Personal protective equipment could have saved Joseph Modise' eyesight. Earlier this week I wrote how he lost his eyesight after toxic water spilled on his face. Last year MARKOSAFE dealt with a similar case. Here are some lessons one can learn.
Personal protective equipment could not just be the difference between being disfigured forever or not; it can also be the difference between a positive balance sheet and a huge financial loss.
A small production company learned that the hard way last year. This company landed a huge contract by sheer coincidence. Blinded by the possible financial fortunes and magnitude it could have on the company's growth, management was adamant to fulfil the obligations of the contract. They didn't really investigate the consequences nor did they really consider their readiness.
To fund the purchase of new machinery, the company turned to its financial reserves. The equipment was acquired and a decision was made to do the final touches of the installation themselves. The company's foreman had been with the company for many years and knew, so they believed, the machine inside out. This company opted for rather having their foreman working overtime to speed up the installation, than allowing the supplier' mechanics two more days on the premises.
This looked as if it was going well but late on the Friday afternoon a combination of fatigue and frustration made the foreman decide to take a shortcut. It would cost him dearly.
The new machine had a few new features that required additional mechanisms. These mechanisms had been installed in the same engine compartment while the overall size of the compartment hadn't been adjusted. Frustrated with the lack of space to manoeuvre, and in a rush to finish the job, the foreman took off his gloves. What happened next is not really clear, but suddenly a component dropped, pinning down his left hand. By the time his hand was freed, his pink and ring finger was so badly damaged that they could not be saved. The other two fingers were severely disfigured.
The foreman was booked off duty for 9 months and his medical cots tallied to R 179 715.02.
Saving money costs dearly
Due to the severity of the incident, inspectors of the Department of Labour were sent out to investigate the case. Their investigation lasted a day. By the time they left they had come to the conclusion that the entire workshop was ruled 'unsafe'. The inspectors closed the premises and demanded changes to be made.
With most of the financial reserves depleted, the company struggled to obtain funding to do the necessary changes. Subsequently, they had to delay the commissioning of the machine and, as such, delaying delivery of the first products to their client.
The story above is not unique. In the over 20 years that MAKROSAFE has been in the industry we have come across many stories like this. Our health and safety consultants are out every day to audit workplaces. Achieving compliant workplaces isn't really a big challenge. Maintaining the health and safety in those workplaces is.
A lesson can be learned from both cases by not cutting corners or trying to save some cost. It might save you a few pennies today but can cost you thousands in the months to come.
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