Act of God? Is it? Be an Atheist at WORK!

I wake up this morning to hear a Fox news summary podcast (every hour, 24*7) of a boiler explosion in St.Louis, MO which killed 3 and serious injury to 4. Such incidents happen whichever part of the world leaves you a bit demoralised for a while! I also read  John Newquist FB post on this at 530am! It appears that an exploded boiler piece flew 500 Feet and landed on roof adjacent building killed 2 persons there! It also appears that this incident affected few folks who were on their first day on job (Monday 8am filing papers)!!

Such incidents, an Act of God, as we call it can happen to any entity! I recollect with Horror a Major accident 30 years back in an upcoming Paint Intermediate Manufacturing facility at project stage at Ankleshwar, which killed 5(?) people including to be married soon Engineer.Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 9.09.14 AM It was due to a pin hole through which steam seeped in and causing explosion of the RM storage tank which was getting heated. The global project contractor has installed Ten such installations all over the world, until then, without even a PIN PRICK to an employee! 

Act of God or not, there is a legal obligation for statutory authorities now to investigate incidents and put corrective actions in place. There would be some consequences for the affected entities with fine, penalties as well as possible case for man slaughter. Ofcourse, the positive side is great companies would learn from even the Act of God incidents to put in programs in place to prevent recurrence. I recollect our efforts to put in a Lightning Protection program to field employees when one of our colleague was killed while working in open, stuck by Lightning in Latin America dozen of years back. This included prevention, protection, forewarned aspects covering preventive, reactive, proactive measures. Thankfully, over next 15+ years not one life was lost despite increase in exposure.

So such incidents would continue to happen, court summons would come, exposure to image, liability, public outrage/sympathy would be the norm. So what can ESH folks do from their perspective to protect the first and foremost responsibility, which is to protect companies interest at all costs and add to bottom line? (Nothing more, nothing less, Safety First, is all an EMPTY SLOGAN, thankfully I never believed one minute even 30 years back, may be the Gujju water I drank, in me !!) 

  1. Comply with Legal Requirements !! Cross the “T”, Dot the “i” make sure that requirements are up to date. Tests, inspections, calibration, monitoring are not passed over due for any items. The scrutiny of such government agencies investigation can go back years. (As was case when records were searched as far as 28 years back) 
  2. Ensure that Risk assessment are done. It shouldnt come as a surprise shock and dismay to authorities that such act of god incident is thought off only after the accident. Learn from others and cover in risk assessment even such Black Swan scenarios! While you can’t do much to mitigate, when such happens, to be “Forewarned is ForeArmed” as saying goes! 
  3. Ensure Asset Integrity are all current. A good preventive maintenance program usually helps to prevent such accidents. (As saying goes, God also helps only those who help themselves so be an Atheist,never leave thing to God to help
  4. Carry out routine assessment, inspection, Audits of areas /facilities as a whole, with planned approach and tracking mechanism. Keep such documents up to date. Work out corrective actions as required without undue delay. Never leave smoking gun. Work deadlines that are practical, meaningful and doable.
  5. Work out training to all employees that are affected by area,actions, training and communication, helps to remove ignorance and creates awareness. Everything done to make people protection a key aspect helps to salvage some positive points in the eyes of Jury.
  6. Establish the dialogue process with employees through Safety committee(ESH Committee meetings) to bring in their concern, suggestion, opportunity for improvement. Work on such requests with priority, close the issues one way or the other ! This also helps morale at workplace and makes employee give positive feedback about company’s efforts in the eyes of investigator when company culture would come in scrutiny.
  7. Of course, Legal aspects are left to legal experts, take their guidance at every stage and work a plan. Never shoot yourself in the foot. I recollect a Senior executive, a good friend of mine of an Indian Pharma Major losing his coveted job when some uncontrolled documents in his possession (Kept folded in his work diary) lead to incriminating evidence against the company during the “FDA Inspection” meeting at conference room !!! Truth is stranger than fiction as I keep saying!! 

So such incidents of ACT OF GOD over which we have no control can happen and we can’t decide the outcome. (near-miss or Fatality based on luck, chance)! Best in class business work everything that would try to swing a positive opinion in the eyes of judiciary, public etc so that consequences to the business interest, reputation, damages are as minimal as possible through their actions. So be a WORK Atheist working only on logic, rationale, risk assessment and common sense in to play and never leave things to GOD!! ( I always say GOD= Good Only Deeds)!!! 

4/4/17. 0900 Hrs. 



Author: Karthik B; Orion Transcenders. Bangalore.

Lives in Bangalore. HESS Professional of 30+ yrs experience. Global Exposure in 4 continents of over 22 years in implementation of Health, Environment, Safety, Sustainability. First batch of Environmental Engineers from 1985 Batch. Qualified for implementing Lean, 6Sigma, HR best practices integrating them in to HESS as value add to business.

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