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. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 
  4. This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    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. 

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  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. 

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 8.21.37 AM

 

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??

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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) 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!!! 

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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

27/6/17

1915hrs 

 

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

Not the famous search phrase in Titanic rescue!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!!
Karthik

23/6/17 1700 Hrs. 

 

Towering Inferno!!! Truth stranger than FICTION!!!

#51

I almost used this topic name to write on the shitty affairs that plague EHS folks and EHS function! I used some other topic name after thinking it over, a few weeks back!!

How sad I have to use this topic name now( None would fit better) Nothing else describes the mayhem that happened on Granfel Tower UK than to describe through Steve McQueen, Paul Newman Thriller of Irwin Allen movie of 1970s which rocked the world! 

Fiction becomes Truth this week. Granfel Tower blaze when I watched looked exact replica except none were acting and human lives were lost!!

How things came to such a mess?? Investigations would reveal, at this stage we don’t know even total lives lost, looks like it could be in to 50s or so! Our heart goes out for all victims!!

Things that come out clear!!

  1. We need a global standard for fire safety on high-rise building. As more and more building come up due to high-speed elevators, we may touch the sky. Then what are  the rescue plans?? PLAN B?? 
  2. Building material can themselves cause havoc, as I tweeted Facade has become the Charade !!Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 8.23.27 PM
  3. Active safety implementation is the norm, gone are days of passive safety. Systems need to work and fail safe/ back up systems need to be in place.
  4. I keep saying and get in to lot of discussions (many times with European colleagues and European MNC folks here) that American norms go above and beyond! As in Granfel tower case, I am proved right. The material that was used are banned in USA!! How sad I am proved right again!! Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 8.20.43 PM

I hope like the Bhopal  tragedy, which made a determined world to bring PSM 1910.119 with collaboration with European and American agencies, the Granfel Tower could be the one to turn Fire safety norms, implementation, regulations on its head? Would the world take up the challenge!!? Hope so?

Take care, god bless
Karthik

17/6/17 2030 Hrs.