EHS? Is anybody out there?Can any one hear me?

Not the famous search phrase in Titanic rescue!!

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It was a wonderful opportunity for me to visit Madurai, the place where I did my graduation in 1980s this week for CII Safety Seminar for which I was invited as a speaker on Safety culture beyond compliance. (HINDU) It was a great interaction with statutory officials for me after good 17 years to have met any government personnel. The discussions with them was very useful and gave me lot insight. There are still some officials who want to do their best keeping themselves away from murky politics and corrupt practices that have plagued system. It is indeed heartening to meet such officials. 

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My main theme of talk was!!

  1. Focus on compliance, laws are made to facilitate EHS implementation.
  2. No Law is an impediment. They are set with purpose. Of course, there can be some conflicts in implementation in rare instances, work around it.
  3. Do not wait for government to work norms, go beyond compliance with saving lives, property as motto.
  4. Get competence, skills to manage EHS.
  5. Use Risk based approach; practice Hazard recognition and mitigation through hierarchy of controls. PPE always last resort.

There were close to 100 participants for the event. What stuck me most was (Of course these are my personal views and is in no way a criticism of event or participants calibre)…..

  1. In all the sessions, (4 of them with about 6 speakers) there was not a single Question from any of the participant for panel members to answer. The participants were about 30% EHS professional. I can’t help wonder what made them tongue-tied( The sessions were held in Tamil 50% of time and 90% speakers mother tongue is Tamil) if you do not ask a question, how would you learn?
  2. Most of programs in safety, as I interacted with folks during breaks as well as info shared were in primitive stage with posters, banners, safety day, recognition, Mirror as safety rep! Antecedents for safe behaviour are all evaporative effects, they never bring the desired results for maturity path to safety excellence.
  3. Even in matured organisations there were no information presented on safety perception survey, key points that came out as stumbling block to implementing safety, Safety as a value proportion, Leadership involvement, engagement to make safety as a business enabler. 
  4. System integration for maturity to EHS through ISO 14001, ISO 9001 with a risk based overview to business could be thought off, I didn’t find that in matured organisation presentation. ( Ofcourse, the standards are 2 years in to implementation, so may take time perhaps)
  5. What personally intrigued me was while we are on push for Make in INDIA, I can’t help wonder when presenter after presenter, reeled information from overseas agencies who had supported implementing the program! Is EHS implementation in India is at such a phase in 2017 AD, where you need overseas folks to let you know your EHS status?? Don’t think so? I cant help but wonder when we will get out of this colonial mentality! I recollect we using during 1990s, the CII -EMS team from New Delhi, to support EMS implementation fully knowing local resources needed for local customisation for an international standard!! I cant help wonder, that, at 40% costs locally, the excess funding could have been used for other EHS program betterment.
  6. Fire Safety perspective in Cracker industry both from manufacturing, assembly & storage, has long way to go and requires plenty of EHS support both from people safety as well as Process Safety standpoint. Again folks want to go for implementation for a better workplace, but don’t know where to turn to at a cost-effective way? The legislative support in the form of Explosive Rules 2008 is awesome, but no one knows how to go about it!! firecra
  7. Environment, Safety, IH, Occ Med, Sustainability are still seen as compartments in implementation with diverse functions handling them. Integrating them and working for synergy is the way to go, this has to happen sooner than later!!

Good Luck and God Bless!!

23/6/17 1700 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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