By Vivek Bhachawat
Is Safety the first priority in your Organization? Is worker safety and a hazard free working environment really what you strive for? It is seen that many organizations have fancy policies and documents portraying the concern they have for the safety of their workforce, but the reality is very different. These protocols and procedures that organizations claim to have in place are generally to achieve documentary compliance for various certifications and audits, with the end-goal remaining a boost in profits. Safety, however remain neglected and procedures become a joke if they are not practiced as is, any leeway that occurs in safety procedures no matter how trivial, can prove to be very costly. If we look at tragedy’s that have previously occurred, such as the Oil spill in the Pacific, Gas Tragedy in India and nuclear blast in Russia, all of them could have been avoided if safety policies and procedures were robust and well adhered to.
Even in organizations which do not pose an overt threat to workers or the environment, safety is the most basic and primary need for any individual and the duty of the management of any organization to fulfill this need is implied. As per Abraham Maslow’s theory about ‘Hierarchy of needs’, Safety, at the workplace is then first and foremost need of any worker. So when we say Safety First, we should mean it and work towards achieving it, because no one would like to work in an unsafe working environment. The life of a person is of the highest value and to ensure the safety of workers the highest responsibility of any organization. Many management practices like Poka Yoke widely practiced in Japan aims to fool-proof a given process in terms of operations in lean manufacturing, but similar processes can be used in Safety from a Safety Management point of view. The trick is to make a safety procedure both effective and efficient at the same time and this can be done using IT.
Today there are various industrial safety standards around the world that are helping Organizations better understand and develop safety related policies and procedures, OSHA Act 1970 USA- Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act, is one such example, where a clearly defined set of rules have to be adhered to for Safety and Health. Almost every country has similar rules for the minimum safety requirements for industrial establishments. Companies around the world need to better monitor and achieve these safety standards, but the problem that they face is that the efforts made for safety management are not fully integrated, there is a need for a system that would provide a greater insight on what is happening and what needs to be done for safety across the entire Organization.
The need is to truly believe in the Mantra- ‘Safety First.’, and practice it through IT solutions. Today there are many products in the market which are helping organizations streamline their Safety efforts and thereby achieve a cost effective yet robust management, to ensure a safe working environment. Automated systems today are capable of providing features ranging from risk-assessment to providing safety training. With a right IT application the possibilities become limitless. But, it is very important to understand your own needs first before jumping for a solution. You need to first understand the industry practices for safety, then compare them with your current system and establish what needs to be automated and why. Then you need to work with a competent vendor, who understands your industry’s requirement and can achieve the safety level you desire, with minimum efforts and cost. So if you really want a Safe working environment, you need to think safety, plan for safety and act for safety, but with an IT perspective to make a fool-proof, robust and cost-effective safety solution.