BME received the Sustained High-Performance Award from the chemical sector for its safety performance.

The accolade was part of the Responsible Care Awards run annually by the Chemical & Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA) – held this year as a virtual event. BME, a member of the JSE-listed Omnia Group, was a runner-up in this Category B award last year.

“This is a real achievement for every employee in the business, as workplace safety can only be achieved as a team,” said Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME. Keenan highlighted how buy in across the board was key to improving safety results, as staff internalised the ways that safety impacted and improved their lives.

“Moving beyond the traditional safety training and protocols, our success has been based on engaging the hearts and minds of every staff member – and their active contribution,” he said.

The company’s safety journey has seen its recordable case rate (RCR) decrease from 0,7 in 2016 to just 0,06 by September 2020, according to Ramesh Dhoorgapersadh, BME’s general manager for Safety, Health, Environment, Risk and Quality (SHERQ).

“This was achieved by creating a ‘cultural movement’ within the organisation under our Safety For Life brand,” said Dhoorgapersadh. “This brand focuses on the triple bottom line: safety for people, the environment and the commercial sustainability of the business.”

Throughout the 18-month journey, the company raised issues like driver awareness and fatigue management – as well as the concept of visible, felt leadership. He noted the steady improvement in employees’ spontaneous reporting of small incidents and near misses, which has become increasingly the norm in line with the accepted safety culture.

“These high levels of reporting mean that employees are caring about each other and are actively seeking ways to avoid any incident that might cause harm,” he said. Among the results of its safety efforts to date is a two-thirds reduction in BME’s road incidents involving its vehicles.

CAIA’s Responsible Care Awards are based on quantitative indicators of performance which member companies are required to submit each year, and from which category winners are short-listed and chosen.

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