Jason Woods, IPAF Middle East & South Asia Regional Manager
The safety journey
It’s been more than 30 years of working in the world of safety and I have seen a massive shift in how the HSE world works today. I truly believe that when we consistently strive toward a clear objective, the results are not far away. But I also accept that the more we talk about “safety”, we will be able to identify the loopholes that need attention and care. When we look at developing countries like India, safety conditions have clearly improved, but there is still a lot of work to be done before we can give it a green light.
An acute shortage of skilled workforce can be a challenge for all, especially when the worker has limited knowledge or is not competent to carry out the task. Therefore, we rely on “Training” which plays a vital role and holds the importance of correct training leading to competent worker(s). In my opinion, a training provider must understand the onsite requirements which are set by management and involve these practices in the training of the workforce, for example, the content of Risk Assessment to carry out work safely - in a broken down way so that the workers understand the content of the document.
The only way to upgrade or better oneself or one’s working conditions is to learn more and more about the areas where we fall short. India has several significant obstacles when it comes to establishing safe working conditions, but I want to focus on the disconnect between the company and training providers and equipment designed for working at height - MEWPs/AWP. If we take an overall review, the re-occurring limitation can be seen.
Lack of both practical and theoretical knowledge when MEWPs are involved.
The use of MEWP/AWP equipment is designed to allow the workers to be safe reaching heights and platform positions quite easily. In India, we are seeing some steady growth in this type of equipment being used on a regular basis. Issues arise when there is lack of competency between the management and equipment operator and there is no understanding of the machine’s features and capabilities. More often than not, the operator is also positioned at the ground and not in the platform, which creates additional risks.
Moving back to the topic of training our people, it is essential to incorporate both theory and practical sessions so that the trainees become competent for safer working practices.
Un-certified training for managers and operators
HSE standards and policies are set by companies but are not manageable. Guidelines are a standard that are set either by the client or contractor. In such a case, importance is given to the content to be managed and amended where necessary. This can be achieved through dedicated team leaders.
Low-paid, poorly educated employees are not a deal-breaker; it only means that we may need to adjust how we approach training and competency by teaching the workers how to do things safely using different techniques.
My journey as an IPAF Senior Instructor started in 1996, and as an instructor, I’ve had the privilege of instructing a lot of HSE professionals. Indian companies should take training sessions more seriously and provide training under license to promote a certified way to work. Companies should adopt advanced techniques and avoid old practices that have been followed for years. The one size fits all approach by companies should be dropped and emphasis should be given to the training courses that are relevant to the organization and the individual.
Companies and training providers should bridge the gap between themselves and lend their expertise to the employees and trainees. Customizing the training courses according to the needs of your company will generate the best results.
India should consciously take into consideration the limitations that are being faced by the Health and Safety industries. Whatever line of work we are in, having the right energy mix is essential.