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Safer with the lights on

Safety | 23/08/2019

Almost everyone has made their way back to bed through a dark room and caught their shin on the edge of a side table or nightstand. The first time it happens, it is a surprise, but after a few bruises, you are supposed to learn your lesson. The adage only allows us to be fooled once: we are on our own after that.

BRZO and safety

At Kisuma, we turn the lights on before you even set foot in a dark room. Safety is important to us. We are a BRZO company. This means that we operate in compliance with the Dutch decree regarding the risk of serious accidents. It pertains to businesses where hazardous substances are present in quantities above a specific threshold value and is accompanied by several requirements and regular inspections. As a result, it goes without saying that we work with caution and abide by current legislation and regulations.

How safe is Kisuma?

At Kisuma, the department manager is responsible for safety within their own department. Our HSE manager (Health Safety Environment) makes safety recommendations as well. But how safe is Kisuma? We work with chemicals that are not flammable. As a result, there is no increased risk of explosion or pool fire. There is no increased risk of explosion or serious fire. We are as safe here as we would be if we worked in an accounting office. However, some of our chemicals, such as our drain cleaner, are corrosive. It is essential to work carefully when using these products. Fortunately, if something does go wrong, the incidents tend to be fairly mild: tripping and falling, nicking your hand on a sharp edge, or driving into a post. These are basically the industrial equivalents of banging your shin on the coffee table.

Focusing on the future

There is a difference between the two, though. Unlike at home (we assume), we work with an accident pyramid and aim to avoid incidents in the future. This is why you would be safer at Kisuma with the “lights on” than elsewhere. Safety entails more than just solving an isolated issue. Reporting incidents and stamping out the underlying causes are crucial in order to prevent the problem from reoccurring in the future. This is how it works:

A colleague clips a post along a fixed driving route. What a pain. Damage is frustrating and takes time to repair. There is never a convenient time for it to happen to you. However, the colleague makes a report, so that the incident is recorded. A week later, a different colleague drives along the route and the same thing happens again. Three weeks later, another colleague unsuccessfully tries to avoid the same post. In this instance, a recommendation will be made to remove the post or modify the driving route. By this point, it has become clear that the post is the problem and not the employees. We try to prevent accidents whenever possible, but in the unfortunate event that they do occur, we always make an effort to learn from them.

Making mistakes

Luckily, awareness of safety has increased considerably. We have to provide a safe environment for incident reporting. If an employee makes a mistake, we assume that it is not done deliberately. When you punish people for making mistakes right away, you ultimately discourage them from reporting incidents. We try to remove any obstacles or deterrents from incident reporting, because knowing about minor issues helps us avoid serious ones. Our reporting policy is a point of pride for us, because it keeps Kisuma safer.

Protocol vs. careful consideration

At Kisuma, we limit our protocols to situations where they are strictly necessary. In our opinion, protocols limit you to “one right answer”, restricting your capacity to carefully consider your options and find alternative solutions. Context is key for every situation, so a protocol for each one is impossible. People have to be able to think for themselves. You might make the right decision or the wrong one, but when a decision is made within reason, it should never be an issue.

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