A training workshop was organised by National Mission for Clean Ganga on 17th June 2022 on ‘Occupational Health and Safety Audit (OHSA)’ at New Delhi. Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General, NMCG presided over the workshop which was attended by stakeholders and contractors from the states and officials of the World Bank & NMCG. Among the contractors who participated in the event and gave presentations on ‘Specific Safety Measures taken at STP and Sewerage Network Construction Sites and Operating Facilities’ were LEA Associates South Asia, Toshiba Water, Voltas Limited, L&T Infrastructure, VA Tech Wabagh and Shapoorji Pallonji. Two technical sessions were also organised including ‘Key Risks and Mitigation Strategies in Sewerage Treatment Plants and Networks’ during the Construction and Operation Phase.
Giving the inaugural address, Shri G. Asok Kumar, DG, NMCG expressed his happiness that the workshop is being organised “on a very important aspect which is usually ignored in the rush of things.” He said that National Mission for Clean Ganga takes the safety of the workers, who toil hard to complete the projects, very seriously and is committed to take care of them. “All lives matter to us and every individual has the right to live a dignified and a healthy life,” he added.
Sharing experiences from his own life, he said that steps taken in the direction of ensuring safety of workers have a direct impact on the progress of the work. “During my tenure as DM, Kadapa in 2005, a school was made for the children of the workers who were constructing a very big medical college completed in the district. We provided free accommodation, food and coaching for all the children and then ensured their safety and comfort. It was a surprise to see that the work output increased dramatically as the workers, especially women, who always were worried about the safety of their children moving around on the workplace, could now work freely. They doubled their shift and the project was completed earlier than expected.”
Shri Kumar reiterated that complete safety of the workers should be ensured and any mishap must be avoided. He hoped that OSHA would prove beneficial in terms of learning from each other’s experiences. Namami Gange is one of the most prestigious projects of the country, he added, and it should be ensured that workers are also treated well and face no safety or health hazards during the execution of the work. He also said that India has now reached a stage when such steps should be taken on our own behest, rather than nudged by someone else.
Mr. Asferechu Abate, Senior Environment Specialist, the World Bank, made a presentation on ‘Operational Health and Safety Second National Ganga River Basin Plan’ and threw light on major occupational health and safety issues. He shared some statistics related to leading causes of occupational fatalities and construction safety. He suggested that knowledge, commitment, allocation of resources, organised approach, leadership and participation of workers and regular training are some ways through which accidents can be reduced. He said that we all should join our hands to improve occupational health and safety.
The objective of OSHA is to assure safe and healthful conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing safe working standards and providing training, public outreach, education and compliance assistance. OHS management is a process of continual improvement. A proper OHS system requires good planning for OHS practices, risk assessment, training, user friendly interface, proper communication and timely reporting of incidents.
It was emphasized in the workshop that the employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers must provide their workers with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and must follow all OSHA safety and health standards. During the workshop, details of OHS practices required as per World Bank’s safeguard policy were also discussed. After the training, a small quiz and discussion forum was also conducted. A short film on OSHA was screened during the event and a monthly newsletter – Safety, Environment and Health News – published by Voltas in Bihar was also released by DG, NMCG.