A Kenyan railway company, which used behavioural change to drastically reduce the number of injuries in its workshops, has become the first winner of a new award.
Rift Valley Railways (Kenya) Ltd (RVR)- a core subsidiary of African infrastructure and industry leader Qalaa Holdings, has won IOSH Railway Group’s International Award 2015 after seeing injuries to workers on duty in its Nairobi production workshops cut by around 90 per cent.
The success followed a two-year project to change workers’ attitudes towards their working practices after it was discovered that a very high number of injuries were occurring as a result of slips, trips and falling objects caused by poor housekeeping methods.
A ‘5S’ methodology was introduced to enhance employees’ safety and cleanliness. This centred around five key themes: sorting, setting in order, shining, standardising and sustaining.
Management also trained 29 workshop staff as workplace safety representatives to act as go-betweens for workers to raise safety and health issues with management.
As a result of taking these steps the number of reported injuries on duty across the company’s 25 workshops in Nairobi has reduced from 37 in 2011 to four throughout 2014. There has also been a sizeable drop in the number of working days lost through injuries and ill health.
This improvement in performance and the corresponding decline in the rate of accidents is an achievement that RVR shareholders including QalaaHoldings – a firm that prioritises the health and safety of employees across its subsidiaries—are extremely proud of. Commenting on the award, Karim Sadek, Managing Director of Transport and Logistics at Qalaa Holdings, said: “We have been actively involved in the turnaround efforts at RVR for the past five years, through a multi-point rehabilitation programme that has seen the company make a quantum leap in operating standards. Safety, reliability, increased hauling capacity, and simultaneous improvements to passenger and cargo services are at the core of the new RVR.”
Tom Nyaga, Occupational Safety and Health Administration Manager at Rift Valley Railways (Kenya) Ltd, said the company has rolled out similar measures at its satellite maintenance depots in Eldoret, Makadara and Mombasa following the scheme’s success.
He said: “This project was part of a long term safety and health plan by RVR to improve on the working conditions throughout its network. It has had a great impact on the staff and operations of RVR in the workshops and depots. As well as improving safety and health it has led to improved productivity levels as it’s now easier to find parts and tools.”
Tom, who has worked in the rail industry for 15 years and in occupational safety and health for the last four years, said staff had become all the more determined to improve safety and health across the company after winning the award. He added: “I am so delighted by this win. It feels so good when effort is recognised and awarded, especially at an international level.”
IOSH Railway Group launched the international award to honour projects outside the UK that have brought about safety and health improvements in the rail sector for employees or the public.
Entries were received from companies based in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. They were judged by an expert panel, which included representatives from IOSH and the IOSH Railway Group, the Office of Rail Regulation, and the Rail Safety and Standards Board.
Rift Valley Railways (Kenya) Ltd will receive the award at the IOSH Rail Industry Conference 2015 in London on 25 November. The company will also have the opportunity to present to delegates about its award-winning project.
GS Engineering & Construction in Singapore will also be rewarded after it was highly commended by judges for its ongoing work to making scissor lift machinery safer for workers constructing new railway tunnels.
Mohammad Hafiiz, Workplace Safety and Health Officer at GS Engineering & Construction, said: “Being highly commended is a strong motivation for us to go further in future, to improve further on our innovations. What is most important is the end result and like I say to my team, safety is not just about winning awards or titles, but it is about seeing our workers going back home safely every single day.”
Keith Morey, Chair of the IOSH Railway Group, said: “We hope that publicising these initiatives from countries across the world will not only help the companies involved, but also give professionals new ideas.
“Sometimes it’s not the complex, calculated answer that is going to solve the problem. Simple changes can have a big impact on people’s behaviour and give a much better solution.”
Entries are currently open for IOSH Railway Group’s annual award, which recognises safety and health improvements in the UK rail industry.
Like the international award, entries should be focused around the theme of communication. The deadline for submissions is Friday 25 September.