The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) will announce the next stage in development of its ISO 45001 health and safety standard later this month. Companies across various industries globally are required to comply with ISO standards before operation starts.
This standard, which is likely to be finalised and published in the first half of 2018, ensures occupational health and safety management and continual improvement of organisations’ safety practices to prevent deaths, work-related injuries and ill health, owing to working conditions.
According to the ISO, more than 6 300 people die a day from work-related accidents or diseases globally – nearly 2.3-million people every year.
Further, the burden of occupational injuries and diseases is significant for employers and the economy, resulting in losses because of early retirement, staff absence and rising insurance premiums.
The ISO 45001 standard is based on the existing ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 standards.
The standard will provide an improved framework for employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions globally.
Continuously compliant with new legislation is waste management company Interwaste, which ensures adoption of procedures and practices in their waste management operations to accommodate new standards.
The company’s health and safety practices are currently ISO 14001-compliant, with an ISO recertification audit scheduled for December.
Interwaste safety, health, environment and quality manager Juan Dorfling tells Engineering News that the formal waste sector in South Africa employs more than 30 000 people and that it is essential to keep staff healthy and safe in the workplace to ultimately ensure the continued economic viability of the sector.
“We have a highly qualified health and safety environment (HSE) department dedicated to ongoing health and safety to ensure that we are prioritising, on a daily basis, our staff and the communities in which we operate.”
He adds that the HSE department will also adapt the company’s strategy accordingly with the pending ISO 45001 once its requirements are released. This department is responsible for identifying and applying best practice and new innovations.
Dorfling explains that the company’s HSE systems are maintained by the HSE department, with more than 200 in-house audits conducted in 2016.
To this end, Interwaste actively encourages training in, and compliance with its internal HSE policies and procedures, applicable legislation and global best practice.
Interwaste shows a continuing downward trend in its lost-time-injury frequency rate. This has translated into improvements on total days lost, owing to injuries, with an improvement rate of 63% (393 injuries in 2015, compared with 248 in 2016); an improvement of 89% for average days lost, owing to injury (19 days in 2015, compared with 2 in 2016); and an improvement of about 30% for the number of injuries for every 100 employees (2.83 in 2015, compared with 2.18 in 2016).
Dorfling avers that its FG landfill facility, in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng, was the first landfill facility in South Africa to be equipped with a Class B landfill liner, which complies with OHSAS 18001 and has been audited by Germany-based validation services provider Technical Inspection Association.
At this facility, Interwaste implements solutions, such as fully automated shredding technology and baling machines, driver cameras and vehicle monitoring, to assist in achieving optimal workplace safety.
To ensure constant assessment and evaluation of the landfill operating area, Interwaste has a permanent cover over the site’s leachate dam, which prevents odours from spreading.
The company proactively monitors upstream and downstream borehole water on site to ensure that the landfill has no effect on the groundwater and that no subsurface contamination takes place. These determinations have been confirmed by an independent expert consultancy that did a water sampling study for the site over a 1.5 km radius.
Further, Interwaste also commissioned safety experts to manage the design and implementation of its gas management system, which harvests and flares gas from the landfill facility.
Dorfling highlights that regular monitoring of ambient air quality on site has consistently shown that emissions do not pose adverse health risks to surrounding communities.
He adds that external audit findings from December 2016 found that the site achieved 99.5% compliance with the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill legislative framework, and 97.1% compliance with the conditions of the site’s licence specifications which was issued by government at the start of the landfill’s operation.
“These audits are vital to ensure peace of mind for surrounding communities that are often concerned with living or working in close vicinity to a landfill site,” Dorfling points out.
He adds that such communities are often concerned with Interwaste’s operation’s impact on the environment, and their health and safety. Therefore, the site is continuously monitored and managed to evaluate its impact and compliance to licensing conditions.
Dorfling concludes by noting that Interwaste maintains an open-door policy and active engagement with communities to discuss concerns that the landfill facility does not pose elevated risk to the health of staff, the public or the environment.