The Universal Declaration
of Human Rights says:
has the right to work, to free choice of employment,
to just and favourable conditions of work..”
What is ‘Safety’?
In a layman’s words, it means protection from
hazards. An ‘accident’ on the other hand
means events taking place on account of lack of our
anticipation and foresight. An accident results in a
large volume of misery. It results in losses to the
employer, physical pain to the injured employee and
mental agony to the near and dear ones of the injured
Let us also look at
training – what does this term mean? Training
is a systematic and methodical approach to enrich and
educate individuals to update their job related knowledge.
It equips them to do the present job effectively, while
preparing them for future needs of the organization.
It is a continuous process which caters to the ever
changing needs and requirements of organizations.
WHY IS TRAINING
IN SAFETY IMPORTANT?
The general attitude
towards training is that it is a ‘mini vacation’
affording an individual a chance to break away from
his routine work. It is a common experience that the
individual takes training inputs casually; this is further
compounded by the lack of interest and follow-up by
the Training / HRD dept. This attitude is however changing.
Training has assumed a pivotal role in the era of globalization
and competition. Therefore it is essential that training
in not only safety but also in other areas be imparted
in a focused and purposeful manner.
It is an unpleasant
but undeniable fact that people generally take safety
in day-to-day life very casually. From driving on roads
to electrical connections, to adopting safe work practices,
people assume an “I don’t care” attitude,
particularly in India. We are familiar with the supervisor’s
typical attitude of “ I want production at any
cost”. On the other hand, a worker’s typical
attitude is “ I have been working on this machine
for so many years – I know how to handle it”.
These types of mind sets make it difficult to impart
training while also relegating the safety department’s
role to a secondary one, which ends in compromise.
Training employees is
an expensive process, it costs to bring in a trainer,
there is also the added cost of employees being paid
to attend training, and arranging for alternative manpower
to carry on the work during the training.
Training is considered
by the Ministry of Labour to be a ‘Reasonable
Precaution’ and it is taken into account during
investigations in case of an accident. To quote Thomas
D’Urfey, in Quixote- “The worth of a thing
is known by its want”. If the training doesn’t
provide any benefit, or deliver the objective we were
trying to achieve, then was it worth what we paid, even
if it was a bargain? If poor or substandard training
could actually be used as evidence against you, are
the savings worth it?
In view of the foregoing,
let us now look at practical aspects of safety training
in a responsible organization.
OF SAFETY TRAINING:
For safety training
to be truly effective, it is important that the following
aspects be given adequate weightage:
· Include safety
as a component of the Vision & Mission statement
· 100% commitment form the top management
· Proper, practical and focused identification
of training needs
· Safety audits, such as QRA, Hazop studies,
etc., to ascertain the existing standards of safety
in the organization
· Building a climate or ‘culture’
of safety, as a matter of routine
· Awareness about the importance of safety
in day-to-day activities, whether at home, office
or in the community
· Performance Management System / Appraisal
System should include safety as an important evaluation
criterion – rewards / penalties
should be linked with safety performance, at individual
as well as team level.
We also need
to honestly answer the following questions:
- What are the training
- Do we want to improve performance or ensure a safer
workplace, reduce damage or just get it done because
it is a legal requirement?
- Does the training we are looking at have any recognized
standard such as ISO to meet?
- Is the trainer recognized in the industry?
- What are the trainer’s qualifications, references?
WHY SAFETY GETS
of Gandhi’s monkeys can be aptly adapted to explain
this, as is generally the case –
O Do not see what
is obviously a safety hazard’
O Do not speak out when you notice a potential safety
O Do not hear when somebody else points out a potential
WHAT WE CAN
DO, TO PROMOTE SAFETY AS A CULTURE:
O Involve employees
at all levels – introduction of Safety Committees
at unit / organizational levels
O Celebrations of events like ‘Safety Day’,
O Organizing competitions, exhibitions on the theme
O Introducing safety as a way of life during induction
of new employees
O On the job / off the job training and evaluating
O Organizing programmes based on safety in the community
through innovative methods like ‘Bhavai’
– a traditional folk dance method
that appeals to even the illiterate and uneducated
O Class room sessions
O Publishing of bulletins
O Generating awareness regarding statutory / legal
O Accident analysis and constant improve-ments through
O Finally, the ‘Carrot and Stick’ method
– judiciously using both to attain the desired
Let us now look at demonstrated
results of training in safety, by briefly studying the
experience of two organizations.
OF NUCLEAR POWER CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD. (NPCIL)
Results of concerted efforts in Safety Training
- Status in 1999
Training efforts have
borne results slowly and steadily. Frequency Rate and
Severity Rate (criteria universally used for comparing
safety status in industry) have fallen from 5.68 and
848 in 1990 to 0.81 and 36.4 respectively in 1999. The
improvement in the safety performance of NPCIL units
can be attributed to various factors such as increased
safety awareness, proper planning of hazardous operations,
providing training to staff on applicable safety rules
and regulations, safety promotional schemes, etc.
SAFETY IN TRANSPEK-SILOX
The high priority accorded
to safety in the organization is evident from the fact
that the Environment Health and Safety, (EHS) dept.
was created and is headed by a General Manager. He is
supported by a dedicated team, of which four are senior
The effort to instill
a culture of safety in the organization started with
commitment and support from the Board of Directors and
the anaging Director. Within a matter of two years the
concerted efforts of the EHS team is showing results
– the Frequency Rate of accidents has fallen from
18 per year in 2000 to 2.94 per year in 2003. The Severity
Rate has also declined from 0.1 in 2000-2001 to 0.04
Basically, all training
efforts are expected to result in better performance.
However, our experience shows that the following methods
and training programmes can certainly result in improved
The induction training
should clarify corporate expectations and reinforce
core values of the culture. Safety and quality as well
as superior individual and team performance should be
highlighted during induction. The foundation training
therefore provides orientation towards all important
engineering concepts, skills and safety procedures.
This training would thus also be suitable for assessing
physical and mental fitness of inductees.
To promote a culture
of safety in an organization, it is imperative that
all personnel in leadership positions personally set
example by consistent and visible adherence to the safety
norms. It is a universally accepted fact that setting
personal example is a significant factor in percolating
good practices to all levels in any organization. This
is easier said than done, but if safety has to become
a culture, it should be impartially enforced if softer
options do not yield results.
CLASS ROOM TRAINING
To reinforce the safety
culture, class room training should be planned and conducted
after identification of training needs. Apart from general
training programmes on awareness, use of PPEs, etc.,
this should be made more focused by accident and ‘near
miss’ analysis to address real life situations
arising in the work place. A careful study of hazardous
processes should also be made, and training programmes
should cover these areas too.
This is a very effective
method. All that needs to be done is to have a person
who has unfortunately had an accident, share the details
of not only the event, but also the physical and mental
agony he and his family had to endure, after the accident.
A class room or shop floor or any other forum where
employees gather can be utilized for the purpose. Hand-outs
containing pictorial / graphic representations can be
made and circulated during such sessions.
ON THE JOB TRAINING
This is another widely
used method. It is
simple yet effective, as the content is less theoretical
and mostly practical . The immediate supervisor (who
has been adequately trained)
is the faculty and he would train the employees in areas
of day to day operations, based on Standard Operating
Procedures. Mock drills can be used as part of on-the-job
training. Such training places the employees in an actual
work situation and they learn by doing, by assessing
results, quick corrective action and provision for extra
EXTERNAL TRAINING PROGRAMMES
A large number of reputed
training institutes are now professionally equipped
to impart focused training on safety related areas.
Identified employees should be nominated to undergo
training in such institutes in order to upgrade their
knowledge. Such employees should then be made members
of a core group of trainers / faculty for training other
employees in the company.
OFF THE JOB
This covers training
of an employee when he is away from his work place,
and with his family or in the community. It involves
making family members aware about domestic safety concerns;
this would automatically ensure safety in the work place.
An employee would be aware that unsafe acts on his part
could jeopardize his family. This can be reinforced
by distributing literature, leaflets etc., to family
members. Seminars, conferences, talks by experts in
safety should be organized in the community.
This would include seminars,
exhibitions, quizzes, competitions, dance/drama and
celebration of special occasions concerning safety.
This method utilizes the audio-visual method predominantly,
and it can be a very effective vehicle for facilitating
safety awareness within an organization as well as within
on which success of the various methods mentioned above
unquestionably rests depends on the following factors:
· A well trained,
dedicated and empowered team of safety professionals
in the organization
· A dependable method of evaluating the effectiveness
of safety training – this would
ensure that all training
efforts are based on experience and facts and effectively
address the safety concerns of the organization
According to the World
Health Organization (WHO), 3% of the global burden of
disease is caused by preventable injuries and exposure
to toxic substances, noise and hazardous work patterns.
The cost of deaths,
injuries and disease caused by work is around 4% of
gross national product (GNP) in developed countries,
according to the ILO. According to the European Agency
for Safety and Health, the loss to GNP is in the range
of 2.6% to 3.8%.
Safety therefore is
not only part of every job, but it is also part of every
person’s life. Employees should not consider safety
merely as a job related aspect and forget it when they
go home. The employee, the company and the community
become safer when the employee makes safety a part of
A beginning has been
made in the right direction in Indian industry, and
the future certainly holds the promise of a much safer
and cleaner work environment for all the employees.
In fact, the community also stands to gain from training
programmes tailored to enhance awareness about safety
as a way of life in day-to-day activities. Although
safety is everybody’s responsibility, it is ultimately
the prime responsibility of employers and that of the
US NOT FORGET – “SAFETY IS EVERY DAY; SAFETY
HAS NO HOLIDAY”.