After a number of sheq interventions at Bamburi Cement, there was a decline in fatalities from eight in 2006 to three in 2007, one in 2008, and zero in 2009 and 2010, on site and in their transport network.
Bamburi is now in the ranks of world class health and safety performance. She explained that “industrial ecology is a growing field that combines engineering, economics, toxicology and natural sciences.”
Mwende is the former Bamburi-Lafarge chief safety and environment officer. Her new job is to ensure that the regional company complies with safety and environment standards.
Mwende had studied Civil Engineering at Moi University, where she was the only female student in the course at the time, reports Kenya Standard.
Mwende had first worked at Otieno Odongo Engineering, then at Orpower as environment and safety manager, at Wartsilla as human resources manager tasked with environment and safety, and at Homegrown in the same position, before joining Bamburi-Lafarge East Africa as chief safety manager in 2006.
She said that she had kept on looking for more challenging roles in occupational safety, health, environment and quality (sheq) management.
“I joined the department when its performance against safety standards was not impressive, but we have made a big turnaround. The secret has been working hand in hand with staff.
SHEQ lessons from other sites
“I travelled widely around the world to see how other Lafarge industrial plants managed their safety departments and this was a great learning experience. I immediately implemented what I had learnt and with staff support, we succeeded.”
“Safety is critical in manufacturing firm because fatalities attract government intervention and dents the company’s image. Bamburi Cement is a complete manufacturing firm, therefore risks are multiple.”
In her new position, Magdalene ensures her company’s waste disposal complies with global and national environment impact management standards.
From sheq to management
“It is a new department at Bamburi and I am honoured to be its first head,” she said. She holds a Masters degree in Health and Safety and is currently at INSTEAD, a prestigious school in the UK, that trains managers in management skills.
Bamburi Lafarge had identified sheq skills and management skills as crucial to its future.
Magdalene admits that being a high achiever has cost her a social life, because many men feel intimidated by her achievements.
“People have a misconception that engineers are introverts, but I am social and would not mind a man who would bring out the best in me.”
The firstborn in a family of eight, Magdalene has remained the breadwinner for her family that lives in Kyamatheka, Makueni District.
In her free time, Magdalene travels to her 60 acre greenhouse farm in Loitoktok, as a retirement plan, where she grows tomatoes, onions and other crops.
PHOTO; Bamburi Lafarge East Africa industrial ecology head, Magdalene Mwende, ensures corporate regional compliance to environment impact management standards. The group is investing in raising sheq skills and management skills, by advance training of successful managers. (Kenya Standard)