Magdalene is in charge of the safety programs in Kenya and Uganda. She explains her job’s challenges.
"I am a civil engineer by qualification, with additional qualifications in HR, and will be completing my Masters of Science in Occupational Health and Safety this year. I joined Lafarge 3 years ago and am responsible for health and safety in Kenya and Uganda.
It is a very challenging area in terms of influencing individuals to make a "hearts and minds" commitment to safety, when they have previously worked all their lives in various places without any mention of personal injury prevention. The problem is also made more complex by a cultural belief that "Ajali haina kinga", "Accidents cannot be prevented, they are bad luck"! With commitment from senior management, hard work and passion, we have been able to overcome that cultural myth even in such a fragile context.
The challenge was to remain excellent in our own right, to promote a safe internal culture and not to support external culture. We engaged and lobbied for government support through the Ministry of Transport. I believe that people who fail are those who do not try! We got overwhelming support by first being appointed as stakeholders to the National Road Safety Council on policies. This partnership was confirmed in December 2009 when the Minister of Transport came to launch our Road Safety Campaign trail.
Immediately after that the Kenyan police launched a similar campaign which followed on from ours until the end of the year, with significant positive results. Through our hard work we have realized we can change cultural myths - basically, achieve the impossible today!
Within Lafarge, we have teamed up with Ecuador and Pakistan, who had similar challenges. We shared with them our action plans and how we succeeded in overcoming the challenges. Achieving 2 years without a fatal accident in Kenya - compared with an average of 6 fatalities in 2005 and before - has massively increased my drive and passion for safety and for working for Lafarge.
Lafarge's firm commitment to "zero accidents" in its operations has pushed us to go that extra mile and achieve results we thought were impossible in our kind of environment."