Do we need rethink the way we look at SAFETY?
With the advent of industrial revolution, manufacturing became more organized, more and more people were working in the factories, trying to make new products with new and evolving machines.
At the same time mobility was also getting more mechanized and swifter. All such factors led to a higher human & machine interaction which was relatively new and led to accidents and injuries.
Increasing incidence of injuries & casualties led the Companies, Governments and Society at large to take cognizance of importance of safety. Whilst Govts created laws and regulations, Organizations worked on machine & process improvements and safety culture and the Society at large embraced these changes.
All this led to safety becoming a virtue, a belief, a value, a key business metric and most importantly a cultural habit. So much so that nothing precedes it and safety concerns feature on the first slide of Executive Presentation of every manufacturing company. Zero is the only acceptable number with regards to safety incidents and is valued more than a blockbuster business performance.
Is our view on Safety Comprehensive?
– Do all organizations attach equal importance to safety on shop floor vs safety in office environment?
– Should office safety be limited to fire extinguishers and some caution markings on the floor?
– Should safety training be limited to a fire drill (even though the chances of occurrence are low) but not to a proper training on ergonomics where the incidence rates and severity are both high? Long term impact & a painful recovery!
– Should we only promote a culture where any unsafe machine or tool operation is flagged and reported but an improper sitting posture is ignored?
– Shouldn’t a musculoskeletal injury warrant equally intense remediation as that of a slip injury? An arm fracture due to slipping might get fixed in a few weeks but a slip disc can last for a lifetime and keep aggravating.
– Shouldn’t faulty workstation set up be flagged as potentially hazardous and unsafe machine?
Businesses realized long back that Human Capital is more precious than the Machines, and that gap is widening. Automation & technology are core elements of Industry 4.0 but most of this tech and automation will be developed, executed and managed sitting in offices or even on the move. Hence there is an immediate need to expand the safety horizon which looks beyond the manufacturing environment because with automation, human to machine interaction will reduce and so will the chances of traditional injuries & hazards. We are already witnessing a number of other musculoskeletal health hazards & injuries which indeed are safety concerns if we look at it that way
In essence, safety is about wellbeing and anything that adversely impacts wellbeing should be remediated.
The Businesses Now need to expand the horizon of safety and align it to the new realities.