What are the potential hazards that have to be guarded against in the process of cement and concrete manufacturing?
Approximately 10 per cent of workers employed in concrete manufacturing suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses in India. Workers' eyes, skin, and respiratory tracts are directly exposed to cement dust. When the skin comes in contact with cement dust it may become moderately irritated due to thickening and development of cracks, or suffer severe damage from chemical burns. Furthermore, workers exposed to silica may suffer from lung disorders such as silicosis and even lung cancer due to long term exposure. Exposure to wet concrete also causes skin irritation which might lead to first, second, or third-degree chemical burns. The presence of hexavalent chromium, used in the cement manufacturing process poses a serious threat to the skin. There is also a risk of hazard to the workers while loading/unloading material, which in India is still a manual activity. This in turn also poses a high risk of passive/active fall from height.
What are the safety measures the cement companies have to take in their plants?
To ensure workers' safety while working in cement plants, they should primarily be equipped with suitable respirators. Doing so prevents the inhalation of cement dust. Workers should also eat and drink only in areas where there is no dust to prevent ingestion of dust particles. They should be educated to rinse their eyes immediately with soap and water in case of contact with cement dust at any time.
While working with wet cement, they should be equipped with suitable gloves, workwear that has long sleeves and long pants, waterproof workwear boots, and suitable safety spectacles. Workers who are engaged in chipping and cleaning operations, should be equipped with suitable eye and face protection equipment at all time. While working at heights, the use of temporary or permanent fall protection systems should be mandatory.
What is the equipment you are making for improving the safety in cement manufacturing environment?
KARAM offers the highest quality of personal protective equipment from head to toe to ensure worker's safety in a wide range of industrial set ups. Safety spectacles manufactured by KARAM are ideal for use in cement manufacturing environment as they are highly abrasion resistant. They are suitable to be worn in areas where the cement dust concentration is high. We also offer safety shoes with properties of oil/acid resistance and slip resistance. Our range of ear plugs and ear muffs are suitable to be used in the areas where noise pollution is an issue. In addition to that we offer fall protection equipment like harnesses, lanyards and temporary and permanent lifeline systems to protect the worker in case of a fall from height. All products manufactured by KARAM Industries are fully certified to the IS as well as the stringent EN (European) and ANSI (American) standards, produced under strict quality parameters.
What are the measures cement companies have to take to guard manpower against dust, heat, particles and noise pollution?
Respirators are ideal to protect workers against dust and particles found in cement manufacturing plants. To prevent workers' exposure to dust particles, they should be equipped with protective eyewear and protective gloves. Noise pollution in cement manufacturing facilities can be minimised using earplugs and earmuffs. It is essential to educate the workers on the importance of the use of PPE in their respective work environment. Worker education and safety awareness is the first step to implement any positive measure in an industrial set up.
What is the level of hazard communication followed in the Indian cement industry and how it compares with the international best practices?
Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) is an effective measure of worker safety. The lower the LTIFR, the safer workers are in a manufacturing facility. Leading Indian cement manufacturers have an LTIFR that is favourable to that found in the western countries. Hence leading Indian cement manufacturers with a low LTIFR follow international best practices. As evidence, consider that the LTIFR of Indian cement manufacturers is lower than that set by the Mineral Products Association in the UK. However, the LTIFR of smaller, less well-known cement manufacturers is hard to ascertain and almost certainly is higher than that of the largest players in the industry. In all likelihood small and less well-known cement manufacturers do not adhere to the highest safety standards, hence their safety standards are not aligned with international best practices.
What is the level of accident reporting standards adopted in India in comparison with global benchmarks? How we can bridge the gap?
Large well-established cement manufacturers take safety seriously. The largest Indian cement manufacturers enjoy an LTIFR of less than one while that set by the Mineral Products Association in the UK is 1.69. Hence workers in the largest Indian cement manufacturing facilities work in a very safe environment. A caveat, however, is that many injuries and accidents in India go unreported. In developed countries there are mechanisms in place to address workers grievances; in India, these are nearly absent.Hence there is certainly a gap in the number of accidents that occur and the number reported; this can be bridged by enacting legislation that protects workers and holds employers more accountable for workplace injuries. More stringent labour laws that emphasise the need for workers safety should be enacted and workers must be made aware of their rights. When workers know there is a practical legal course of action they can take when they are injured, it will lead to more workers reporting workplace injuries.
What are the benefits that high safety standards bring in for a corporate entity?
There are innumerable benefits to having high safety standards. First and foremost a corporate entity that follows the highest standards of safety has a far lower injury and accident rate than compared to others. Workers at such sites are safe which in itself is invaluable.
Also when a site adheres to the highest possible safety standards, those working at such sites are likely to remain longer with their employer. Hence high safety standards translate to loyal employees who are happier and more productive than employees working in sites where high standards of safety are absent. More skilled employees are also likely to work in entities that adhere to high safety standards, hence such entities attract a more productive workforce.
Is there a concept called "Total Safety Management, and if yes, what are its components?
Yes, this concept exists. "Total Safety Management" is a performance-oriented approach involving an entire organisation's effort to establish and maintain a healthy and safe working environment. It is superior to traditional safety management programs that are centric exclusively on technical requirements with their eye only on short term results. Unlike Total Safety Management which ensures that the entire organisation focuses on safety, traditional safety management programs tend to be isolated and poorly if at all integrated with safety within an entire company.
The components of Total Safety Management are follows:
Are there any estimates on savings due to high standard of safety measures at the national and global levels?
In the United States, employers pay nearly $1 billion a week to workers as direct worker compensation costs. Such workers suffered disabling work injuries and illnesses. It is estimated in the US that each injury prevented, saves employers $37,000 in lost time while each occupation fatality avoided, saves employers $1,390,000. There are other benefits as well to creating a safe working environment. In the US, investors have found that not investing in companies that lack adequate safety measures produces higher returns. Hence many investors overlook such companies when creating a stock portfolio. Also, 60 per cent of CFOs in the US reported that every $1 invested in preventing injury provided a return of $2 or more. Indian metrics such as those available for the US are frugal, yet domestic trends are similar to those in the US. These are powerful incentives to invest in higher safety standards.