The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:
“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work..” (Article 23)

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 employee.

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.

PRE-REQUISITES 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 objectives?
- 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 IGNORED:

The example 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 hazard’
O Do not hear when somebody else points out a potential safety hazard’

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’, etc.
O Organizing competitions, exhibitions on the theme of ‘Safety’
O Introducing safety as a way of life during induction of new employees
O On the job / off the job training and evaluating its effectiveness
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 compliances
O Accident analysis and constant improve-ments through corrective action
O Finally, the ‘Carrot and Stick’ method – judiciously using both to attain the desired results

Let us now look at demonstrated results of training in safety, by briefly studying the experience of two organizations.

THE EXPERIENCE 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 INDUSTRY LTD.

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 persons.

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 in 2003.

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 safety performance:

INDUCTION PROGRAMMES

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.

SETTING EXAMPLE

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.

EXPERIENCE SHARING

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 practice.

DEPUTATION FOR 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 TRAINING

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.

TRAINING THROUGH COMMUNI-CATION CHANNELS

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 the community.

The foundation 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

CONCLUSION

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 his routine.

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 management.

LET US NOT FORGET – “SAFETY IS EVERY DAY; SAFETY HAS NO HOLIDAY”.

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 Bio-Data
Mr. D.B. Nimbalkar is a Commerce graduate and a Post Graduate in Social Sciences, from the M. S. University of Baroda. He is currently Vice President (Human Resource Management) of Transpek-Silox Industry Ltd., Vadodara.

He has Previously served in reputed organisations like Jyoti Ltd. (Vadodara), TELCO (Pune), Appollo Tyres (Vadodara) and Finolex Ltd. (Pune), in various capacities. He possesses 26 years of experience and has handled all aspects of Personnel and Human Resource Management, particularly Industrial Relations, Community Development and Introduction of new HR initiatives.

He is also a Special Invitee to the Managing Committees of various reputed organisations like Baroda Management Association, Federation of Gujarat Industries and Vadodara Employer’s Organisation. He is also visiting faculty in leading academic institutions in Pune.