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The HSE Vision of an Organisation Must be Conveyed in a Manner that is Clearly Understood by Employees

We spoke to Ganapathi Srinivasan, HSE Head, Train n Save to further understand the pre-requisites for safety managers before conducting a workplace safety audit, key points that he would like to convey to employees as part of an Occupational Safety and Health Communication Program, steps to be taken to address non-compliance to safety norms among employees as well as a key moment in his career where he wished a safety incident had been handled differently.

  Interviewed by Adeesh Sharma

What are the pre-requisites for safety managers before they conduct a workplace safety audit?

The safety audit is an important study of the safety management system .It provides the safety manager an opportunity to understand which areas the system is working well and the area where development is possible.

The prerequisites for a safety manager before conducting a safety audit are:

1. Ensure that he has a complete understanding of the safety management system of the organization.

2. Should be able to conduct a document review with a view to understand the processes / systems of reporting and investigation.

3. The ability to gather information from various sources & Individuals.

4. The capability for an objective and factual approach while avoiding the blame culture.

5. The skill of Interviewing.

6. The capability to make notes on the go.

7. Ability to prepare system wise checklist.

8. Delegation of work.

9. Analytical thinking.

10. Problem solving capability.

What are some of the key points that you would like to convey to employees as part of an Occupational Safety Communication Program?

1. The vision & mission of the company in brief – the HSE policy in a manner that they understand (that is in simple words).

2. The good (safety wise) things they have done as an organization/ department/ individuals.

3. The areas where there is scope for development.

4. Case studies/safety flashes of own organization/the industry.

5. A gentle reminder of the employees’ responsibilities.

6. The thrust on reporting of incidents especially near miss unsafe act & condition.

7. Nurturing a blame free culture.

How would you address non-compliance to safety norms among employees?

Non compliance has to be handled very tactfully and diplomatically the last resort however being the zero tolerance to non compliance. However, I believe the following steps should help in setting things right:

1 Avoid the blame game.

2. Be factual & objective.

3. Listen actively to the violator make notes (Circumstance Action Result).

4. Ask for the violators’ understanding of the company HSE policy.

5. Review the training records with the violator.

6. Arrange for an independent observer.

7. Look into the possibility of change in behaviour (training supervision etc).

8. Develop an action plan with employee buy-in (written documentation).

Please tell us about a key moment in your career where you wish you had handled a safety incident differently.

I would not mention the name of the company or that of the individuals as this supposed be free of blame and only a lesson learnt. However, following is what I would like to share:

Scenario: A civil worker was asked by a construction manager to break off some RCC structures. In a high humidity high temperature desert area using a jack hammer with the sop that he can go home for the day as soon as he completes the work.

The worker attempted by working continuously without taking water or break for about 2 hours with the intention of going home early.

Implications: The worker went into convulsions and was immediately sent to a nearby hospital where upon treatment he survived and returned to work safely. Half an hour delay would have resulted in a fatality.

Actions taken by me as a Safety Manager that time were to introduce a permit to work system for Jack hammer use for more than 15 minutes & Increase the water intake observation activity.

How could this have been handled, differently:

1. Call for a meeting with the construction manager and work out a system by which prior information of work and a safe system of work for that particular activity is agreed upon.

2. Meet the HR manager and ensure that schemes for productivity such as half day, paid holiday, incentives, etc cannot be on-the-spot or spontaneous decisions.

3. Establish a system that keeps the HR and safety department in the know of such incentives/schemes.