18 May 2013
Every employee at Essar Energy is considered to be a ‘Safety Officer’. Reflecting this spirit, all company and contractor employees are trained not just in operational safety measures, but also in fire-fighting.
Focus on safety at Essar Energy is concentrated on safety in processes and personal safety. In an industry where fire hazard is a constant, as much in its oil vertical as the electricity generation business, there is heightened attention to fire prevention, detection and fighting. Remarkably, the oil vertical observes about 3,500 standards for operating procedures to ensure safe work.
Concern for safety is extended to issues of health, which is considered a matter of personal safety. But Essar Energy addresses health matters not only of regular employees but also of those employed by contractors. Thus, a safety culture is inculcated through constant awareness-building through films, offline and online messaging, recognizing ‘safety champions’, incentives for near-miss reporting and endorsing time-out for exhaustion.
Training for safety
Training in safety and health measures is a crucial part of the induction process. Every new employee has to undergo five days of mandatory training in safety within the first month of joining. Among the mandated training are: Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Project (OSEMP) training, fire-fighting and training for Permit to Work certification. Authorization to work is given only after successful completion of a test. Specialists also conduct training in emergency response, electrical safety, the international Occupational Health and Safety Standards (OHSAS) 18001 management system, hazards identification (HAZ-ID), risk assessment and defensive driving, among others. All training programs are conducted for employees as well as contract workers.
Regular health check-ups are conducted for all employees and contract workers — at intervals of six months for those in hazardous jobs and every year for those in non-hazardous jobs. Refresher training sessions are also held periodically for all staff.
Special training is imparted for high-risk activities like working in confined spaces or at heights; the Essar Oil vertical also conducts special sessions in handling materials such as hydrogen sulphide and other chemicals.
Regular internal audits and an annual external audit of safety measures are conducted as well as monthly management reviews and inter-site audits. Audits as per the requirements of the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) are regularly conducted for the oil vertical.
These audits and reviews contribute to periodic studies on safety integrity levels (SIL) and, for the oil vertical in particular, studies leading to quantitative risk analyses (QRA) and evaluations.
There is strict monitoring of the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as the safety helmet, safety shoes, safety goggles, ear plugs and hand gloves. Line managers also conduct ‘Safety Rounds’ every day; this is in addition to round-the-clock video surveillance, which is connected to an online security watch system. For protection against fire, all Essar Energy plants are strictly ‘no smoking’ zones.
Innovation for safety
Trial and testing of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a serious activity at Essar Power, where safety is accorded as much importance in all processes as efficiency. Not too long ago, improved safety shoes were procured after testing — including field testing — a variety of shoes over a three-month period by several different employees. Currently, similar trials are ongoing for improved safety helmets.
At another level of innovation, the organization instituted online reporting of near-miss situations on its portal for health, safety and environment (HSE) matters. This has significantly improved near-miss reporting as well as suggestions for increased safety. This is in use across all Essar Power plants and locations.
Mandated safety features
The mandatory laws, rules and guidelines for the power sector in India, include:
- OISD guidelines for the design of plants and systems
- State-specific Factory Act and Rules
- State and Central Electrical Safety Rules
- Indian Boiler Regulation Rules
- Guidelines for storage of explosive materials
- Gas Cylinder Rules
- Petroleum Act
- MSIHC Rules, 1989
- Hazardous Waste Management and Handling Rules
- Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules.