“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. 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

OSH India, Madras —> They Came, Saw & Conquered!!!

I was at Madras, (It is always Madras, never Chennai for me)  Friday, to attend the OSH India exhibition cum Technical session. I had originally planned to attend event both the days but due to personal committment that came in the 11th hour, I made it only one day.

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Bottom Line Upfront:- An Awesome event, well organised and  took up issues that are very apt relevant to emerging nation like India. The exhibition on Safety, Security were very relevant. (I would assume about 10,000 Sq Ft space) My guesstimate is about 6000 Footfalls of folks from Madras. The technical session were attended by about 70 professional and delegates. 

OSH Chennai Conference Agenda -2017 June 27 (1)

Day 1

  • Session -1: Adoption Of Industrial Best Practices To Achieve World Class Safety 
  • Session – 2: Accident and Incident Investigation
  • Sponsor Session: 1 Understanding Culture & Behaviour
  • Sponsor Session :2 Importance of Leadership

Day 2

  • Creating Psychologically Healthy Workplaces ( I chaired session & summed up)
  • Workplace Ergonomics
  • Women and OSH –A Holistic Approach
  • Safety Issues in Construction Industry (Panel Discussion I was a member)
  • Sponsor Session: 3 Engaging with the Workforce
  • Sponsor Session: 4 Getting the Message across Differently

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The administration and logistics were handled superbly with close coordination and followup. The venue arrangements were top notch professional.The Exhibhition stalls covered PPEs, Training Aides, Security aspects as well as Fall protection, confined space aspects besides Signage Aide, Labelling etc. My estimate was there were about 60 stalls around covering various EHS aspects including security. The exhibition had a very good footfall with my guesstimate is about 6000 visitors. 

The technical sessions by various Indian and international experts, covered safety and security who covered practical aspects of issues that threatens safe and productive workplace. The Female participation in safety was an eye opener as well as issues faced by 35 Million female workers in unorganised sector. 

The summary of Mental wellness and health session:- I moderated session and notes from Evernote which I worked as I was listening as Chair.

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Construction Safety:- ( I was Panel Member) 

  1. Mobile elevated work platform key to work Elevated work, presently 4000 such devices in India vs 1.2 Million in USA. It saves time, more safe. 
  2. Skill shortage key to develop program on elevated mobile platform.
  3. Risk Assessment is key to any elevated work and mitigation measures vital.
  4. In a developing economy like India, as country grows, such devices have a very positive impact to enhance safety.
  5. Leadership acceptance is key as is culture of safety. India needs customisation and value add specific.

Ms.Padma Ramakrishnan, who coordinated  the organisation for event with her team has done a superb job. Thanks to her for reaching out to me when I suggested that I can give my 2 cents. I am glad that similar event is planned in Bombay in November and Hyderabad in Mid 2018.  The event also gave me chance to meet some of personnel in EHS field after good many years as well to meet distinguished International EHS experts. 

Final Disclosure:- As with any conference these days, I made this trip out of my own expense and this post is out of appreciation and reach out to EHS Folks to let know the happening. 

Karthik

2nd July 2017, Sunday.

0900 Hrs. 

Only “007” Lives Twice- Rest only Once!!

I am hearing about spate of Industrial incidents, Bush Fires across Europe, 120F in USA and it is not even July Independence day week!! Also on personal side I am saddened by Suicides in community, depression at work etc, marital discords etc.  We get only one chance to live, unlike James BOND 007 who only gets to live twice… So what can we do to make life go a little better??

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I was amazed to read this post this morning, which triggered me to write this post! A building in United Kingdom/ Great Britain, with 1000 Fire door missing or can’t shut properly in case of building fire! If this is the case in developed world where compliance expectations/ penalties are the highest! What is hope for compliance or conformance in these tough times, economic uncertainty in III World region where everything as for as working for compliance is seen with Contempt?? I don’t want to be a doomsday predictor or writing post for fault-finding? My post below is to see such situation in a positive aspect as to what can be learned and how things can be improved in a proactive mode. of course, I assume the management, team, leadership at work as well as people dear and near to you are looking for you to succeed with good relations. (Else meaningless to even attempt anything) 

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EHS Folks and support team with leadership can work a safe work place in whichever area as follows:-

WORK PLACE:-

  1. Develop a sense of Risk perception for every situation around you. For this to happen all it it takes is 5 seconds, Deep Breath in Breath out, to see a Look around as to what could go wrong and how you can mitigate the hazard and risk associated with the activity you do! What is way out? These 5 seconds play task in your mind can be difference between success and failure, or escape or trap. Human mind can react faster if the pre wire has happened to recall response faster!! People generally become complacent and underestimate risk and the associated hazards. The reason could be as follows.
    1. Lack of Hazard recognition, rare at professional setting but can happen.
    2. Disagreement on best safe practices, who is right, who adds value? 
    3. You do it daily that it becomes second nature that response is slow in an adverse situation
    4. Peer pressure, lack of better planning thus taking an easy unsafe way to work things. (Short cuts, cuts shorts life!)
    5. As you get in to habit, the unavoidable feeling of sense of mastery creeps in thus making a person go in to overconfidence/complacency mode.
    6. Sense of risk perception starts becoming less, due to personality, heroics. 
  2. Always learn from other’s experiences that is happening in and around Industries of similar type or situations.  In the days of global outreach, nothing stays invisible, hidden, Knock it shall open, seek you shall find, Ask you will be given. ON TO YOU! It is always cheaper, wiser to learn from environment around you. Always look for what is the worst that can happen in the situation I am in, how can I rescue myself out of such situation. Knock and the door will be opened
  3. Start measuring things at workplace. Think big but start with small significant impact initiatives that can capture as metric. Work a metric to measure performance, however impractical it may look at the beginning, work on it to improve to make it practicable. Proxy metrics can even be used at initial stages. The saying” What gets measured, Gets done” is apt. Be realistic, Under promise over deliver on these metrics. Aspects like Incidents, actions taken, Audit closures, Compliance, Energy, waste etc etc could be metrics that can be tracked to work a dashboard approach.
  4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!! Nothing is over communicate!! It would be great if communication is adapted to what people want rather than what you want to sell! 
  5. Budgets and planning:- Without money nothing happens, even army moves on its stomach, so work the budgets based on ZERO based budgeting. Plan for significant risk and mitigations from social, political, economical, technical standpoint. I have covered these in detail in my blog posts.
  6. As you mature in your process for EHS excellence, try to work linkage to operational excellence and standardize the way things are got done. One company, one data, one process, one way to do, one report, no matter who does! Standardization leads to predictability, thus eliminating uncertainty the many trigger point for adverse events.

Personal Side:-

  1. Be Eternal optimist, try to see everything even in adverse situation as Half Full rather than half empty!
  2. Manage your Energy, (Mental, Physical, Emotional, Spiritual) not time.
  3. Develop habits of getting things done! (Try to work lists  that is a Must, Shall, Should)
  4. If you love somebody, set them free, If it is your’s,it will come back, if it doesn’t, it never was!!
  5. Sleep makes wonder, Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep, come what may! Anything said done to deny is lame excuse. 
  6. Try to get up before Sunset, brings immense energy and you can get quite a lot done when others are stretching themselves in bed.
  7. Show Empathy to people, Try to see their point of view thro Self and social awareness besides relationship management.
  8. Be Kind to people, not even our 5 fingers in the hand are alike!! ARK–>Acts of Random kindness, (See my blog post)
  9. Family comes first FIRST ALWAYS FIRST!!! Whatever we do is for them, anything done outside this purview, is misplaced priorities. 
  10. Never compare !! You are unique gift given by creator!! Enjoy it!!! 

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Take it easy, take care, stay safe, GOD BLESS
Karthik.

27/6/17

1915hrs