Safety is everybody’s responsibility


“An effective accident prevention programme can be succeeded only by active co-operation from all groups” – R. R. Nair

An accident is an unplanned event. In other words, it is an unplanned, undesirable occurrence, which results in injury, sometimes death, or damage to property. There is a possibility of accident in every sphere of human activity, may be at home, whilst travelling at play or at work. An accident brings distress to the victims either in the form of death or injury. For a family, it is a loss of disablement of the bread earner. For an industry, it is loss of production and additional expenditure by way of compensation. For the nation, it is loss of human resources.

Accidents are not new to human beings. They ever exist, since the primitive age, till today, except that their degree of hazard and severity have been increasing keeping pace with the degree of automation and complexity of machinery run on power. With the advance of technology and medicine; man has striven hard to device protective equipment and guards to protect himself from any danger. But unfortunately those efforts seem to be still inadequate to ensure him full safety.

Industrial accidents take major share in the overall accident picture. The toll of industrial accidents is so great and their effects on human beings are so disastrous casting their long lasting shadows on the society, that an effective accident prevention programme is justified on the humanitarian ground alone. Apart from precious human life, the industrial accidents are causing great damage to the plant and machinery used for production. Accident prevention, therefore, has become the ethic of industrial working and living. It is, therefore, proper to have safety drive to make industry a safe place to work and live and let others live happily.

Every person working in industry i.e. the Managers, Supervisors, Workers, Safety Committee Members and Trade Union Members, has to play an active role in safety drive. This article will focus on the role and responsibility of each group towards an effective safety drive.

Accident prevention in any organisation must be looked upon as an essential prerequisite of good and sound management. This policy alone will assure the employee that the management is sincere in their efforts to provide welfare to their employees. A sound safety policy guides the efforts of people in achievement of management’s goal.

The attitude of top management towards the accident prevention is invariably reflected in the attitude of employees down below. It is therefore, necessary for the top management to provide an ideal leadership of enthusiasm and interest in safety for desirable behaviour of their employees.

An effective safety programme emanates from the top of the organisation and percolates down to the shop floor. It is better the top management assigns responsibility for safety down to the first line supervisors. Remember, that safety of employees and plant is the interest of the organinsation for its smooth and efficient running.

There are many effective methods to improve the overall safety and health record of an organisation. The most important point to be considered here is to obtain and sustain top management support while ensuring that they clearly understand their role in providing such support. To improve overall safety and health of an organisation, the top management has to perform various roles, and some of them are listed below:

  • Set the example;
  • Establish specific incentives;
  • Demonstrate interest;
  • Provide financial and personal support;
  • Use enforcement, when necessary.

To ensure that subordinates adequately support safety and health efforts of the organisation, top managers must set the example. This can be done by establishing:

  • Incentive programmes;
  • Demonstrating their interest in safety and health efforts;
  • Wearing appropriate protection when in a plant.

The top managers should also establish specific incentive schemes for good safety performance. These could include:

  • Setting goal based on per cent of improvement;
  • Using the “management by objectives” system, and thereby setting specific objectives such as to accomplish a type of safety training or improve guarding on certain machines;
  • Establishing a specific reward system for senior managers, plant managers, departmental heads, supervisors, etc.

It may be reminded here that the management should not feel satisfied only by adhering to legal provisions and by displaying few safety posters or appointing a safety officer or safety committees, but management should show genuine interest and show concern for safety in their every action and word. This could only result from the enthusiasm and sincere interest shown by management in the safety drive.

Safety is an integral part of production and is the only way to quality and quantity. Safety should be interwoven into the operating activity as thoroughly as possible, so that safety is not regarded by the workers as something separate and not a part of their regular job.

Supervisor is said to be an important link between management and workers. It may be remembered here that the supervisor is the starting point for an effective implementation of accident prevention programme on shop floor. Supervisor is in charge of the workers and equipment and held responsible for the proper behaviour of workers and has to work through them in achievement of his main task of giving quality production in time. He should, therefore, have more concern for accidents which ultimately interrupt the smooth flow of production and can cause harm to his reputation as a supervisor.

Supervisor should make his department safe for working by keeping the environments and surroundings clean, tidy and congenial to work. For this he should watch for slippery and patchy floors, congestion of aisles and workplaces, inadequate ventilation and illumination. He should always be on the lookout for unsafe places and situations leading to accidents. He should promptly take corrective action if it in the purview of his authority or else report the observations made and suggest remedial measures to higher authorities for quick action. The matter should however be followed up until it is rectified. He may also take up other precautionary methods like informing the person concerned or guarding the danger by temporary methods. The unsafe conditions created by materials left in gangways or improperly stacked can be eliminated by setting the things right. The bad flooring, broken ladder, inadequacy of space, lighting, ventilation, etc. requires approval of top management to remedy. However, the supervisor on his part can provide alternative arrangements to lessen the danger till such time adequate measures are taken by management.

Supervisor should adopt methods of working which are free from hazards. He should continue to strive for improvements in methods by eliminating all hazards leading to unsafe practices. He should also see that gassy, fumy and hot work areas are as far as possible shielded or isolated from adjoining work areas and the persons working on the processes are provided with appropriate suitable personal protective equipment.

Supervisor should also see that his workers are safety conscious and have developed safety habits and practices as part of their good performances on the job. He should imbibe in this employees they alone can cause or prevent occurrence of accidents in the plant and thereby enhance the standing of the department in the organisation. He should also appeal to their good sense and stimulate their urge to avoid personal loss and excel in safety performance. He should encourage them to be free from injury by adhering to safety legislations and abiding by safety norms and instructions in the interest of their family, society and nation at large. Supervisor can assure himself that he has safety minded people working with all safe habits only.

It may be remembered here that every unsafe act is a challenge and the supervisor should regard it as an occasion to instil safety consciousness and impress upon them that safety rules are in their own interest and they are meant to be obeyed in the larger interest of their fellow beings and organisation in which they work.

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