1,250,000 million dollars) annually and account for some four percent of annual gross domestic product(GDP), (International Labour Organization 2020). The International Labour Organization, in a very recent post on their website revealed that in parts of the developing world, fatality rates soar to four times those in the safest industralized industries. What more is left to say to justify the claim that safety is an indispensable ally to profit maximization and not the reverse. And that with improved safety culture we could actually reduce loss in our businesses.

In a nutshell, we can conclude that Health and safety policy is aimed at ensuring workers safety as a sustainable means to afford productivity and profit maximization, because come to think of it, can we place a price tag on life? it is invaluable, so why use a wait tag for what can be used to protect life? Safe work, saves more! Healthy employee results to a wealthy company.

Thank you and GOD bless.

Ugwu Terrelbasil Onyekachi

Media/Publicity Dpt., HSEAI

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE MUSTER POINT IN THIS TIME OF A CATASTROPHIC PANDEMIC?

 I’m sure we are eager as to know what wisdom we can excerpt from the muster point in this ‘’stay at home’’ Warrant type of Pandemic, so we are advised to plug in our seat belts and enjoy the ride.

 According to a published article by (EDET, 2018) a muster point is described as the safest place during emergency, where every occupant of the Job premises are expected to assemble for head count before rescue operation is initiated if necessary.   We can deduce three major points from the above mentioned definition, and they will form the epicenter of our discussion.

The first phrase which will be considered is safest place, a sanctuary sought of, this describes a place void of all kinds of danger or the cause for alarm, it`s like where the Jewish victims sought refuge during the era of the holocaust which was termed safe houses, (slier et al 2008).it is practically out of reach from the hands or even capacity of the ravaging danger or threat. Now relating this precept to our present predicament, what and where would we say would represent a ‘’safe house” that assures us of optimum safety and security from this sinister virus? Is it Aso rock? Maybe, the Barracks? Absolutely no! surprisingly it is our HOME, what the majority already has, irrespective of our class in the society we can all boast of a place we call home, it was William J Bennett who said and I quote ‘’ home is a shelter from storms- all sorts of storms’’ and guess what, this viral and virulent  storm is not an exception. We must all resort to our homes as the cheapest but most effective means to ensure not just our safety but the safety of others. 

But will just sitting at home really be of aid in this time, definitely not, this will now introduce us to our next salient muster point point, extracted from the aforementioned definition is ‘’head count’’ . it describes a core procedure carried out in the muster points where all workers present in the workplace are accounted for in the muster points, so the muster point doesn’t just afford your own safety but also takes into cognizance “who needs help?’’ how best can we help without endangering ourselves etc. This from a bird’s eye view can be seen as communication which in my words is the salt of human existence, but in this case it stretches beyond interaction with those in our home or digitally with our loved ones, to involve any form of healthy, spiritual and intellectual engagement that will help fumigate our mental environment from every nook of fear, panic and negativity whilst pervading it with scents of positivity and hope which has been the rudder that drove us through the storms of previous pandemics and other life challenges.

And now our last extract from the above stated definition would be “rescue operation” , in the context of a Muster point, yes! it is a safe zone but sometimes it is still within an eye reach of the danger zone, so workers may require a total conveyance out of that location although may not be necessary as stated in the definition. But our precept about this extract will be in the context of rescuing ourselves from whatsoever might jeopardize our safety in the muster point, and this I feel is definitely indispensable to sustain life, BREAD as stated in the Bible. This signifies our source of  livelihood. So if necessity warrants that we leave our muster points so as secure our daily bread we must not focus on the snake and lose sight of the scorpion, (Egyptian proverb) this explains caution, that we must cling to the company of social distancing, while ensuring frequent use of sanitizer and the salient practice of good hygiene. By so doing we would have not only survived in this period of Pandemic but we would thrived through and beyond with our friends and loved ones.

GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU TRUST IN HIM.

Ugwu Terrelbasil Onyekachi

Media/Publicity Dpt., HSEAI

A-HSEAI VISITS HON. COMMISSIONER, MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND PETROLEUM RESOURCES AKWA IBOM STATE.

It was a dream come true as the Association For Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness International (AHSEAI) recorded another milestone on her journey to greatness by a special audience given her during a courtesy visit to the Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources who was ably represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry Mr Nsudoh Nsudoh on March 12, 2020.

Mr Edidiong Ekanem, President Association for Health, Safety & Environmental Awareness International who led the delegation stated that the purpose of her visit was to hold discussions with the ministry on areas of possible support and collaboration on their awareness on Safety issues, prevention of fire outbreaks as it occurs in recent times, corona virus, drug abuse and other environmental challenges besetting Akwa Ibom State.

He also asserted that the State will derive numerous benefits from the establishment of the A-HSEAI awareness, as the Association is currently embarking on School project across the three senatorial districts in the state, establishment of Health and Safety Clubs, including employment opportunities for citizens to enable them carry out its activities as long as they comply with extant environmental laws.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Mr Nsudoh Nsudoh wished the organization success on her current assignment. He said that there are areas for possible collaboration between the ministry and Akwa Ibom State Government, such as tackling viruses in schools and work places to remedy the situation in the State and beyond. He pledged his continuing supports to the lofty ideas and programs of the organization.

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EYE PROTECTION

How much do you value your eyes/sight? Each day we are exposed to hazards that can cause strain, temporary or permanent damage to our eyes and sometimes we are not even aware.

Here are a few everyday hazards:
1: Dust and smoke exposure
2: Unclean hands used to rub our eyes.
3: Prolonged exposure to display devices such as phones and computers.

Some of us work in specialized conditions, where certain actions tasks are done. These hazards could be in form of :
1: projectiles (chipping from wood, metals etc)
2: Chemicals (Splashes and fumes).
3: Radiation (visible lights, ultra violet, heat or infrared/laser radiation).
4: Blood borne pathogens.

In a work environment there can be multiple hazards for example in construction you can have both projectile and radiation (While using a grinding machine).

What are the effects you may ask, it’s effect can be either temporary or permanent.
See below a few:
1: Eye Strain / tiredness
2: Dry eyes.
3: Computer vision syndrome ( can be caused by any display device, phones, computers, tablets etc).
4: Headaches.
5: Temporary or Permanent Blindness.

How can you protect yourself?

1: Get glasses it could be plain or dark(tainted) that will also help reduce sun glare. Always have a clean handkerchief, which you can slightly dampen and cover your face as much as possible.

2: Wash your hands often and keep a hand sanitizer close by.

3: Reduce time spent with display devices, install anti-glare cover or apps and give your eyes a break every 20-30mins.

4: Always use protective gear provided.

5: Read and follow instructions for all chemical substances being used.

6: Inspect your work station and eliminate all hazards by using the available machine guards and other control tools.

7: Know WHERE to go and who to meet for first aid treatment.

8: Get enough sleep, rest and keep hydrated, this works wonders for dry eyes.

Remember your eyes are the windows to your soul and they help you appreciate the beauty around you, they are very valuable and can be easily damaged.

Composed by Chioma Ahumareze Ukwandu

MEDIA AND PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT, A-HSEAI

Reference:

https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome

STAYING SAFE FROM CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19)

Corona virus is spread by respiratory aerosols and fluids from the infected person through activities such as coughing, sneezing, vomiting etc. contacts with fluids and articles infected with the virus are among means of transmission. It has an incubation period of 14 days ( the time from when one is infected and the manifestation of clinical symptoms).

Most people who become infected experience mild illness and can recover spontaneously, but others can experience a more severe and fatal symptoms.
Take care of your health and protect your family and others by taking the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently,
    Regularly and thoroughly with a runny water. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Reason?
Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

  • Maintain social distancing, at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Reasons?
When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Reason?
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

  • Practice respiratory hygiene.
    Ensure you and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This implies covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose off the used tissue immediately.

Reason?
COVID-19 affects the respiratory tract and the lungs.
Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.
    Stay home if you feel unwell and promptly seek medical attention. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Reason?
National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

  • Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Reason?
National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

  • Never allow your mouth and throat to be dry. Drink adequate water and other fluids often (15 to 30) to wet the mouth and throat.

Reason?
Water can easily wash down the virus through the oesophagus to the stomach where stomach acid (Hydrochloric acid) can destroy the virus and leave you safe. If the throat is dry, the virus can pass through the larynx to the trachea and the lungs which is very dangerous.

  • Persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading should protect themselves and others by reporting to the approved health facilities for the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 and furnish the care givers with adequate travel histories.

HEALTH SERVICES DEPARTMENT, A-HSEAI

Inauguration of HSEAI

The grand opening ceremony of the Association for Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness International held on the 7th of September 2019 was a stoning event that drew the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources in Akwa Ibom State.

It was well graced and honored by men of high dignity as the initiative is the first and only of its kind in the state.