We have all seen the extreme dangers of operating a chemical or a polymer facility from close quarters at various points in time. Occasional accidents, ranging from those with minor implications to those with far-reaching consequences including fatalities, seem to crop up inspite of the ever-increasing safety practices. While it is true that the awareness and cognizance to safety is on the rise and preparedness levels are also getting significantly better, the sheer scale on which many new industries operate and the complexity of their operations places much higher demands in this context. The recent incidents in China are a rude reminder towards the same. Not only are we talking of loss of human life and property of significant value, it also has major repercussions on the supply chain with key raw materials being lost and invaluable production losses.
For an industry like ours which deals with petrochemicals and other chemicals, this is a ticking bomb, unless we are able to weave in a marked improvement in safety practices into not only in our operations, but also our core work culture. The convenient and age-old assumption that this is a malaise that affects only the smaller players has been disproven with the extremely recent fire occurrence at one of the facilities of the leading paint company in our country.
Fire Hazards, though a major consideration in the ambit of Safety, are not the only consideration in this game. Worker safety in terms of their access, material handling and also prolonged exposure to hazardous substances, are also important factors. Even simple healthy laboratory practices and standard operating procedures on the shop-floor, if defined correctly and taken in the right spirit for adoption by all, can go a long way in this direction of Occupational Safety. Likewise, similar considerations for the surrounding in terms of the local population and environment must be put in place.
While it is true that we are growing admirably as an industry and contributing our mite to nation-building, this sense of pride and achievement will be rendered incomplete if we cannot embrace this culture of Safety. After all, no industry or society in the modern world can build its fortunes on a base that compromises on Safety and human life.