The construction industry is among the most hazardous industries to work in as the number of deaths in the industry exceeds 20 per day. Only a regular exchange between foremen, workers and safety training providers on how to use personal protective equipment (PPE) will lead to a safer working environment for workers across construction sites in India, says Kavita Nigam.
All workers should feel safe where they work. Being safe at work is a right and not a privilege. This means that however hazardous a person's job, they should be provided with safety equipment and training that makes them feel secure. Certainly, some jobs are far more hazardous than others and those who do them face a greater risk of injury than the average worker does. Such workers must be trained and equipped so that they can work safely.
The Indian construction industry
The construction industry is the second largest industry in India employing approximately 3.2 crore people. It is also amongst the most hazardous industries to work in as the number of deaths in the industry exceeds 20 per day. While construction sites all across India have some safety measures in place to keep workers safe, many such measures are inadequate to ensure the safety of such workers. This is because even employers who equip their workers with the right safety equipment often do not provide their employees with the training needed to use such equipment correctly.
The need for training is crucial
Across Indian construction sites, workers are equipped with safety equipment such as safety helmets, safety gloves, and safety goggles. However, even seemingly simple PPE such as these must be worn properly if they are to serve theirpurpose. Although many contractors in India teach workers how to correctly wear such PPE and how to inspect them regularly, many others do not, defeating the purpose of equipping workers with such equipment.
Safety helmets, safety gloves, and safety goggles are relatively simple pieces of equipment, other PPE such as fall arrest systems are more sophisticated and must only be used by workers after proper training. Today on many construction sites in India there is a growing need to equip workers with fall arrest equipment. Although the relatively high cost of such PPE makes it uneconomical for many smaller contractors to equip their workers with fall arrest equipment, most largecontractors usually do provide their workers with such equipment. However, equipping workers with fall arrest equipment is only one aspect of ensuring workers are safe working at a height; training workers is just
The sophistication of fall arrest equipment
Fall Arrest Equipment has three components which are the anchor, body harness, and connecting device. All three must be used together to keep workers at a height safe. The anchor is simply what a worker attaches to; it holds his weight in case of a fall. A body harness is worn by the worker and is connected to the anchor using the connecting device. Knowing how to use all three pieces of equipment at a height requires training. Training is also required to calculate a safe fall distance- the distance a worker will fall to before being suspended by the fall arrest equipment. Workers will also need to be trained on how to rescue a suspended worker from a height. All this makes it essential for the construction industry to not just equip workers with fall arrest equipment, but also to train workers on how to use such equipment.
Good fall arrest training is ongoing
It is also crucial for employers in the construction industry to know that training workers on how to use fall arrest equipment is not a static process. It is an ongoing process during which new workers who join a workforce should also be trained on how to use such PPE. This ongoing process must also allow construction workers and their foremen to interact regularly with those who provide them with PPE and with those who provide training on how to use PPE. Only a regular exchange between foremen, workers and safety training providers on how to use PPE will lead to a safer working environment for workers across construction sites in India.
The safety track record
While the safety track record in India is on the whole an unexceptional one, it is gradually improving as more and more companies as
well as individuals realize that safer and better-trained workers are more productive. Complementing this emergence of more productive and better-trained workers, particularly in the construction sector, are Indian companies who manufacture the highest quality PPE and provide training on how such PPE must be used.
About the Author:
Kavita Nigam is the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at KARAM Industries - one of the leading manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) in India.