Workplace Safety Audit in India

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Safety Audit of factories involved in hazardous processes and dangerous occurrences, has established itself in India. The entire credit goes to the 1987 amendments in the Factories Act, 1948 that we know as Chapter IVA prescribing provisions relating to hazardous processes.

It was the 1984 Bhopal disaster that took 16000 lives and crippled more than 500,000 people which prompted a serious review of existing safety enactments. Safety Audit has now become one of the spearheads to bring about a safe and healthy environment in industrial establishments.

In the years that has passed since the tragic Bhopal incident, the accident rate, the rate of dangerous occurrences and hazardousous disasters have come down drastically. While the production and productivity are touching new heights with their graph always pointing upward, this achievement becomes more pronounced. The cut-throat globalization and competitiveness have changed the definition of accident from "freedom from risk or danger" to "acceptable level of risk". But it is a complement to the statutory monitoring coupled with management’;s concern that in spite of new dimensions achieved in risk taking activities; As are evident in upcoming technological achievements and of course, in the inflating Guinness World of Records, we have not heard of any great misfortune or tragedy associated with industrial activity since 1984.

Safety audit begins with self-evaluation by an individual employee. He is encouraged to check his credentials against unsafe act committed knowing or unknowingly. The factory carries out its internal safety audit since they are well aware that an accident or dangerous occurrence retard productivity adding to the loss whereas an accident free period has become a marked value-addition. They adhere to the golden principle of "A Penny Saved is A Penny Earned". The society, too, has risen to an accident free environment. They have whistle blowers and Non-Government organizations armed with the latest "Right to Information (RTI) Rules. For instance, satellite imagery, at once, reveal where there is smoke in the sky and brown water gushing into streams and rivers.

External safety audits and internal safety audits have their own intrinsic qualities. An internal safety audit, carried out by a committee composed from experienced experts of a factory, reveals most unhidden unsafe acts and unsafe conditions. After-all, the occupier and its employees know better than others about conditions in their factory. An external safety audit, carried out by experts constituted from other factories, academic professionals or those registered with the DGFASLI presents out a non-complacent, un-corrupt, perspective report combined with benchmarked solutions and advice.

By far, the best kind of safety audit could only be carried out where both the in-house experts and expert guest blend together to review and improve a locus standi and modus operandi .

Under the guidance and umbrella of a periodic safety audit with religious follow-up measures, factories are inching slowly but steadily, towards a zero accident and zero pollution benchmark.

The objective of a comprehensive safety audit is to examine systematically and independently whenever activities and related results conform to planned arrangements and whether these changes are implemented safely and effectively to achieve the organization’;s written safety and health policy. The endeavor would be to collect independent information on the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of the total health and safety management system and suggesting plans or corrective actions to improve upon. The objective is to examine each stage in the health and safety management system for measuring compliance with the controls, the organization has developed, with the ultimate aim of assessing their effectiveness and their validity for the future.

The objective is to carry our systematic critical assessment of all the potential hazards involving man, machine and material which also features in itself plant services and method of operation. In general, the objective is to cover the examination and qualitative assessment of all facets of safety in every activity which includes research and development, design ad layout, occupational health and hygiene, environmental feature ad control, plant, product and process safety, employee and public safety. It involves a review of safety and health aspect in the production, technical operation, maintenance, clearance certificates, emergency procedures, job description, operating instructions, training, housekeeping, personal attitude, management-worker relationship, workers’; participation in health and safety matters etc.

The office of the Chief Advisor of Factories which is now called Director General, Factory Advice, Services and Labor Institute has taken out a comprehensive format to carry out a safety audit of a workplace / factory establishment. A specialist safety professional or team of safety experts may base their exercise on the below mentioned format. They may improvise upon to enrich it further. The safety audit report would be deemed to be complete if each an every points is reviewed and complemented with findings and expert advice for future course correction.

The Safety audit format is as under:

1.0 GENERAL INFORMATION

a) SITE INFORMATION

· Area of ​​the site (site layout & area 10 Km radius drawing.

· Number of employees

· Products manufactured and capacity

· Meteorological data of the area

b) PRODUCTION INFORMATION

· Products made

· Process details (broad) with specific reference to hazardous steps / area

· Raw materials / intermediates with inventory

· Hazardous material used with inventory

· Storage of material- capacity, location, storage conditions and details.

c) COPIES FOR CONSULTATION

· Recent safety audit report

· Hazard analysis

· Risk analysis

· On-site Plan and mock trials thereon

· Off-site plan for the area.

2.0 MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

a) SAFETY POLICY

· Content of the Policy

· Circulation

· Promotions / awareness Build-up

b) ATTUTUDE

· Awareness at various levels

· Willingness to learn / change

· Recognition of safety as an important function

c) SAFETY STRUCTURE

· Organization structure – reporting relationship

· Qualification / experience of key persons

· Roles and responsibility

· Specific knowledge on auditing / hazard analysis etc.

· Accountability of line managers for safety

· Safety as a factor in performance appraisal

· Role of safety in MES

3.0 SAFETY SYSTEMS

a) SAFETY FUNCTION

· Role of safety vis-à-vis other functions

· Procedure governing safety at works

· Training given to safety personnel / other employees

b) SAFETY INSTRUCTION

· Works Standing Instructions

· Area Instructions

· Statutory Warnings / Instructions

c) DOCUMENTATION

· Manuals (Safety / Fire / Others)

· MSDS

· Audit

· Statutory Compliance

d) FIRE PROTECTION

· Organization

· Roles / responsibilities

· Installation detail

· Schedule of FEA / Protection Equipment (detectors) etc.

· Fire Load Assessment

· Fire Alarm / Siren

· Fire fighting arrangement (Water, tender etc.)

· External support

· Codes and Standards.

e) PERMIT TO WORK / CLEARANCE

· Work Order

· Permit to work system

· Authorizations

· Monitoring / Controls

f) SAFETY INSPECTION

· Frequency of inspection

· Constitution f team

· Reporting of results

· Action on deficiencies

· Safety sampling

g) INVESTIGATION

· Accidents

· Abnormal accidents / deviation

· Constitution of team

· Examination of sample report

h) AUDITING / INSPECTION

· Safety auditing

· Inspection of safety features

· Frequency

· Agencies utilized (in-house / external)

· Action arising from audits

i) COMPLIANCE

· Status of compliance with regulation

· Register of compliance

· Monitoring

j) EMERGENCY MAMANEGMENT

· Hazard analysis

· On-site plan

· Vulnerable scenario development

· Off-site plan

· Mock trials

· Review

· Mutual aid scheme

k) COMMUNICATION / TRANING

· Safety communication

· Safety committee

· Warning signs / posters

· Information sharing

· Training program (Safety / Fire / First Aid)

· Motivation

4.0 TECHNICAL SYSTEMS

a) DESIGN

· Design documentation

· Codes and standards adopted

· Updating of documents

· Plant modifications

· Identification of vessels, pipelines etc.

b) OPERATION

· Operating procedures

· Training of personnel

· Operational safety consideration

c) MAINTENANCE

· Maintenance procedures

· Inspection of vessels / equipment / pipelines- condition monitoring

· History cards

· Job safety analysis

· Electrical area classification

· Safety protective (Relief valves, rupture disks, trip systems etc._

· Corrosion an monitoring

· Codes and standards

· Compliance

d) PERSONAL PROTECTION

· Area classification

· Work area toxic

· Noise

· Personal protective equipment

· Employee health monitoring

5.0 HUMAN FACTOR

a) COMMUNICATION

· Type of union / relationship

· Labor problems

· Communication on safety issues

· Participation in safety

b) TRAINING

· Safety training programs

· Frequency

· Contents

· Prticipation

· Effectiveness evaluation

c) MOTIVATION

· Suggestion schemes

· Award / penalties

· Competition

d) REVIEW PROCESS

· Review of safety

· Participants review

· Improvement plans

6.0 FACILITY SAFETY AUDIT

Visit site to assess physically the safety status including housekeeping.

A safety audit well executed, and follow-up safety measures religiously adopted would spontaneously result in achieving a healthy index of the factory. A safety index is the ratio of the safety status of the previous year and the current year. This index would be less than 1. The more a factory is concerned about the safety, occupational health of its employees and the environment upkeep, the less and healthier would be the safety index.