President’s Column and Institute News

influence on the performance of the men as well as on safety. Having to work on site, one is exposed to the dangers of each job and I myself are often confronted with the safety regulations, procedures and practicalities. During the last IRE conference, Mariana Loo-Moorey from the Health and Safety Executive discussed the end results of bad HSE practices and how they are investigated. She gave some real life examples of serious and less serious incidents and accidents. No argument, Safety is getting a lot of priority. An example of this is the safety induction everyone has to complete before being allowed on site. Many of you may already give a deep sigh when thinking of your experience with some of these induction sessions. For me, the statement that methane burns with an invisible flame that can clearly be seen is a bit of an oxymoron.

Compared to a number of years ago, most sites today have banners reminding people of their families and the importance of getting home alive and in one piece. Notice boards informing people of the dangers of certain sections are greatly improving awareness. Even general hygiene and working hours are getting far more attention. We surely have moved a great deal forward!

My concern is that a culture still exists where top management receives bonuses based on delivery time. The main driver remains time and not quality or safety and, therefore, the workforce are treated in an inappropriate fashion that definitely does not promote all the good intentions of the posters and banners across the site. Consider for one moment in what way quality and safety issues are measured on these very beautiful progress charts. I have had personal experience where project managers suggests activities that can potentially compromise safety in order to ensure the

actual progress stays on target (red and blue lines are on top of each other). If I feel guilty about causing slippage on the schedule, and am bullied into breaking safety procedures, how much more is the guy doing the bricklaying, or welding, or cleaning, who cannot even understand the language properly? How many of them will have the courage to stand up and say the conditions are not safe, I ask you? And when they get injured, the investigation will only conclude that they did not follow the procedure? Correct or not?

Safety often involves extra costs and stands in the way of our profit driven culture. Project teams should at all times consider safety first priority and management should encourage and assist with finding the solutions to carry out the work safely and reward people for coming forward to identify safety risks. This should not be a fake paper exercise, but rather a true attempt where every action and word spoken by management should reflect an understanding of their care for the people doing the work.

Once you get me going on this subject, I emotionally struggle to stop and luckily I am not the only one. I will leave the subject of appropriate safety procedures for a next time, because this is another aspect of safety, often only being a forced exercise to comply with regulations rather than considering the real people.

And on that note; Spring is here, the clocks have moved yet again and I wish you all a joyous time!

Work safe and look out for your fellow workers.

Jan DuPlessis Theron President

Institute of Refractories Engineers INSTITUTE NEWS COME & JOIN US AT THE “IRE BIG SWING”

• Wednesday June 5th 2019 • Wortley Golf Club, Sheffield S35 7DF • 18 holes, individual competition • Full handicaps to a maximum of 28 • Soup and sandwiches served at 11.30 am

• Two course dinner and prize giving following the competition

• Dress code, casual (no need to dress for dinner) • Cost, £50.00 per player to be paid in advance Everyone welcome, please contact



March 2019 Issue

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