HSE: Health Safety and Environment unpacked and simplified

Table of Contents

What is Health Safety and Environment? 

HSE stands for Health, Safety, and Environment and can also be referred to SHEQ, where people include Quality, or OHS which includes Occupation meaning health and safety related to work, or also referred to just Health and Safety. These all fall under a similar banner, within the common category or field of Health and Safety.

There are however 2 distinctly different act’s namely the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and the National Environmental Management Act 1998. The international ISO standards also have two different standards, one for health and safety namely ISO 45001 and one for environmental management namely ISO 14001. In South Africa, many organisations do manage health, safety, and environment together under or within the same workplace department, but it is important to understand that the one act focuses on safety hazards, occupational health and ill-health hazards as a result from work related activities and processes, while the other act focuses on the environmental impact these work related activities and processes have on the environment.  

health safety and environment

What is the purpose thereof? 

The purpose of HSE is ultimately for all workplaces, organisations or employers to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their personnel, visitors and contractors working on site or at the workplace. This is achieved by implementing and managing effective EHS management or HSE management systems and practices. The workplace must have Safety Officers or Supervisors who perform actual supervision tasks within operations, production and all other areas of the organization, as well as Environmental Practitioners who monitor energy consumption and energy performance, carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. 

These health safety and environmental practitioners and specialists are able to advice senior and top management on important environmental health and occupational health risks and performance, which if managed correctly will ultimately further improve successful businesses performance. There are international regulations and regulatory authorities that enforce corrective action and monitor Health, Safety and Environmental compliance within organizations and nonconformance may result in fines and if criminally prosecuted, possible jail time, or both! Non Conformances resulting in environmental damage, or loss of life to injury or chronic ill-health as a result of work related activities, is viewed by interested parties locally and within the global network environment as unacceptable. The Health, Safety and Environmental acts are there to regulate industry compliance and conformance and in so doing protect our fragile environment and our valuable workforce.        


Why is it important for businesses to understand HSE?

Without fully understanding HSE and the set of regulated systems requirements fully, it is not possible to ensure legal compliance and look after the overall health of the workplace and environment. Understanding the world requirements and implementing comprehensive solutions for HSE will ensure that organisations are well positioned to operate profitably and ensure the long term sustainability of the organization and workforce. 

Achieving certification by a verification company for Health, Safety and Environmental compliance, such as achieving international ISO verification and certification is a suggested route to take. Absolute Health Services can assist all organizations with Health, Safety, and Environmental ISO 45001 and 14001 implementation and certification. Business implementation of these environmental and safety management system frameworks will ensure that the organisation’s obligation to these standards are met. This will assist in protecting the reputation and economic viability.  

health safety and environment best practices

Key principles and best practices of Health Safety and Environment

Some of the key principles of HSE include:

  • Ensuring thorough legal compliance of the OHS and NEM acts;
  • Implementing effective safety protocols and safety management systems to reduce hazards and risks within the workplace;
  • Reducing health hazards and working in a healthy way to ensure occupational illness is eliminated, or reduced within the workplace;
  • Implementing efficient and effective environmental health policy and management compliance such as energy efficiency, reduction in the use of hazardous chemical, reduction in waste, these will all assist with reducing the rapid rate of climate change, protect our environment and create a sustainable future for us all;
  • Worker participation and communication with regards to Health, Safety and Environmental Management, as they have a broad understanding of the wide variety of workplace environments and health risks and safety problems and can suggest effective control measures and safety policies that work;  
  • Effective contractor and supplier management by ensuring that a supervisor monitors and controls their service delivery while working on site. Correct paperwork must be completed such as a section 37.2 agreement and a signature of acknowledgment of a  safe system of work through a permit to work document;  
  • Appointing an accredited HSE safety training and safety services provider that can train the workforce to improve safety performance, such as conducting regular risk assessments to reduce risks, reporting all incidents and accidents so that preventative measures can be implemented and working together with management on HSE;
AHS services and training

AHS services and training to assist you and your business to fulfill the purpose of HSE

Absolute Health Services is a fully accredited skills development provider with the Health and Welfare SETA and the Department of Labour. There are a wide variety of services we offer from accredited health and safety, first aid, fire fighting, and specialised training courses, to health and safety management system implementation, servicing of fire extinguishers, and drafting detailed evacuation, to ISO 45001 management system implementation. We have a wide knowledge of occupational health related service and these services are offered on a national basis at one of our centres or onsite at your venue, as well as in Southern Africa countries such as Botswana, Namibia, and Mozambique.  

Free Health and Safety Workplace Guide

Our comprehensive Health and Safety Guide is designed to simplify the process of implementing effective workplace safety practices. It provides clear and practical guidance to help employers, including HR and HSE managers, achieve compliance with regulations and create a safe working environment for their employees.