SHERQ is a widely implemented management system to address concerns about health, safety, risks and quality. Indeed, the acronym stands for Safety Health Environment Risk and Quality. The implementation of such a system focuses on developing a scientific approach to dealing with the health and safety issues at the workplace, and to protect visitors to the said premises while minimising the risk to the environment, and improving overall quality.
Why Implement SHERQ?
Implementation of the risk management approach helps the organisation and its employees to accurately identify potential health and safety risks which, if not addressed, can lead to serious injury, disease, environmental disaster, financial loss and the loss of human, animal and plant life. It gives the necessary framework in which to implement policies and procedures for the identification, monitoring, controlling and managing of risks. Companies, apart from minimising negative effects on the environment and human population, save money through implementation.
Environmental spills cost money to clean up and the company can be penalised through fines and imprisonment of responsible parties. Should the company’s actions, for instance, lead to people being injured because of a biochemical spill, the company is also liable for compensation towards the injured parties. Any loss of work time because of injuries or disease costs the company money. As such, most firms see the relevance and benefits of SHERQ implementation and embrace the approach to reduce risks and subsequent costs associated with these.
Implementation of the system furthermore leads to an improvement in work environment quality, products and ultimately customer satisfaction. With a standardised approach to handling the environmental, health, quality and safety risks, the company can create an audit trail, prevent future incidents and gain a competitive edge over companies that do not follow the SHERQ approach. Apart from these, the company ensures compliance with legal requirements.
For any management system to be successful, it must be implemented throughout the entire company. Top-level management must be involved and employees be made aware of the benefits associated with following the SHERQ management system approach. Consistent application of the various underlying principles is key to the success of the system. Policies and procedures manuals are in place on how to identify the various risks, control them, minimise effects, investigate incidents, report on such, make recommendations and prevent future incidents.
Importance of Training
Unless the employees are aware of the principles of SHERQ, trained in the various aspects of quality control, health and safety, environmental management and risk assessments, they will not be able to consistently apply SHERQ principles. This will cause weak links in the company’s approach. As such, it is essential to have employees trained according to their job levels and responsibilities. SHERQ officers and representatives must be appointed to manage the risks, while training in incident investigation is essential for the health and safety officers. The representatives must be trained in communicating the safety plans to the employees of the organisation.
Those employees that are responsible for reviewing company policies and procedures, departmental application thereof, and identification of shortcomings, must attend internal auditing courses. This type of training includes how to plan, conduct and conclude the internal audit process and report on findings.
What is the Policy Framework?
The SHERQ policy framework is the guideline document in which the company sets out provisions for and management of health and safety facilities, hygiene rules, identification of the various risks, their management, initiating controls and identifying risks. A framework example is to:
- Have a system in place for promoting health and safety of employees and visitors to the workplace through the reduction and control of health and safety risks;
- Provide policies and procedures for the guidance of workers regarding identification, management, control and elimination of the relevant risks;
- Implement a system of corrective steps for improvement of quality;
- Implement a system to reduce errors;
- Following an approach to eliminate repeat incidents.
The health and safety policy guideline can, for instance, make provision for the management of hygiene through set procedures to follow, like washing hands after visiting the restrooms and before working with food. As part of the environmental framework, specific procedures can be developed for the monitoring of possible chemical spills and steps to take should there be a spill. Proper identification of hazardous substances by means of standard labelling and procedures for storage of the chemicals can form part of the policy and procedures manual.
SHERQ is an essential system to implement for the improvement of the health and safety profile of the company, to reduce its impact on the environment and to ensure consistency in quality.