Safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ)

Key highlights

  • Significant decrease in the numbers of serious passenger incidents
  • Risk-based behavioural focus on safety is leading to an interdependent culture
  • Injury-free opening of the new Durban (Riverhorse) operations site
  • Continued and new accreditation of certain ISO standards

Key challenges

  • Safe contractor management remains a risk area and SHEQ priority
  • Total number of recordable injuries remained relatively flat with a marked increase in the number of manual handling incidents
  • Light vehicle and commercial truck incidents remain high on the agenda for further reduction
  • Ensuring appropriate management competence for SHEQ following the restructure

The Golden Rules

To embed our safety culture, we encourage employees to remember that rules should not be blindly followed, but should be viewed as risk-based enforcements that protect us and our colleagues. We believe all incidents are preventable and continuously strive to attain zero harm.

Safety is not merely a key element in the Afrox value chain – it is a way of life.

The Golden Rules provide a roadmap to zero harm and are derived from The Linde Group’s global safety standards within the Linde integrated management system and standards (LiMSS).

Golden Rule

Focus areas

Personal ownership for safety

  • Leadership development in the SHEQ programme
  • LeadSafe engagements, coaching and site visits to promote an understanding and application of personal ownership for safety. Personal responsibility is deemed critical and foremost in our risk assessments for achieving zero harm as it is a high-likelihood, critical severity risk

We will consistently demonstrate personal ownership and accountability for safety through actions and behaviours.

Driving vehicles

  • Transport and passenger car safety plans and programmes

We will operate our vehicles safely and responsibly at all times, and use the safety equipment provided.



  • Focused audit programme and review
  • Site visits

We will use the permit-to-work system where necessary to ensure hazards and risks are understood and controlled.


Working at height

  • Focused campaign, particularly customer engineering services (CES)1
  • Revisit ActSafe2 for CES

We will only work at height when the required safety measures to prevent falls are in place.


Lifting operations

  • Focused campaign, particularly CES
  • Revisit ActSafe2 for CES

We will ensure lifting operations using cranes or other lifting devices are carried out safely.


Contractor management

  • Focused audit programme and review, including procurement
  • Site visits

We will select and manage our contractors so that they meet The Linde Group’s safety requirements.


Engineering management of change

  • ­Focused audit programme and review
  • Site visits

We will only proceed with technical changes to process plants and process equipment when an engineering management of change process addressing the safety risks has been completed.


­Incident reporting

  • ­Senior-level incident reviews
  • Training

We will report and investigate incidents so that the causes can be identified and corrected, and learning shared.


To ensure that the Golden Rules are accessible and understood, the rules will be translated into a number of local South African languages in 2017.

1 Afrox provides the services of a dedicated CES department for gas reticulation equipment installations.
2 ActSafe is a behavioural programme focused on developing safe action by employees.

SHEQ KPIs are a unique indicator of business health, profitability and sustainability

Evolving our safety mentality

By training employees to view safety as a priority, we assist them to shift their behaviour, and in turn the behaviour of their teams and the Company as a whole.

Performance review

Key performance indicators

1 Restated
2 In 2015, Afrox began recording all vehicle incidents, instead of only avoidable vehicle incidents.
3 Includes direct and indirect emissions.
4 LeadSafe engagements are leadership-driven safety interventions.

Our total recordable injuries increased by a single unit, predominantly due to incidents involving manual handling. We had nine major incidents (five of which were security-related). As one of our Golden Rules, contractor safety performance shows room for improvement, which will be guided by our safe contractor management approach that outlines how they are selected, assessed and inducted. Overall, our safety performance held a positive line throughout our recent restructure programme and we continue to focus on activities that pose the highest risk to our business.

Safety and health

Total recordable injuries (lost time and medical treatment)

We experienced a significant increase in the number of LTIs and a slight increase in the number of lost working days of 116 (2015: 104), equally spread across employees and contractors. Five incidents were related to manual handling activities and the majority of these injuries point to unsafe behaviour by operators and drivers, and in some cases, a hindered management line of sight. The total recordable incidents were marginally higher from the previous year at 25 (2015: 24). We measure the recordable injuries of contractors in the same way as our own employees and the totals refer to both employees and contractors.

To raise awareness on manual handling risks, our internal standard was updated to include incident reporting and investigation guidelines. A training and assessment task was assigned to all employees, and a business-wide team stand-down programme was initiated to collect ideas from employees on how to improve performance.


Transport safety is a significant component of our operations as Afrox distributes products across over 25 million kilometres every year. We strive to attain a target of no vehicle accidents and empower our drivers to operate vehicles safely. KPIs in vehicle safety rates are based on 1 000 000 kilometres and cover the entire business (including rental cars and any incidents that occurred during the performance of Company business in Company or personal vehicles). Considerable management attention was directed at reducing the number of significant and serious vehicle incidents compared to 2015.

Poor driver judgement resulted in our first roll-over incident1 since 2013. A combination of physical implements called hard controls (these are drive-cams, driver and fatigue monitoring equipment) and behavioural programmes called soft controls help mitigate such incidents.

To promote transport safety, we continue to press the use of ActSafe training and apply DriveSafe behavioural safety training for passenger car safety. Refer to our online SHEQ supplementary report for further detail.

Potential severe injuries and fatalities

Potential severe injuries and fatalities are comparable with 2015 figures. Our approach to these incidents is to analyse and investigate events with the same rigour as major incidents to identify improvements and potentially save a life.

Visible leadership is a significant safety driver for our business. Through our LeadSafe engagement process, line managers are encouraged to intervene when unsafe acts or behaviour are witnessed. Interventions are logged and the trends analysed for preventive action. Afrox has evolved the process to include a mobile application which will facilitate remote logging of information.

We have not recorded an employee or contractor fatality since 2010. However, six unfortunate third party fatalities occurred this year. Five of these were vehicle incident-related, of which four occurred from a single incident involving third party passenger car collision with an Afrox truck. The incident occurred in February 2016, when the third party passenger vehicle departed from its lane and veered into an Afrox truck travelling in the opposite direction.

Partnering to enhance safety

Afrox recently partnered with Arrive Alive to promote safe driving awareness and exercise our social responsibility. Both parties share information on safe vehicle operation and use the Arrive Alive website and social media networks to provide the public with access to such data.

Process safety management

Process safety management refers to the management of major accident hazards at our plants. It remains a key focus area, as these low frequency safety risks could have potentially high impacts on our business. Our Golden Rules (e.g. permit-to-work) and process safety awareness workshops promote high levels of discipline and conformance. Deviations from protocol are revealed during the Company-wide integrated internal audits performed annually.


Afrox is committed to legal environmental compliance, such as ISO 14001 environmental accreditation, and will be paying increased attention to its carbon footprint going forward. As a manufacturing intensive business with a significant logistics component, carbon emissions, water usage and waste need to be managed effectively in line with sustainable operation.

We measure these parameters annually against improvement performance targets and experienced the following changes year-on-year:

  • Purchased electricity increased by 3%.
  • Carbon emissions increased by 3.5%.
  • Water usage decreased by 9%.
  • Total waste decreased by 39%.
1 A vehicular incident that leads to the vehicle overturning.


FSSC ISO 22000 accreditations continued at our CO2 plants. Afrox remains a market leader in South Africa for this food safety system accreditation. The new Port Elizabeth ASU obtained an ISO 14001:2015 accreditation as required by legislation. The ISO 9001 accreditations were aligned to our new operating model and the planned transition to the new 2015 version of this standard in 2017 at strategic sites will benefit from increased leadership and a risk-based approach to safety.

Our long-term plan is a Company accreditation which will assist alignment and process efficiency throughout Afrox, and we continue to explore this vision and develop a roadmap to guide our direction. Key stakeholders from our process chain engage through The Afrox Quality Council to create and improve quality programmes and construct action plans.

All our actions are driven by the needs of our customers. Quality is no different. Our desire to consistently add value is integrated into the sales and marketing team, who receives rigorous product training. In addition to undergoing customer audits for vital quality feedback, our quality improvement circles (consisting of customers and Afrox employees) collaborate to find solutions to quality performance issues while feedback mechanisms, such as Rant and Rave, provide a platform for direct customer input.

The electronic Rant and Rave platform allows customers to comment on and rate our service and products or air their discomfort, safe in the knowledge that they will receive feedback on negative posts within two hours. Updates can be viewed instantly by The Linde Group and Afrox.

Future focus areas

  • The SHEQ roadmap will continue to be a focus area towards 2020. This performance review tool details standards and behaviour needed to reach zero harm and is integral to the SHEQ strategy. This includes quality, driver and vehicle safety, health and safety, environmental elements and our leadership and safety culture
  • Further understanding the cost impacts of not reaching our quality targets
  • Improving our safety culture across all areas of the business by driving interdependent behaviour and embedding required SHEQ behaviour and values at all levels. This includes occupational health and process safety
  • Introducing risk management and associated training as a business discipline. We are aware that 100% right behaviour 100% of the time will make us a leading company, provided we retain our focus on customers, safety, collaboration and cooperation
  • Our employees can help us find innovative solutions to new problems and safer ways of operating – provided we give them the platform to do so. Improving such engagements will be a priority
  • From an environmental perspective, we will continue to focus on maintaining accreditations and compliance to our minimum standards throughout the business.

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