My 10, A-HA moments !!! EHS 1985-2017!


(This will be my last post I would share with folks on  their personal devices) Pl feel free to subscribe to this blog in to your email Inbox. Information received from a “PULL” works better utilised than pushed! My unshakable belief 30 years!!! 

Not about the pop Music group from Norway!! What musician from Norway singing in English ? U kidding?? Boy!! Didnt they take world by storm!!  

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As a 50th Blog post, I thought I would work it a bit professional personal  and share my 10 A-HA Moments in my EHS Career that kind of stuns you at the moment when we decided to take it bang on. I am very lucky that I could get that Epiphany having engaged in world-class organisation practicing the best EHS practices and leaders who expected nothing but top-notch performance from their team. One need to remember these were times in 80s and 90s where there was No Internet, No Telephone! Everything is word of mouth or print or passed down to you at someone’s will or pleasure!!!

  1. Hazard Catalogue and Risk 1992:- (7 years before world knew OHSAS 18001!) I was going through old documents having joined as SEO (Safety & Environmental officer) when I stumbled on Zurich Insurance Hazard Catalogue and Risk Mitigation plan. While I was aware of Hazard from the days of passing out Industrial Safety course 1989. The Risk Reduction catalogue and with detailed dive in on Hazards thus linking to Probability  and Severity was something eye-opening. We could even establish a Site Risk portfolio for Normal operations as well as emergency events in terms of Risk. ( ISO 31000 Equivalent) It is another matter that 15 years down the line, we extended our Risk portfolio spectrum to cover Risk as Product of 1) Probability 2) Severity 3) Frequency 4) % People affected in events 5) Legal requirements gradation from local to federal in decreasing order. This helps to allocate your funding in a RIFLE approach of Bulls eye.

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  2. Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE) :- When handling Hydrogen, Ethylene Oxide etc while working the project design,we came across the term (Static electricity My memory serves me right, 1987, when working the synthesis plant) so the need for copper jumpers lead to finding the term” MINIMUM Ignition Energy! 

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  3. Dow and Mond index!!! If there is one aspect in process safety that really took my breath away then it must be “DOW and MOND Index” to calculate process safety hazards beforehand at design stage to get a classic idea as to what are disasters/catastrophe expected in terms of both fire /explosion as well as Toxic chemicals. It is still etched in my memory 20++ years later, where I read the document on this first time in 1995 (see below)! Dow mond index


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4.Fire Water Retention Basin:–  The November 1986 Schweizherhalle fire was an eye opener. The fire at Sandoz Chemicals Warehouse at Mutenz( I visited the spot 8 years later 1994 caused the fire water used to douse flame ran in to River Rhine which flows from Switzerland across Germany in to Netherlands. The contaminated fire water killed millions of species of Fish and other aquatics. As an Engineering remedial measure of lessons learned, every chemical warehouse would be designed and connected with a fire water retention basin ( as per Safety guideline #28) with the  quantity equivalent to 6 hours of fire fighting (roughly 2200 M3) being retained and tested before letting out. 

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5. GL 28 Warehousing. As indicated above, the material classifications are done on basis of Rating 1 to 10. 1 Being Highly explosive, 2 Reactive chemicals, 3 Water explosive, 5 peroxides, 6 Solvents  to 10 being water based solvent based on fire and toxic rating. The material category are to be stored only as one category in one fire compartment and no mixup is allowed. Each category is separated from other class of storage by fire resistant walls, fittings, Doors. There shall also be provisions for Smoke detectors, gas Detectors as applicable! (Fire water retention a must) the facility should have 6 hours of water to fight fire at average flow of 300 M3/hr pumps. Additional Sprinklers shall be determined based on Risk Assessment. The inventory is to be updated every week on a global data base (1993!!). 

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6. W5, MAK!!! The Chemical substances that have potential carcinogenic health hazard (Suspected not yet proven with a reliable data) were classified as W5 (Warning Guideline #5) and labelled accordingly. The substance use for manufacturing  are very restricted or done under strict Engineering control and Industrial Hygiene monitoring as operation control measure. PPE usage for respiratory protection and contact prevention were enforced closely with supervisors taking ownership for protection of workmen. MAK =(Maximale Arbeitsplatz-Konzentration) The MAK value is the maximum permissible concentration of a substance as a gas, vapour or aerosol in the air at the workplace which, according to current knowledge, does not normally affect worker health or cause unreasonable nuisance even with repeated and long-term exposure, usually 8 hours a day, but assuming an average weekly working time of 40 hours. Strict Industrial hygiene measures are put in place so that values of exposure do not exceed the threshold. 

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7. ISO 9001-1987. The first standard to Management systems, which helped to bring as a pioneer to structured approach of Plan-Do-Check-Act. We embraced it with glee for implementation in 1993! This brought lot of discipline in to work. Life became a lot easy with this approach to execute EHS in this integrated approach even back in 1990s. The standards for 14001 and 18001 were derived from this years later…….

The 20 Elements of ISO 9000-1987 

  • Management Responsibility
  • Quality System
  • Contract Review
  • Design Control
  • Document and Data Control
  • Purchasing
  • Control of Customer Supplied Product
  • Product Availability and Traceability
  • Process Control
  • Inspection and Testing
  • Control of Inspection, Measuring and Test Equipment
  • Inspection and Test Status
  • Control of Nonconforming Product
  • Corrective and Preventive Action
  • Handling, Storage, Packaging, Preservation and Delivery
  • Control of Quality Records
  • Internal Quality Audits
  • Training
  • Servicing
  • Statistical Techniquesiso-90012008-in-school-9-638

8. Balanced Score Card:-  (BSC) EHS, In order to move from reactive Accident metric to a proactive metric that covers all spectrum of EHS, a Balance Score Card is a good leading indicator. This covers, Incidents, near-miss, First Aid incident all investigated, Safety audits/inspections, Corrective action closed on time, Energy, Waste all aspects go in to the metric. The BSC then classified as Red, Yellow, Green based on % number that is above or below threshold acceptance for drill down. We could work this in 2006!!

9. Vulnerability Analysis:– Post 9/11, this became watchword to check, correct and monitor the exposure of facilities to threats, exposure, interruption to business/facility operation. How to identify such threats, work mitigation as well as recovery plans, recovery time, components desired to be recovered. 

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10. Zero Fatality Program:- Last but not least nothing comes ahead of keeping people safe. So the ZERO Fatality program which emphasises to keep people safe with Infrastructure, Support systems, Procedures, Protocols, Training & coaching, Safe work as conditions of employment are established. The programs that should be foolproof for effective implementation so as to keep people safe are

  1. LOTO
  2. Electrical Safety
  3. Confined Space Entry
  4. Fall Protection
  5. Machine Guarding
  6. Vehicle Safety. 

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    I am glad that we could do so much, learned so much and grew with Safety as it evolved. As I keep saying, we couldn’t have done without our functional, business leaders who gave us all the resources, learning opportunity besides being there to guide and coach.

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


10/6/17 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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