Ensuring safety - one lift at a time

Johannes Shihepo is a machinery inspector at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation

30 April 2021 | People

STAFF REPORTER

A busy day at work for Shihepo begins at 08:00 at the ministry of labour, industrial relations and employment creation, where he works in the occupational safety and health (OSH) division.

He grabs his personal protective equipment and an inspection checklist and heads out for either a scheduled, routine, requested or emergency inspection.

Machinery inspections are done at factories and associated industries, public or private institutions and shopping malls where the OSH regulations are applicable for the purpose of enforcing them.

Such inspections involve the inspection of dangerous machinery such as lifts, escalators and boilers to ensure that they are designed, installed, used, maintained and repaired according to safety and other control measures, and also for the purpose of preventing accidents.

“During routine inspections I verify if these units are safe for further use, operating within the boundaries of the law. We conduct inspections accompanied by the approved inspection authorities (lift, escalator or boiler installers and maintenance service providers) approved by the ministry and contractually appointed by the client. Such an AIA is usually the link between the ministry and the client."

In addition to conducting inspections, OSH is also responsible for the registration and issuance of certificates to competent AIAs who render services to the public in occupational safety and health related areas; awarding of certificates for use to successful escalators, lifts and boilers and in cases of emergencies or incidents, conduct investigations and draft reports to the prosecutor-general for possible accountability.

On his busiest work day, Shihepo may have up to six inspections and once completed, he heads back to his office to draft a report on his findings and make recommendations. In the midst of the busy schedule, he says he still makes time to read and keep himself abreast of the latest technology.

Co-workers describe him as a reliable, down-to-earth and proactive individual with a passion for his work. His hobbies involve watching motorsport events (spinning, drifting and racing) and listening to music.

Shihepo completed his secondary education at the Oshigambo High School in the Oshikoto Region, after which he pursued a Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering at the Polytechnic of Namibia (now Namibia University of Science and Technology).

His career began at CMB Consulting Engineers in Windhoek, where he did his work-integrated learning before taking on his first job at Namibia Breweries Limited. He then worked at Coca-Cola Company at Oshakati as a maintenance planner before joining the labour ministry as an OSH machinery inspector.

"I love my work because it comprises of almost everything that I have done in my career, both technical and working with people from different backgrounds," he says.

To pursue a career in the OSH Division, Shihepo says, one must be professional - with high-level integrity, independent, unbiased, have communication skills and a passion for serving people.

Additionally, a mechanical or electrical engineering qualification from a tertiary institution, a valid driving licence and knowledge of the Labour Act and OSH regulations are an added advantage.

Given the power to change anything at all in the world, "I would work hard to minimise and hopefully eliminate people's perceptions and fears of safety and health concerns emanating from dangerous machinery in workplaces," he says.

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