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The study of process health and safety management deficiencies relative to hazardous chemical exposure.

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The main objectives of this study were to identify the main process health and safety management deficiencies that require senior management’s attention. To identify the critical drivers that could be used to improve health and safety to reach generative process health and safety culture level five and to develop a model of effectively managing hazardous chemical substance exposure in the petrochemical industry. Ethical clearance to conduct the study was obtained from the University of KwaZulu - Natal Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSS/1094/018D). The targeted population was 800 employees in one major petrochemical enterprise in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The study was conducted by distributing 400 questionnaires manually to the randomly selected potential participants of which 259 were returned duly completed and used. The returned questionnaires were statistically analysed using descriptive statistics in SPSS version 25. The research was planned to first explore the concepts by qualitative research methods, such as in depth literature review. The quantitative data collection and analysis is based on a quantitative research method involving questionnaire survey and statistical data analysis methods. The validation of the findings and related conclusions rely on the results from both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The mixed method was considered the best option for this study as it assisted to leverage the advantages of both quantitative and qualitative research methods in achieving the research objectives. The key process health and safety management deficiencies to be prioritized are, namely, poor engineering design integrity, poor controls when working with suspended loads, poor controls when working at heights, poor housekeeping, poor controls of source of ignition, verifying energy isolation before starting to work on equipment, poor health and safety risk assessments, handling of hazardous chemicals, human error and fatigue management. The key process health and safety drivers to be prioritized for generative process health and safety culture are, leadership commitment, chemical exposure management, health and safety risk assessment, process hazard analysis and permit to work. The developed generative process health and safety culture model was subjected to rigorous measurement analysis using structural equation modelling, namely, principal component analysis, goodness-of-fit measure, assessment of normality, discriminant validity, multicollinearity, model adequacy, reliability and validity. This study will assist senior management with a framework to reduce process health and safety incidents in the petrochemical industry and improve health and safety towards generative culture where organisations say, “Health and safety is the way we do business”.


Doctoral Degrees. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.