Have a change of scene!!

Not the awesome, page turning James Hadley Chase Thriller of 1970s!! 


During the EHS audit of my facility in 1990s, the corporate overseas ESH auditors in their recommendation drafted 1) Drug testing 2) Alcohol testing of all employees as a parent company policy and practices to be followed at site! As a site HSE leader (A smart Rookie then) being the auditee, I had put my foot down for the recommendation saying that such tests are impractical, impossible to get done and questions the basic trust and faith that organisation affirms in their employees besides the tests intrudes in to the Indian cultural values! I was very clear that recommendation is not going in! The auditor gentlemen, ( Three of the European nationals) who are unlike argumentative Indians, (That is a notorious tag!) saw reason and withdrew the recommendation from the audit findings!! It is another matter that six months down the line, when I landed in that country,  the corporate Medical head recommended that I undergo a test for then newly discovered menace called  HIV/AIDS, saying it is a mandatory protocol, which I readily agreed!! 

Today the work place Scene has undergone a sea of change. The work place today has hidden and unseen issues in the areas as follows which if not managed well can throw nasty surprises leading to business interruption in the worst case scenario.  These are:-

  1. Alcohol  & related issues
  2. Drugs both Illegal and prescription overuse
  3. Depression and mental problem, psychological issues
  4. Anger, Frustration, Rage
  5. Stress
  6. Hunger leading to outrage /Incidents (Trust me!!) 
  7. Sexual Harassment
  8. Bullying, Work place violence
  9. Diabetics/Low Sugar etc
  10. Overtime, Fatigue!!  

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The list above is not exhaustive and clearly they not only pose HSE performance issues leading to Injuries, Illness and even fatalities. (as happened last night in Florida when an ex employee, walked in to the factory site and shot dead 5 of his colleagues)!  The above work place related employee conditions  as well can significantly affect productivity, employee morale and general work place Hygiene. Unlike USA, Gun related issues are very least likely in our part of the world thanks to different kind of regulations. However EHS folks need to tune themselves to the listed issues above and work a plan to manage them in consultation with leadership, Administration and other interested parties.

So what can be done to improve the workplace from these issues, it is better to be forewarned and be in a proactive mode to set policy, program, procedures, counselling, support and preventive measures as a part of employee wellness would go some way. If you think these issues listed above are never going to be here in India, God Bless you and ride your luck! Read these below of incidents that happened in our part of world.

  1. HR Manager Killed 
  2. Prescription Drug abuse 
  3. Dangerous Drug Rave Parties 
  4. Drug testing the fear in IT Industry  
  5. Stress  #1 risk to Indian Employees 

 I can list on and on, I hope EHS folks get the message. Issues which are alien ( I like the word) to us a couple of decades back are now a common place in this globalised borderless world where information, style, practices flow thick and fast. So it is essential that organisations are ready for the same. Needless to say, each facility/site/location would have its unique challenges to identify issues, work corrective action and implement recommendation. 

The generic overview for such programs:- 

  1. Look for tell tale symptoms:- Employee feedback program, EHS Perception survey, Safety Satisfaction survey, Company Culture/climate overview/survey can lead to potential opportunities if the threshold scores are not met. It is indeed possible there are lone wolf who would never be caught, but highlighting issues at workplace will make folks look for potential person who goes astray.
  2. Work a site Team or steering committee to address issues if survey output indicates a situation. Leaders from key functions such as HR, Admin, Legal, EHS should be part of the team working the way forward. The team need to:-
    1. Focus on issue with a practical/workable/doable solution as an end.
    2. Focused on real issue with evidence rather than perception, loose talk (Cry Wolf)
    3. Open, Honest, Transparent discussions with acknowledging the issue (if one stares at you) and seek expert help in addressing and solving the issue in a way acceptable to all concerned.
    4. Keep always the success of affected person in mind to resolve issues.
  3. Leadership team and other senior members need to ask themselves these 20 questions before set out to work the program implementation. 
  4. Once issues identified, parameters set to correct for support systems to improve employee psychological health, morale, the team should work towards making it a success by working specific, measurable, timely, result oriented tasks. If some tasks can’t be specifically measured, work proxy metrics to begin with.
  5. Improve Hygiene factors at work. Hygiene factors are such that they are not visible when present, but distinctly effects in a negative way the work performance in their absence. 

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  6. I wanted to trigger thought process in to folks to beyond routine EHS issues like known hazards like Electrical, Mechanical, chemical etc, forgetting the human psychological and well-being element! obviously one post can’t solve provide solutions all problems. (Nor providing solution is the aim)  I would touch this topic in detail in later posts. 

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I look to your comments, thoughts, ideas.

Take care, stay safe. God bless



6/6/17 1530 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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