|Year : 2012 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 93-94
EHS challenges: Project sites
Editor, IJOEM Siemens Ltd., 130, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Opposite Doordarshan, Worli, Mumbai - 400 018, India
|Date of Web Publication||13-May-2013|
G K Kulkarni
Vice President-Health Management, Siemens Limited, 130, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Opposite Doordarshan, Worli, Mumbai - 400 018
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kulkarni G K. EHS challenges: Project sites. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2012;16:93-4
The project business provides for large scale employment in power, railway, highway, port, aviation, irrigation, and many other sectors. The business volume is estimated to be more than 400 billion US dollars, and hence each industry thrives to get their share of business to show case technical capability and deploy skilled and unskilled manpower. More than 30 million people are employed in India and 82.45 % are unskilled, that is, the major area of concern with respect to environment, health, and safety (EHS) challenges. There is always a risk to limb and/or life.
To ensure project business safe and profitable, one should look at possible EHS objectives:
Close look shall indicate that EHS challenges come from workplace, worker, environment, and management. Now let us look at challenges from "workplace".
- Responsible care and management accountability.
- Integrate EHS with every business.
- Legal compliance.
- Zero harm culture: Focus on preventing accidents, save life and limb, bring in culture change, concern for environment, and prevent damage to assets.
- Health management: Aim to prevent occupational diseases, promote wellness, and health risk assessment.
Following are the EHS challenges that arise from workplace:
EHS challenges from workforce:
- Unsafe working conditions
- Working at height
- Electrical power
- Material handling
- Equipment and tools
- Implementation of EHS management system
- Dynamic changes at project site
- Multiple agencies at work
- Earth moving equipments
- Transport vehicles
In India, project site workforce comes from different states, speaks different language, and differs in their culture and food choices.
EHS challenges from environment:
- Culture and literacy
- Unsafe act
- Lack skill and competency
- Working hours
- Unstable employment and migrant labor
- Wages and welfare facilities
- Gender issues
The climate affects performance and health of workforce. Sociopolitical practice also poses greater challenges.
EHS challenges for management:
- Hostile climate
- Political interference and social issues
- Lack of infrastructure
- Enforcement of statutory regulations
- Geographical location
- Health risks: Environmental diseases
Project manager and site manager are key persons in implementing EHS requirements, client liaison, influencing others, and successful closure of project.
There is need for strategy to face these challenges. The strategy should focus on "sustainable change is a must". It is expected that leadership shall provide tone from the top, periodic EHS reviews with all concerned, good project planning and site mobilization, integrating EHS at planning phase, implement controls that are critical to safety, vendor selection with respect to EHS competency, carry out health risk assessment wherever needed and regular checks and audits. Design an EHS dash board so that top management can review EHS performance on line. Engaging project managers, site managers, contractors, contract workers, EHS professionals, and clients; through newsletters, photo albums, posters, video films, tool box talks, and safety alerts. Grass root communications on EHS do's and don'ts shall change the work culture. It is a good idea to celebrate best practices and reward people responsible for such change. Off course, we hope that suitable regulatory and political reforms take place on a periodic basis.
- Tone from the top
- Responsible care and accountability
- Demonstration of EHS leadership
- Rigid time line
- Control over EHS during subcontracting
- Communication and supervision
- Lack of planning
- Vendor selection process
- Cost driven
Amongst all, one should not forget health. Health risk assessment with facilities for triage, first aid, emergency preparedness, and transportation (including air evacuation) needs to be planned in advance.
The project business is very challenging that involves legal compliance, managing multiple contractors, migrant labor, workplace violence, and managing political interference. Issues related to hygiene, food safety, water quality, access to health facility, quality of EHS officer, training of contract workers, and sustaining best practices are real challenges for the site and project manager. In the end it must be our endeavor to create safe workplace so that one can prevent loss of life and/or limb.