EHS–> In Insanity??

First of all my apologies for being so quiet for more than 8 weeks!! My hectic business commitments at client sites as well as personal situations to take care have kept me of from posting my thoughts here. I am now taking a break of 10 days from work and will be #BANGALORE, so plan to post some thoughts over next few days! 

So

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I am just stunned and speechless at EHS implementation, especially from manufacturing standpoint as I see as well as I hear from my esteemed EHS consultant friends, the story I hear are all same. I can only think of Albert Einstein quotes above. The situation is same in 95 out of 100 entities !! 

Why I / we feel so!

What leaders and facilities need is Management 101—> Planning—>Coordination–>Communication–>Discussion—>Decision—> Execution…… With Empathy, listening laced in. Alas, in most places, few of these elements are missing or absent due to lack of awareness. 

I will classify them in to following categories and I see these common sense approach to EHS management is missing across wherever I go or when I speak to people. 

The absence of these “7C as we call it, seriously takes the EHS implementation to an Insanity state. What we see is LACK of 

  1. Culture: Challenging status quo, Encouraging Dissent,Questioning attitude.
  2. Committment—->To put business interest first&see every activity as value add.
  3. Communication—-> Visual management, Notice boards, flow of information on progress, Minutes, Training, key messages, etc.
  4. Care—->Empathy, Support for people,basic infrastructure,Work place Hygiene
  5. Compliance—->Get to know legal,Corporate norms. Accept nothing less for sake quickness, profit or boss said so,etc.
  6. Class Excellence—–>Integrated management systems with functional coordinators for Process safety,Change Management,Proactive Maintenance, Consolidated Management systems for QESH, Business Excellence operating systems, all are done in haste with no overview.  
  7. Coaching——> Show to people, handhold them, make their eyes open to best practices, send them across wherever available/access to see the best ……

When it comes to people:- I see a very sad state of poor leadership across !! Leaders across all levels, including EHS folks have gone in to state of Zombie of going with the flow or not challenging status quo or succumbing to pressure. What I/we see now is the absence of what, we saw, or actively involved in 1980s, 90s, besides what our leaders as well exhibited!!

So what is missing:- Insanity exists across due to absence  of following elements and its requirement that makes people/organisation a successful entity. What is missing, absent are:- (I am reproducing the success factors which our leaders showed us for 20 years to make us and our organisation a most succesful/vibrant one. (1990-2010)) 
  1. Consultation/communication:-This needs to be two-way, not one way with no feedback or comment. The best is individual talk or in small groups.
  2. Know your people :- Get to know your people on a personal level. Not just what they do at work. (One on Ones!) 
  3. Get out in the operating area,GEMBA, Be visible.You Can not do #2 without this. You must see and discuss first hand what is going on in the workplace. Being in an office in an ivory tower, all the time does not allow this to happen. People want motivation beyond money! Alas!!! 
  4. Set an expectations and enforce:- people must know that there are expectations and they will be held accountable for results and execution. This is done by formal communications and day-to-day follow-up.
  5. Set the example:- Leaders/ People cannot say one thing and then not enforce or follow themself.
  6. Accountability:- People must know that they are accountable for what they do on the job and there are consequences for not doing a good job.
  7. Coaching /Feedback :-This is a continuous process. Every time leaders have a conversation it is an opportunity to provide some coaching as well as feeback to the team.The best is when the person doesn’t realise that it is taking place. They think it was just a conversation.
  8. Champion Teamwork:-Teams get the most done. However, all teams must have a leader or coordinator. 
  9. Push the decision-making down to where the work is:- People doing the work know the most about the work so they should be making the decisions about it at Ground Zero.
  10. Develop People:- The key to any success, making your people better.
  11. Tie rewards to performance :- The piece that is critical. What gets rewarded, gets done. Rewards must be tied to key business performance metrics. 
  12. Meet target dates:- Deadline is Sacrosanct. This is an absolute. To not meet target dates is showing disrespect for the person to whom you have committed an action.
  13. Establish and follow implementable procedures:- Do as said, said as do. Organisations have procedures and systems in place for a reason. To not follow just increases the potential for a costly mistake.
  14. Listening:- All leaders, must be good listeners. Leaders learn that way and it is an indication that we value what our employees, team members, opinion makers say.
  15. Last but not least, House-keeping:- First impressions are often the most important.

So How this insanity can be tackled at a level above at which it was created:-

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  1. Take advantage of Legal compliance as baseline. Nothing works better than knowing and complying with laws of land. There are so many aspects in it that enables the first step to overcome insane situation. 
  2. Risk based approach to operations and situational mitigation through action plans.
  3. QESH linkage to business excellence through management systems like ISO 9000,14001, 45001 and 51000 for various pillars of operational excellence.
  4. Process safety excellence through PSMS; work the standards they invaluble.
  5. Embrace Management of Change for every aspect of Man, Machine, Material, Method, Mileu, Management.
  6. Setting up operational aspects through predictive maintenance beyond productive maintenance.
  7. Embrace operational excellence —> Standardized work—>Rapid Problem Solving–>Knowledge sharing—> Built in Quality—> Organisation and people development etc.(CourtesyHoneywell)DidyouKnow_HOS_B2C.png
  8. Link performance to behaviours expectations to achieve results. 

Again easily said than done!! It is a long haul, wishing folks the very best.

Regards

Karthik

12/11/2017

2230 Hrs. Bangalore, India.

 

Tony Bucci – Great Guy!

September 11th is an eventful day!

  1. Swamy Vivekananda- Brothers and Sisters speech Chicago.
  2. Subramanya Bharati the revolutionary Tamil poet Death.
  3. Of course, the 9/11 attacks on United States! ( I was at Lahore, Pakistan that day)

It was also a personally a significant day for I met my very good friend and great EHS colleague for the last time at Phoenix, Arizona during my 2011 visit. Tony (Anthony Bucci) who was ailing for sometime had recovered well and took time to meet me at the Arizona Grand Hotel on the afternoon of September 11th, 2011. It was a Sunday, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and so Tony turned up after morning ceremonies, post lunch. As we finished our talk around 3pm, Tony was leaving back home and started walking away good 20 feet towards his car, when I shouted, Tony let us have a picture. He agreed and walked back and the hotel staff of Arizona Grand, clicked the picture. 15 days later during last week of September 2011,Tony passed away at the age of 39.  I still don’t know why I felt we need to take a picture for I have met Tony many times before and every likelihood I would have met him afterwards in my visits to USA!! 

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Tony is a classic case of how EHS professionals should be! A technically sound guy with amazing stamina to deliver training sessions 8 hours non stop taking all the questions, comments from people as required ( I do that now having got inspiration from Tony) as well as very forthright and candid in giving feedback to people on things he saw. Tony was always willing to share any information I reached out when I have to implement special projects across global locations. He had a good 4-5 years head start  in the organisation and I had just entered in 2006to replicate some of the measures in my business locations across the globe as well as see synergy in some common initiatives. He never thought twice about sharing resources at his disposal and was always available for discussions despite 10 hour time difference between us.  When not known or hitting a wall, Tony was always pointing to the direction in his network thus the solution to the problem or a resource is available.

Oh, Yes; The pranks he played on people who did mischief with him were legendary. 

Tony will always be missed. Stay in heaven my friend until we meet.
Karthik

9/11/2001. 1150am ! 

 

 

 

 

 

“Saving Private Ryan & Dunkirk”!Wake up EHS Folks!

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A ‘motley procession of vessels’ rescued 338,226 troops over 10 days #DUNKIRK 

World War II has dished out 100s of Movies and books, both fiction, and non fiction as well as Fiction tuned to real events! Two of such movies may stand out from war rescue point of view !! 1) Saving Private Ryan -1998 and about 20 years later, 2) Dunkirk. I am pretty sure, Dunkirk shall achieve the same level of accolades as SPR did. So much so that I am booking tickets for the show Sunday with my son! This would be my Seventh movie or so in 28 years!!! ( I am yet to completely watch, Saving Private Ryan!!!!!! On September 11,2001, at Lahore, Pakistan, 30 minutes in to movie in my hotel room video, 1715 Pakistan time, my YAHOO Messenger on computer,flashed, “AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK”)

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So what war movies can teach us /show us in our day-to-day life as EHS professionals! I am penning my thoughts! Would look to your comments/inputs!

  1. Leaders never shy of taking responsibility and own up to themselves for results:- Several situations at work or in battle the leadership capabilities alone largely determines the success of a mission. Leadership is all about intelligent risk taking with visualisation of what others can’t see. Leaders never shy away from owning the responsibility mostly for failures and always pass success to the team mates. EHS folks can do better if they inherit these characteristics. They can align these values to organisation behaviour model to achieve results. Leadership is also about being available for their people. Listen, Learn, LEAD!!! 

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  2. Plans may be worthless when rubber hits the road, but still have a plan! So work the plans for EHS implementation through legal compliance, Risk Assessment, inputs feedback from opinion makers that set the objectives and targets. The business situation may change in these uncertain economic, social times thus potential rendering plans null & void or useless ! But having a plan can help steer EHS performance through rough/troubled times with suitable tweaking or rewriting a plan. Remember, altering a plan is not a sign of failure but aligning to new ground business realities. Having a plan aligned to business /EHS purpose helps organisation to weather out rough times as was case during Economic depression of 2008-2010. Companies that had better business /EHS Plan were able to recover quickly than others for business as usual.
  3. Keep doing your job, management is never sexy, as is in battle! EHS professionals need to realise that we are in to business of protecting (Wo)Men, Material, Machine, Mileu. The job is to do routine, non sexy things right only stupid people do the same mistake twice. Good management is all about doing things right, effectively. So just go about doing the job establishing process, program, procedures, protocol, protection. Better results will follow automatically. AAEAAQAAAAAAAANFAAAAJDhmM2U1MDAyLTBjOTAtNGRjNi1hN2EwLWY5MDc1NjE1MTEwOQ
  4. Treat people with Dignity, even in worst of war conditions the dead in battlefield are treated with dignity by enemies. So in civil life where death is not the price to pay in everything we do, it goes without saying that people who are your peers or people down the chain needs to be treated with dignity. Show respect to the person, to their views/opinion. No thought said is irrelevant, immaterial. Show active listening. Speak to them rather than speak at them. EHS professionals cant be at every place of operations to know the hidden issues, so interacting with people in a dignified way goes a long way to pull in information. 

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  5. Ordinary people matter:- As seen in many war events, it is an ordinary people who are nameless, faceless who provide vital support and momentum to army in its march. EHS professionals in their work to keep incidents at bay as well as implement loss prevention strategy needs inputs from countless ordinary people who carry out routine tasks. These ordinary people have their ear to the ground to predict events based on a pattern that may not be even in grasp of seasoned managers/ leaders. Keep up relationship power to get information from ordinary people by being visible at work front.

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  6. Survival is an art and science, learn and master it! As in war no victory is worth if one pays the ultimate sacrifice of laying his life! War is all about taking other’s lives! In EHS, folks need to be very clear that danger is out there and it is truth. So work a survival plans in terms of  technical capability, network connect with fellow professionals, ample trust credits to ask for favours, Be good to people with “ARK” (Act of Random Kindness) it all adds up and matters when chips are down…… 
  7. You will always live to fight another day & Pick your battle carefully. Some times as in war you may be beleaguered by defeats and death around! It may look a hopeless cause, sometimes survival itself bring accolades as was case in Dunkirk. Also in Saving private Ryan it is all about survival and cut your loses. EHS professionals may face such road blocks in terms of poor leadership, lack of plans, poor execution of EHS concepts. It may appear that folks are getting no where! Never give up! Be the last man standing. All it takes one flash of event to change things! more so in these days of changes that occur in rapid pace. Pick up your efforts with tools like Risk Assessment, Process management, Training, Communication, Engineering excellence to address EHS issues. It makes huge difference to know beforehand. A wise EHS professional succeeds by strength of the things he can do,knowledge of things she can’t do and is wise enough to the difference between the two. images (1)

Take it easy, take care, stay safe, God Bless!

Karthik

12/8/17 1515 Hrs

Bangalore. 

 

 

 

Occupational Hazard exposure!! Dad!!!

Over the last 6-8 weeks, I am kind of busy with a consulting assignments which is taking me away from Bangalore almost 20-25 days away including travel time!! So my blog post would be erratic!! Please pardon me over next few months! 

However, what is occupying mind in my free time is the Cancer that has recurred and fast spread of Secondaries on Dad over the past 4 weeks. He was operated for removal of left Kidney in 2015 ( Dad is now 80) having diagnosed with Renal Carcinoma. Dad, a Ph.D,worked as a Scientist,carrying out his research on Electrochemistry and specialisation in Anti Corrosion treatment with corrosion inhibhitors. The patents and research papers he published, involved quiet a lot of handling and exposure of Amines and its derivatives in his tenure between 1961-1999! My assumption is that lack of data on health hazard then as well as inadequate Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) besides non standard field condition of exposure like bridge construction etc would have been the ideal scenario of exposure to cause harm. The chronic effort after 15+ years of retirement goes to show how latent these substances reside in body and attacks when body resistance starts to weaken.

What is sad is few of dad’s colleagues have passed away due to cancer at various organs (Tongue, Lung, Bone, Throat)! I wonder whether we could have done anything when alarm went off say a decade back when the news of death started coming in!! I guess not?? 

This goes to show how to be more protective about one’s health on exposure to chemical substances. Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Medicine plays a key part to provide a safe working place. I am glad, over the last 10+ years the work place analysis, technology for sampling, Sophisticated instruments to detect even low concentration  of contaminants as well as technology to provide a clean workplace with local exhausts, personal protective equipment as well as substitution of chemicals have been in place. I wish organisations, who really value employee’s health and well-being, take every effort to implement such measures of providing proactive clean work space. It is their obligation and no effort is considered less in fulfilling these requirements.

I am now doing every effort to make his end game painless and peaceful, (Doctors have ruled out chemotherapy as he is too fragile,more so secondaries are tough to predict as to where it shall spread) !! Irony is that as I was telling my wife this morning over phone call, I am in midst of a very tight business engagement which is keeping me away from attending to him physically at my home town, Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu, after all these years of me being busy, just 8-10 days of assignments, the very idea of me switching to consultancy in 2012, to spend quality time with family, thus escaping the wretched corporate life of 27 years!! 

Man Proposes, God Disposes!

Take care, Stay Safe.
Regards

Karthik

6th Aug 2017, 1020am, Hyderabad Rural. 

Update 17th AUG 1900 Hrs:- Father passed away, 15th AUG 2017, 1930 Hrs at my Hometown, Karaikudi, TN. The end was swift, painless with dear and near around him. 

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My 1500 days as EHS Consultant!

I quickly checked to see how many days I have supported organisations/clients as EHS consultant, I was surprised that it is now close to 5 years,crossing 1500 days. I thought it would be a good landmark to post my thoughts on what I have observed. These are my personal observations. Feel free to comment. 

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What is Going well:-

  1. EHS professional numbers engaged at support systems are in the range of 3000-3500 with 70% qualified from RLI/CLI etc. Overseas qualification degree is also on the rise. So custodians of EHS seems to be in order.
  2. EHS extended to areas like Facility, Ergonomics, Wellness, Process Safety, Sustainability and are striving for optimisation across many industries.
  3. Women participation in to EHS is also on increase, especially more Chemical Engineers at Chem-MFG, still hardly a blip in radar and long way to go in manufacturing.
  4. MNCs are showing active interest in merger and take over, so Indian companies need to move the needle to meet threshold during due diligence as well as meeting requirements for contract manufacturing/loan licensing etc.
  5. Support systems for PPE, Engineering norms ( Elevated work, platforms, IH monitoring has leapfrogged) is no longer an issue, everything available within India, only will and desire required to execute. Non availability is no longer an excuse.
  6. Web support, Portals, Software, Apps are available from both global players as well as local Indian software Tech companies to work your way through. 
  7. Most of organisations, EHS is seen as a value proposition, EHS Executive is part of site leadership team and has direct reporting to the occupier/manager under factories rules of the site thus able to provide direct feedback.
  8. EHS committee,Emergency plans and aides have matured to tackle emergency well. 

What needs to Improve or has some way to go:- 

  1. EHS professional aspect are still in stages compliance mode (Reactive, calculative at most) , 80-90% entities see EHS as only a tool for compliance. Not going beyond that! They see no value add for that has not been projected to the business leaders. 1d4162e3-1dd4-4e52-97f4-f98753b6ef9f.png
  2. CSP,NEBOSH credentials wont solve local ESH problems. Interaction, engagement only does!! One of the myth I see in Indian context is that the overseas degree, qualifications can resolve issues faster, better. I have seen no such evidence either during my corporate days or over last 5 years. EHS excellence journey is all about understanding issues on hand and solving them through action planning, execution on time on budget.
  3. Risk Assessment is foundation to address EHS issues at site more so to business with new ISO 9001 in place for business risks. Unfortunately, many organisations the concept of Hazard identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) doesnt go deep! Linkage to standards on Risk viz ISO 31000 as tool for carrying out Risk mitigation measures seems to be missing. Also organisations lack a Hazard prompt list to work on them to identify risks. 
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    Process Risk Analysis (PRORA) in Chemical manufacturing is very poor or non existent even in so called best in business operations. HAZOP, FEMA, What IF are not fully understood /executed. HAZARD Matrix of chemical compatability is not developed. Reaction chemistry, dynamics have long way to go. Indsutrial accidents due Chemical plant fire, run away reactions appear very high. The support system that exists seem to be non existent as companies see legal compliance as norm to work which PRA is not a part of Indian legal compliance system. 

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  5. Workplace health hazards not clearly identified, chemical exposure, occupational health monitoring, not linked well. Chemical hygiene plans, expsoure assessment, inventory are in primitive stage. Even compliance to Indian legal requirements on PEL as per schedule of factories act not seen to be fully met. The IH & OM support needs to be available a plenty to serve this need. This could be a major issue in MNC when they look for compliance during due diligence. 

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  6. EHS professionals need to show empathy, connected to folks as well as as be available as a resouce to site members, leadership. Diplomatic and political correctness would carry EHS folks nowhere! EHS is a staff function available to serve the need of line management. That need to be well understood. 

I look to comments.
Regards

Karthik.

16/7/17 0810pm. 

Free wheeling thoughts on EHS!

  1. Phil once again has posted valid thoughts in his blog on copying /plagiarizing is stealing even for safety. I fully agree with Phil. Copying without giving due credit to sources or listing them in a references amounts to stealing. While I agree, our copyright laws here are practically non-existent and documents get shared at will. My rule of work is to if you can trace the source, quote it and give it a mention. Never try to steal credit of other people’s work as your own. You would be caught out….. 
  2. It was immense relief to read that Trump administration has after all decided to allocate budget funds for Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and let it continue its good work. CSB has been instrumental in investigating many classic chemical accidents and disasters of Dupont, bp, West etc and lessons learnt have a gone a long way to make the work place a lot safer.1200px-US-ChemicalSafetyBoard-Seal.svg
  3. The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has decided to rechristened itself as American Society of Safety Professionals. (ASSP). 
  4. In my last post on Piper Alpha for want of time, I couldnt cover the Wolves- Sheep context! I am very sure that we all have such situation where people who pretend to be sheep when they are Wolves! These people are more dangerous to work place. As you can see 64% are Wolves!! Of course, Wolves are go getter who take risks be it intelligent or stupid!!! Courtesy:- Patrick Hudson presentation. So be ready to tackle wolves with systems, process, procedures, programs as hardware and people relationship skill as the software! Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 3.42.26 PM

Take it easy,take care

Regards

Karthik.

15/7/17 1620 Hrs. 

 

Remembering PIPER ALPHA !! 30 yrs on!!

Personal update:- I am tied up with a client engagement, which may take me off from Bangalore for most of the time in coming weeks. I would try to grab time and post my HSE thoughts during my travel as I do now. I have taken up this assignment which is very similar to what I did 25 years back as a site safety officer to guide, coach and work with folks who are newly thrown in to MNC work culture environment. This is also a kind of pay back from my side to the parent company to which I was associated.

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This week, the night of 6th-7th July, marks the beginning of the 30th year of PIPER ALPHA disaster which took lives of 167 employees. Some mortal remains were never found. I still vividly remember the day when news flashed on BBC Radio ( there was No TV then)! 

30 years on, I wonder has the industry learnt its lesson? May be may be not?“The purpose of doing this Video, is to remind people that Piper Alpha isn’t just history and we still have to guard against complacency. The same hazards and the same challenges that existed back then still exist today and how we manage them – through strong leadership and engaging the workforce in safety – is crucial in preventing a repeat of that tragedy.”

Ed Punchard’s book, Piper Alpha — A Survivor’s Story, was published by Star Books in 1989 and Lord Cullen’s report, The Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha Disaster, by HMSO in 1990. Lord Cullen’s key recommendations

  • New legislation requiring safety cases
  • Goal-setting legislation
  • A single regulator
  • Offshore safety reps and safety committees
  • Revision of permits to work
  • Process control
  • Mandatory incident reporting
  • Hydrocarbon inventory
  • Fire and gas detection and emergency shutdown
  • Fire and explosion protection
  • Emergency centres and system
  • Pipeline emergency procedures
  • Evacuation, escape and rescue plans and equipment
  • Standby vessels
  • Command in emergencies
  • Regular drills
  • Emergency training

The recent Grenfel tower fire may be similar to Piper Alpha tragedy as this article explains makes you wonder any lessons learnt and applied across industries!! 

We can not afford another PIPER ALPHA anywhere in the world!! I Hope so!

Take care, God bless.

Karthik

9th July 2017

2020 Hrs.