Providing employees with safe working conditions is of paramount importance to REA. The group’s target is to achieve zero fatalities and a continuous reduction in lost time accident rates.
REA is currently working to align its existing occupational health and safety management system with the requirements of the internationally recognised OSHAS 18001 standard. As part of this process a series of audits and Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Risk Control (HIRARC) exercises have been conducted at REA’s mills and established plantations by both external consultants and the group’s safety team. A variety of measures have been taken to address the issues identified during these assessments. These include:
- introduction of a more comprehensive safety induction for new employees and contractors
- provision of training to ensure that high risk tasks are carried out safely, including working at height and in confined spaces
- integration of the actions necessary to eliminate and control hazards into existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), as well as the development of new SOPs
- introduction of a more rigorous and inclusive incident investigation procedure, which is designed to ensure that the cause of any incident is identified and the senior management team and operations team understand the remedial action needed to prevent such an incident from recurring
- structural improvements, particularly in the mills, to control physical hazards.
With safety a high priority, the group has already embarked on a programme of investment to make the structural improvements required to control the hazards identified. Whilst the resources required to achieve this are substantial, the biggest limiting factor to obtaining OHSAS18001 at present is the speed at which the fundamental behavioural change necessary for safety considerations to become a habitual part of every employee’s working routine can be realised. This is fundamental to the group’s ability to uphold the OHSAS 18001 standard on a daily basis. However, it is recognised that achieving meaningful behaviour change will take time and require a variety of different approaches. REA has therefore made the difficult decision to delay its target for obtaining OHSAS 18001 certification until 2016.