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Why move from good to great in SHEQ?

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“In the moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

How can you move from having an ‘okay’ SHEQ system to a great SHEQ system?

In their book Nine Elements of a successful safety and health system John Czerniak and Don Ostrander lists the 9 elements as;

  • Management leadership and commitment and the others as
  • Organization communications and system document;
  • Assessment, audits and continuous improvement
  • Hazard recognition, evaluation and control,
  • Workplace design and engineering
  • Operational safety and health programs
  • Employee involvement
  • Motivation, behaviour and attitudes and lastly
  • Training and orientation

Management leadership and commitment

We asked two people; one a senior manager, the other a lower level employee of three companies the following question:  “Is your management committed to health and safety?”

Company A employs more than a thousand people.  Their Health & Safety director replied: “We are World class, the leader in our industry”.  A delivery person in that same company said: “What? I never see them (senior management).  They talk to me about safety maybe once a month when we have a toolbox talk (safety talk) and then, most of the time they talk about stuff I don’t understand, so I don’t think they care about my safety.”

Company B employs around 250 people.  Their General Manager said: “Sure, we employed a Safety Manager, you can ask him.”  A filing clerk replied: “I’m not sure but we have a Safety Manager.”

Company C has 25 employees, I asked the owner (CEO) the same question and he replied: “We are doing our best, but everything is not 100%, we can’t afford to hire more hands.” A cleaner in that same company replied: “The boss-man always talks about safety he does not want us to get injured or damage his equipment.”

If you can align yourself with Company A, B, or C, we can assist you to improve your Health and Safety program.  You can email us at

Organization communications and system documents

Written communication is great for audits, we have evidence that Mr. X told all his staff that they must attend a safety meeting on Friday and we have minutes of that meeting.  We can see that they discussed why Mrs. Y, wearing stiletto’s, carrying five huge files, fell down the stairs when she tried to walk past the cleaning lady washing the stairs, resulting in a sprained ankle and many bruises on her legs and arms.

Unfortunately, the cleaning lady might not be able to read or write English, so did someone scream at her to put the ‘slippery when wet’ sign up when she is washing the floor, or did someone actually explained the hazards to her, in her language and made sure she understood?

“…but I e-mailed everyone!”  Great if everyone has access to e-mail!  What about the above cleaning lady?  Do you have her personal e-mail address as she does not have a company e-mail address?  But then, she can’t read English, so did you use the translator function?  Nope, I did not think so!

Another problem is retrieving documents!  In some smaller companies paper is still being generated and filed, so information is not too difficult to find, “I will just quickly ask the filing clerk.”  The larger companies moved away from paper-based to fully integrated IT systems and some companies have amazingly user friendly Electronic SHERQ (safety, health, environment, risk & quality) management systems, but they come at a price.

This leaves the company that cannot justify spending that kind of money on an Electronic SHERQ management system to improvise and therein lie the problem!  Ask people to find electronically stored information and the response will vary from; “sure, here” within a click of the mouse to “mmm, just wait a little bit, I know it is here somewhere, I will give it to you in a minute” and five minutes and five hundred clicks later, still not the right document, to “I don’t know what is wrong, I now don’t have access.”

Assessment, audits and continuous improvement

How do you know how good or bad your SHERQ (Safety, Health, Environment, Risk & Quality) system is?

Unless it is audited against a standard,  you will not know!

What standard?

The absolute minimum is legal compliance!  It is dangerous not to be legally compliant because when everything is running smoothly, no one worries about it but, heaven forbid, someone is seriously injured and you are subjected to legal compliance audits and they WILL find the loop holes, the areas of legal non-compliance!  The next question is; “Do you have sufficient financial backing to cover the fines and/or are you okay with some jail time?”

You might also have a system enforced by your major customer so that will be the standard, as well as the legal requirements of your country, province and city bylaws, as mentioned above.

You might have a fully integrated SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment, Risk & Quality) system with some added ‘bells and whistles.’

Best practice is to have it recorded in a SHERQ System Manual, ensure people are trained in it so everyone is fully aware of the company’s SHERQ Objectives and targets and their role in achieving it.

If you want to have an assessment / audit email us on

Why is Continual Improvement like climbing a lean-to ladder?

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If you do not have a Continual Improvement Plan you might be going DOWN and not up because;

Damaged steps – you might me moving one step forward in the right direction and two steps back

Not level and not secured – if you don’t have the right foundations for your SHERQ System it will wobble and collapse

Exceeding the ladder’s weight rating – if your company does not have enough people to fulfill all the required tasks you are overloading the existing employees.

Ladder not at a 75-degree angle – you cannot implement a fully functional SHERQ system in a day because it is not the initial system that matters, it is maintaining it that makes it a SHERQ system.

If you need us to position the ladder for you give us a call on +27(0)83 386 4633

Hazard recognition, evaluation and control

In his book Hazard Analysis Techniques for System Safety, Clifton A. Ericson II spent a lot of time on Conceptual, Preliminary, Detailed, System Design Hazards as well as Operational Design Hazards and then our favourite the Human Design Hazard Analysis and lastly the Requirements Design Hazard Analysis.

Have you ever heard of ISO 31000 or ISO 31010?  No!  Not a problem!  It covers the framework for managing risks and the actual process.

Have you ever heard of ISO 31010?  No!  Not a problem!  It covers risk assessment concepts, risk assessment process and the selection of risk assessment techniques.

Now what could be a problem is if the answer to the following questions are NO!

Question: Is your risk assessment working for you?  No!  Oops, you have a problem.

Question: Have you analyzed the consequences?  No!  Are you relying on luck?

Now this is a problem!  We could help, e-mail us on

Workplace design and engineering

Have you ever heard of ergonomics?  No!

Have you ever had employees complaining about shoulder pain, neck pain & back pain?  Yes!

You have a problem!  In certain companies diseases of the musculoskeletal system and psychological illnesses are the most important reasons for days off work and sick leave.  In some countries it might be seen as an occupational disability and the company might be held liable.

In their book Ergonomics for Beginners, Jan Dul and Bernard Weerdmeester refers to the formal definition of ergonomics as “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design, in order to optimize human well-being an overall system performance.

We could help just e-mail us at

Operational safety and health programs

Allow me to refer you back to Management Leadership and Commitment.

If you don’t find the answer there go to and look around.

Employee involvement

Once more I will refer you to Management Leadership and Commitment.

If you don’t find the answer there go to and look around.

Motivating (below) employee performance through work is a fine art and keeping them motivated is skill.  Just remember, money is not always a motivator for everyone.

Motivation, behaviour and attitudes

Motivation, behaviour and attitudes!  This is our passion!  Go to and look around.

It is also the most challenging part of implementing any SHERQ system because policies, procedures, work instructions, processes and forms are patient!  They can be written, modified, printed, people can be trained in them but they mean absolutely NOTHING if the human does not have the motivation to fill in the form, or the attitude to arrive on time for meetings, or still continue with his/her at risk behaviour as soon as the supervisor turned his/her back?

Training and orientation

In closing I would like to quote a ‘guilty’ party during a company’s internal accident investigation, speaking in his own defense: “…now how was I supposed to know this?  Yesterday it was 20km/ hour in this area and then someone somewhere decided overnight that it should be 10km/hour.  Show me why that decision was made and show me when and how you informed me…you have nothing!  I knew that, because stuff always goes down like this.  You must pay us more if you want us to be clairvoyant.”

If this sounds familiar contact us


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