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Playing it safe

Manufacturing companies are redefining their safety guidelines. Know how.

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Pandemic, 'new normal, Smart water recycling systems, COVID-19, Grundfos, Safety Incident Management Systems, IoT, Trust AI, 3M Spandan, Girish Appu, Vice President, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, 3M India, Alstom Zero Deviation Plan Directives, Alain Spohr, Managing Director, India & South Asia, Alstom, Dinesh Jain, President Legal & Corporate Affairs, Uflex, Sriram Ramakrishnan, MD, Fuji Electric Consul Neowatt & Fuji Electric India, Social distancing, Godrej Appliances, Saurabh Goel, President, Havells India, Puneet Vidyarthi, Brand Leader, CASE India, George Rajkumar, India Operations & Asia Pacific Region Operations Strategy Director, Aditi Sharma, Vice-President Quality, Manufacturing, HSE, NPRO & CSE, Cummins India

Safety is the major aspect that the pandemic has altered for the lay man as well as for the industry. Every manufacturing company is taking utmost steps to keep its employees safe and the business intact. Underlining his company’s policy in this regard, Farrokh Cooper, Chairman & MD, Cooper Corporation mentions, “The top-down approach about following safety norms sends a clear message to shopfloor people. It helps us in developing ‘safe work culture in the organisation’ and safe work culture improves the morale of employees. Also, safety implementation will help us in increasing productivity, reduce overhead expenses, avoid undue litigations and improve the image of the company as safety comes under best business practices among the top industries.”

Informing about the Cummins India’s safety approach Aditi Sharma, Vice-President Quality, Manufacturing, HSE, NPRO & CSE, Cummins India says, “Our goal within the HSE function is to ensure that every single employee leaves work in the same or better condition. This is duly reflected in the lagging safety indicators, while globally we have reduced our incident rate by more than 50% in last decade even with strong growth trajectory, India ABO has been on the forefront of this – In 2019, we reduced recordable injuries by 25%, lost work day cases dropped by 41% & dangerous occurrence count decreased by 32%. We have an active risk assessment process and with current risk assessments our focus is on two aspects - 1. Continuation+ Acceleration - Culture, Ergonomics & risk management and 2. Development and Deployment - Non-process work and Management of Change (MOC).

George Rajkumar, India Operations & Asia Pacific Region Operations Strategy Director, Grundfos says, “We understand that safety is not just the responsibility of Environment, Health & Safety department but of every employee present in the company. A Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach is followed to reduce the risks and adopt a fool-proof method by providing high standard safety tools & equipment and train our employees in behavioral safety.” Kamal Nandi, Business Head & Executive Vice President, Godrej Appliances explains, “In the pre-COVID era, the idea of safety at work was confined to - occupational hazards, safety from accidents, injuries and protocols to follow while operating heavy machinery. Owing to the pandemic, a calibrated approach towards ‘health & hygiene’ is also a part of the safety narrative across the board now.”

Redefining safety
With the new normal, social distancing, sanitisation, use of masks, temperature check, etc. have become buzzwords. However, going beyond these what steps are companies taking to make the workplace safe? Answering this Puneet Vidyarthi,Brand Leader, CASE India says, “We’ve scrutinized each & every process that we follow in an attempt to secure the lives of our employees. We’ve even changed the way our employees punch attendance. It's shifted from biometricst to a GPS based app which allows them to punch in and out. Besides, the use of infrared thermometers & security cameras are helping us in keeping an eye at our facilities at all times. We continue to seek out more technologies that can help us in creating a safe and hygienic environment.”

“We are following all safety norms mandated by the Government & WHO to ensure proper health of our employees. Proper Standard operating procedures or SOP have been formulated for a work place working and communicated to all the employees,” mentions Saurabh Goel, President, Havells India.
ions, “Considering the business continuity, our factories and offices are split into multiple isolated work zones and we have formed makeshift assembly zones to ensure that there is no contact among various sets of employees. We have restricted most of our travels and implemented visitor screening, zone-wise employee monitoring along with the necessary social distancing norms that apply in all our workspace areas. We have also increased the frequency of sanitation. Goods & materials are thoroughly disinfected & zone entries are restricted to individuals. Taskforce team assess the situation regularly & facilitate our employees to get accustomed to this new normal way of life. To de-stress & reinforce the mental health of our employees virtual collaboration methods & various online training programs are administered,” adds Rajkumar.

Revealing steps taken at Cummins India, Sharma says “Protecting employees from exposure has to be dealt with multiple strategies because a lot depends on the type of work being performed and exposure risk, including potential for interaction with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 & contamination of the work environment.” She further elaborates, “We reviewed BCP’s (Business continuity plans) for Region & sites even before we had first case in India. We had our action plan ready with a central CORE team taking charge for deployment and regulate day to day actions. Like any infection control strategy, ours was also based on a thorough hazard assessment for India operations categorised ourself as 4 (5 being highest) based on the evolving situation. Accordingly, we initiated actions on ground by using appropriate combinations of engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposures.”

“At Godrej Appliances, we have been adhering to all the safety & hygiene aspects as per the MHA guidelines as we resume operations post the lockdown in different locations. We are also following stringent rules during commute, within office premises, at assembly lines, in canteens, etc. Most meetings were shifted to virtual platforms even before the lockdown began and we continue to adhere to the same. At our workplaces at HO, we are even in the process of removing many doors and making many entrances sensor-based,” Nandi adds.

Speaking about safety measures in the company’s facilities, Sriram Ramakrishnan, MD, Fuji Electric Consul Neowatt & Fuji Electric India says, “We have placed poster on safe behaviour & social distancing as well as proper usage of masks, hand washing procedures. Entry of visitors has been suspended to the facility & meetings are being done through video conferencing tools. Appointed COVID-19 champions audit the safety activities on daily basis & report to keep alertness across the organisation. Pre-approved service providers are required to keep their visits brief & wear masks and gloves.”


Uflex follows similar steps. Dinesh Jain, President  Legal & Corporate Affairs, UFlex mentions, “All employees are mandated to get themselves thermal screened, wear face masks, regularly wash their hands and maintain social distancing across the offices and shopfloors. Social distancing is maintained at cafes as well. Get together, meetings and trainings have been discontinued and instead we have been encouraging all employees to have virtual meetings. Outsider visits aren’t allowed unless pre-approved. Wearing masks and head covers was always a part of our safety practice shopfloors but now face masks have to be worn across the premises.”

“Apart from the normal safety measures being taken to prevent the outbreak of the virus we have deployed a research team for usage of technology which helps us with new technologically driven inventions which can be used for the safety. Touchless & foot operated hand sanitizers, touchless thermal screening machines for temperature check, sanitisation chambers, sanitizing the office & the manufacturing plants after loading and unloading of the vehicles and touchless soap liquids for hand wash are some of the examples suggested by them and incorporated by us,” reveals Thakkar.

"Amongst other, we have invested in compliant platforms, life lines, retractable fall arrestors, machine guarding to prevent access to dangerous part of machines including light barriers, LOTO equipment to protect employees working at Alstom locations in line with Alstom Zero Deviation Plan Directives, which are more stringent than the local regulations. Proactive approach like elimination, reduction & engineering controls are being considered in all our mitigation measures to control risk associated with our industrial activities," Alain SPOHR, Managing Director, India & South Asia, Alstom.

Technology Enabler
Technology is playing a great role in the endovour of keeping the workplace safe. “Technology has turned out to be the biggest enabler in these crucial times. It has helped in bringing a sense of normalcy in this uncertain situation. Our processes have seen a huge shift on all fronts & we’ve adopted multiple online platforms to function as we did before. We interact with our customers via digital communication tools; we train our dealers through online meetings and webinars; earlier our products were showcased via on-ground events but now we’re also creating new avenues online to provide the same experience. Our HR department has also created online training modules to spread awareness about the do’s & don’ts of the pandemic, which is mandatory for every employee,” says Vidyarthi.

“We are trying to integrate more & more touchless technologies in operating our machines so that we alleviate transmission risk. Also, we have switched to virtual methods to continue communication with customers, partners, etc. that we need to stay in touch with,” says Jain.

Girish Appu, Vice President, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, 3M India elaborates “Technology is important in achieving excellence and EHS is no exception to this.
• For conducting high quality EHS Leadership interactions with workers, capturing these discussions in the See & Act tool in EHS 360
• Power BI is extensively used for consolidating the data to take informed decisions
• A virtual platform was created to learn from best practices in other 3M subsidiaries
• When the facilities were about to reopen, we ensured Return to Work Protocols were implement through use of technology, Skype and Microsoft team broadcasts sessions were held to train employees’ families on the protective measures one needs to take during COVID-19
• An Online mobile application called 3M Spandan was developed to perform the daily self-assessment by the employees. Employees take the Selfassessment check & obtain a Visual Health Code before they who enter any 3M India facilities.”

“For employee safety & security, Havells partnered with BLP Industry.AI ('Industry.AI'), an enterprise AI & industrial IoT company to enforce social distancing in order to keep our workforce safe & secure. The “Trust AI” product uses Artificial Intelligence to analyse live video feed to monitor social distancing at the workplace. It is an AI & Computer Vision powered video analytics monitoring product that issues an alert when anyone is less than the desired distance from a colleague. It uses existing IP camera’s & CCTV cameras combined with computer vision to ensure social distancing is enforced, and when breached, an alarm is triggered. This cost-effective technology has also been trained to detect when people are not wearing masks, helmets or safety gear. The alert is sent out via email or SMS to a factory administrator. The application has numerous AI algorithms to ensure effective alerts & monitoring,” says Goel.

“Right after the lockdown was reinforced, we had rolled out a ‘Remote Assist’ program wherein we provided 'Do It Yourself' videos or Voice Assistance to solve at least the simpler service requests from our customers. In the past couple of months, we have resolved 15,000+ service requests through remote assistance and received heartfelt positive feedback from these consumers. As the lockdown has lifted across most parts, we have ensured that our service technicians have undergone comprehensive training on safety measures and precautions to follow during customer visits,” Nandi mentions.

“We encourage all the employees to identify the hazards, near miss & incidents that possibly might occur and communicate the same in the Safety Incident Management Systems (SIMS). The SIMS is a mobile application that Grundfos has created to help employees with safety required tasks. Employees register their findings in the SIMS portal and the actions are collaboratively handled by respective zone responsible & EHS Engineer. To encourage the employees to come up with safety process improvements ideas we have created an Improvement Proposal App, ideas are evaluated and communicated across the organisation. The person who provided the best proposal will be empowered to implement his/her idea & is declared as ‘Safety Champion’ & rewarded suitably,” shares Rajkumar.

“The automation technology does provide strong multiple safety levels. Interlocked gates, biometric authorisation & mechanical fail-safe safety devices in robotic production lines ensure human safety. Industrial automation provides safety interlocking. The safety gates using PILZ type, dynamically condition monitoring emergency devices and magnetic locking arrangements, IR beam detectors, light barriers wellengineered with automation system provides strong safety features on the shop floor,” Cooper says.

“Soon most of our Safety trainings will be delivered online OR remotely by ensuring targeted subjects based on the job profile and assessments post trainings. First time, we have also planned to do our ISO14001 & 45001 audits by virtual means, we are working closely with the assessment and certification agency on this & soon the first audit will be conducted,” Sharma says. Further, Srivastava asserts, “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the value of strategic planning by integrated industrial ecosystems like Mahindra World City & ORIGINS. The quick resumption & ramp up of economic activities by our clients along with safe restart leveraged upon our existing investments in the following technologies:
• Smart access, CCTV & energy systems
• Real-time monitoring systems for critical utilities including electricity, water, STP, TTP, etc
• Smart water recycling systems.”

Conclusion
“Pandemic brought in a different level of focus which not only included employees but also their families. It was important that we keep our employee and their family informed on the Coronavirus scenario which was unfolding in the country. It all started by engaging various stakeholders & forming an incident management team. In short, pandemic brought everyone in the organisation closer, and made us look beyond the normal methods to service the customer while constantly ensuring the safety of our people,” says Appu.

“The pandemic brought businesses to a standstill across sectors, and the belief is that the 'new normal' post-COVID will have a new set of realities, which revolve foremost around concern for safety. As firms get busy resuming & reinventing their business, innovating new products, resuming manufacturing, reinventing distribution & supply chain they need to do all this while adhering to all safety norms possible – for their employees, their customers, their partners. In short, each entity in the chain is responsible for safety of the entire ecosystem,” concludes Nandi.

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