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.

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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

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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.

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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??

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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) 

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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!!! 

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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!!

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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!!
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. 

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

#50!!

(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

Karthik.

10/6/17 1530 hrs. 

 

Hitler’s Rascals (HR) and Filthy Finance, No more Brothers-in-Arms!

#49

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Some time back, I was interacting for a potential assignment for a Global MNC Major, when the EHS director, out of bolt from blue, said to me that my credentials have to be vetted by HR! I grudgingly agreed to the process, fortunately it was nothing more than hello/Hi just to be sure that I was not a friend or known to EHS guy for ages !!! That gave me a thought on writing a post today on HR and Finance the two functions which has supported me immensely in the first Fifteen years of my career (1985-2000) such that the HR and Finance folks were like Brothers-in-arms. However, over the last decade or so, like Churchill rightly predicted of Indians and its leaders (Wonder why he missed Indian INC) and how Indian shit would hit the fan these two functions have got rotten for whatever reasons !! churchill

90% of Human Resources function is very Bad HR which is ugly and horror film with existing protocols to meet their needs and no value add to business. Finance again 95% has become Junk with powers given by management to cut costs without rhyme or reason and stupid legal aspects like Dodd Frank Act, Sorbonne Oxley etc etc have only added Petrol to the raging fire in the name of compliance. Common sense in entities has gone out of window! ( It is another matter that all the financial laws in the developed world would have been read up to last full stop and comprehended only by 1) Chinese Govt to find loop holes to exploit 2) The Economist magazine team to write an essay)  I can’t thank my stars enough that I got out the rut and shit a good five years back. I can’t help wonder how the next generation would manage the stench and filth that is out there in these two functions and even deliver outputs to be productive and meaningful. The good news is the shit is of same stench is across the world, so be it a developing world or Developed world the rogue elements in these two decaying Functions are out to screw everything that stands for Employee involvement, engagement, motivation, Autonomy, Mastery, purpose that nurtures organisation. ( I am sure there other elements too, but I am not going there now for this post)

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So what folks can do work when your Brothers-in-arms have become Jack Shit and you need to get things done!

  1. Develop relationship, I have written tons on this, Relationship power alone delivers 70% of results. Keep connected to people, get to know people. Develop a personal chemistry with folks, even in the Evil HR and Fouled up finance, there will be folks who are doing what they are doing due to business pressure or organisation culture. They always know a solution and way out to any issues to your advantage after all it is not personal. It all boils down to relations and give and take. Nothing works like personal chemistry, relations and being there for folks at work place and beyond work place. 

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  2.  Plan Plan Plan:- The best results in adverse work environment are done with a great planning. Lincoln sums up aptly. Work on what can work well, what would go wrong, what are alternate options, what is in it for all stakeholders. What alternate way to reach the goal should there be one. Work the attention to details, that is very essential. Many EHS folks miss this out and struggle when probed a bit deep thus whole plan losing credibility. 

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  3. Document, Document Bloody well document. Whatever you work on projects, people, programs, protocols, keep a work diary and document them with notes. While it may appear like COVER YOUR ASS (CYA) for addressing workplace issues, even Good HR would require documentation evidence for working actions when issues appear. This is very essential. 

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  4. Distinctly know the difference between Effectiveness and Efficiency!!  This goes a long way to deliver results come what may be the external environment around you! Peter Drucker uses the term”Effective Executive” not efficient executive. 

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  5. Develop financial Acumen, work the basics of costing, budgeting, the key financial terms. Work everything from Zero based budgeting. That way you would not be hoodwinked by bad financial folks who can get around bull shitting. These days any manager needs Integrated thinking to cover all aspects of business like Finance, Soft Sills, Marketing, sales, operations, productivity at a basic level to add value to their work. A good business management degree may go some way. (Thank god I did one to kill flying time) I am still thankful for skills I picked up for justifying my Million $ SHE (That is how my chairman named the dept!!!)  budgets to my chairman for his annual approval good 2 decades back using Zero based budgetting.  Remember to look at variance, that is a killer! Any effective process gets hindered if variance creeps in. 

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   6) Pre wire, Pre wire, Pre wire:- Despite getting everything right, there would be always folks who wont see things the way you see. So work a meeting/discussions in an informal set up and we call this the pre wire. Agree to the common minimum ground and work a consensus so that when the final meetings happen things go smooth sail. Remember it all boils to relationship and networking to reach out as well as TRUST. Remember to get results delivered you need to follow up! 

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I can list on and on but I guess EHS folks get the essence, in short, great managers deliver results day in day out in spite of Bad Hitlers Rascals (HR) and Fouled Financial filth as hindrances. They take such adverse situations as a challenge to relish and deliver stellar results, rather than go timid and blame or use excuse to justify failures. Remember, no one knows your job better than you in your area of work/domain expertise and let your results speak for itself.  Don’t let others intrude and dont give an inch ? Would you allow them in to your bedroom to teach you F***ing skills ???? As simple as that!!!! Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 4.17.01 PM

Good Luck and God bless

Karthik

8/6/17, 1630 Hrs. 

Have a change of scene!!

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

have-a-change-of-scene

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

Regards

Karthik.

6/6/17 1530 Hrs.