When it comes to Safety, we ask ourselves some really tough questions. Why should zero harm just be our number one priority, why can't it be our second nature? Why should the virtue of wellness just be taught to our employees, why can't it be extended to their families?
Due to the inherent characteristics of its operations, the natural resource industry is continuously grappling with Safety & Occupation Health risks; and so are we. This challenge compounds in a geographically diverse business like ours, where attitude towards health and safety vary. But we are determined to foster a culture of Zero Harm by seeding a string of concerted interventions which include adherence to international best practices, deployment of robust infrastructure and institutionalisation of safety ownership at every level of the organisation - from boardroom to shop floor.
Our business engages massive amount of human capital and our efforts on Occupation Health & Safety are manifold. Our health and safety approach is guided by Group Safety Standard which applies to all Vedanta business units and managed operations. We guard our workforce at all times, shield them from every small danger, screen all our contractors for safety requisites and remain ready to mitigate untoward incidents. Over the years, a steady incline has been observed in the effectiveness of our safety systems. All businesses are implementing the safety performance standards and audits were initiated this year.
The average score was 51% with significant improvements shown later in the year. The Group Safety Performance Standards are enabling normalisation of best practices across all our operations. Despite our best intentions and actions, we still had the misfortune of facing fatalities in FY 2015-16. This has only further steeled our safety resolve. We are now more rigorous in assessing job hazards and are translating risk mitigation plans to practice with a fanatic zeal.  
periodic medical
man-hours of safety training
FY 2014-15: 756,000
Our aim is to thrive together. High employee productivity should be a by-product of safer work environment and superior occupational health practices.
Safeguarding the well-being of our workforce is our highest priority. The goal is to entrench a Zero Harm culture across businesses by ushering in a paradigm shift in the way safety is perceived and practised at Vedanta.This drive to embed 'safety' as a value system is helmed by our senior management. Our Chairman as well as our CEO fiercely advocate Zero Harm culture by personally engaging with employees on a regular basis. Safety & Occupational Health are prime elements of the Vedanta Sustainability Assurance Programme.
To ensure that our safety values trickle down, we enthuse, educate and encourage every member of our workforce to embrace safety wholeheartedly. Safety & Occupational Health is a mandatory module in our HR training programme and periodic workshops are conducted to enhance safety awareness and knowledge among employees and contractors.
100% of our total workforce is represented in formal joint management-worker health & safety committee.
Over and above our businesses, our subsidiaries too run robust on-site training programmes for both employees and contract workforce. To boost accountability, the progress on implementation of safety performance standards and prevention of fatalities is directly linked to employee remuneration. Our senior management including Sustainability and Executive Committees regularly review our safety performance and share recommendations.
All our units have safety committees comprising members from the management as well as unionised workforce. The Committee meets on a regular basis to advise on occupational health and safety improvement. In case of operations where unions have not been formed, we have setup a monthly meeting mechanism that involves principal contractor and sub-contractors to discuss specific HSE issues.
In order to transform our Zero Harm goal into reality, a set of benchmarks, standards and frameworks have been institutionalised across our units. These safety enablers lend momentum to our safety drive.
International Good Practices
The journey to excellence begins with benchmarking. We set our safety standards at par with local and international benchmarks including OHSAS 18001. Currently, 48 of our 52 sites are OHSAS 18001 certified and we aim to bring this tally to 100% by next year. In order to make our good practices better, we have adopted a systematic 'Plan-Do-Check-Act' approach that helps us evaluate our systems and evolve continuously. Several review mechanisms like monthly meetings, safety alerts and leadership audits are in place to monitor and manage the compliance status at every stage of the project life cycle.
Group Safety Performance Standards
Going beyond benchmarking industry standards, we have also charted our own standards on high risk areas identified as material risks in our operations. Firstly, to address safety challenges unique to our operations. Secondly, to manage the safety outcomes of our diverse businesses through one common yardstick. Our Safety Performance Standards span six critical areas:
Work at Height | Isolation | Electrical Safety | Ground Control Confined Space Entry | Vehicles & Driving
Complementing these six specific standards, are our two Technical Standards that govern Occupational Health Management and Safety Management in a broader context.
In the reporting year, we went beyond our call of duty and helped one of our neighbouring business company near HZL operation in averting a potential disaster. On April 2016, when ammonia gas leaked out of an ice factory at Sunderwas - Udaipur, a densely populated area which also has a gas station nearby, the regulatory factory inspector requested the HZL team to support the local administration. Immediately, our safety head pressed into action a disaster management plan and successfully arrested the fast-spreading leakage. This incident management has not only made us proud but confident that we have systems in place to avoid any catastrophic incident.
Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment Metrics
We have a structured review mechanism to ensure identification, analysis, mitigation and monitoring of safety risks on a continual basis. Our key areas of risk and their mitigation levers can be summarised as follows:
Capability Building
Systems and processes are only as good as the people who implement them. Hence, apart from focussing on best-in-class systems and standards, we also invest heavily on building capabilities of our people towards safety & occupational health. In FY 2015-16, over 757,000 hours of safety training were delivered to employees and contractors on subjects including working at height, permit to work, job safety analysis, first aid, incident reporting, safe behaviour and falls. We also focussed on building a strong understanding of Vedanta Safety Performance Standards and Incident Investigation among our people.
757,718 training man-hours | 100% periodical medical examination
Emergency Responsiveness
All our operations have robust emergency response plans in place, which are tested and maintained in collaboration with potentially-affected parties, as required by our Emergency & Crisis Management Technical Standard.
In order to ensure effective implementation of these plans, resources have been dedicated to respond to crisis and emergency situations. Preparedness drills and training exercises are also carried out on a periodic basis involving our employees as well as external emergency response organisations and other relevant external stakeholders to strengthen the skills. A communication system has also been deployed at each operation to take care of prompt disbursement of information to various stakeholders, such as alerting local community and neighbouring businesses in the event of an emergency that poses potential risks for them, sharing information to the media and interacting with other relevant stakeholders like government representatives.
In the reporting year, we went beyond our call of duty and helped one of our neighbouring business company near HZL operation in averting a potential disaster. On April 2016, when ammonia gas leaked out of an ice factory at Sunderwas - Udaipur, our safety team pressed into action a disaster management plan and successfully arrested the fast-spreading leakage. This action has not only made us proud but confident of our systems in place to avoid any catastrophic incident.
We marked an overall declining trend in injury rates with the Group's Lost Time Injuries reducing 10% from 115 in FY 2014-15 to 103 in FY 2015-16. We posted 3,476 man-days lost this year, a 35% reduction from last year.
All of our sites conducted pre and post medical examinations for their staff, both permanent employees and contract workforce, and we didn't observe any significant / major occupational diseases at our operating sites.
LTIFR per mn man-hours worked
In the reporting year we revised our calculation definition in line with the recently released ICMM guidelines and reset the baseline. As per this new calculation method, this year's LTIFR rate stands at 0.50.
Regrettably in FY 2015-16 we experienced 12 fatalities - eight in India and four in Africa. Such incidents are unacceptable and each fatal incident has undergone an in-depth investigation. The main causes have been identified and preventive actions are being incorporated. Further the respective Company's Chief Executive Officer or Chief Operating Officer have presented a detailed appraisal of root causes to the Vedanta Sustainability Committee and updated them on the action plans in response.
Six fatal accidents were related to the below given critical areas
Ground Control
Vehicles & Driving
Working at Height
Periodic audits to ensure adherence to core elements of the Standards
The implementation of these standards is directly linked to an individual's remuneration to reinforce accountability across the Group
Four fatal accidents were related to
Failure of Physical Barrier
Unpredicted Equipment Failure
Criminal Attack
These hazards surfaced in unique areas and were not covered by the Standards. Hence a critical risk assessment process was rolled-out to identify and address emerging and critical risks
Two fatal accidents were related to
The two incidents highlighted the need to introduce a standard for blasting procedures and practices. Introduction of a forum to reinforce underground safety is also on the anvil. Both of these actions are being reviewed by our COO, Safety Forum
We are committed to ensure a culture of safety 'by design' and not 'by accident'. To fulfil Zero Harm commitment, we developed a structured incident identification and prevention approach comprising a slew of well thought-out interventions at every stage. These interventions can broadly be summarised as: Analysis, Adherence and Action.
Analysis To have an in-depth overview on the caveats that led to fatal accidents, we deployed an investigation technique called Event & Conditions (E&C) charting across Vedanta operations to know the root cause of the incidents and address them in order to avoid reoccurrence of such incidents. One of the needs of this analysis was capability building on investigation methodology and for which we trained around 40 employees. Other work hazard related training were done by the businesses.
Adherence Pivotal importance was placed on strengthening the implementation of our six safety standards with a 'must adhere to 100% of the standards, 100% of the time' practising philosophy.
Action We introduced Experience Based Quantification (EBQ) and Bowtie Analysis (BTA), enabling all our businesses to get a clear insight into potential high risk activities, associated hazards and effectiveness of its critical controls. Accordingly, each business can institutionalise key control measures and monitor hazard mitigation.
We also piloted a Making Better Risk Decision (MBRD) programme which will empower line leaders to make better decisions by foreseeing the risks relevant to their routine and non-routine work profile, and understanding the consequences associated with it.
We cannot undo the irreparable loss of our people, but we can ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. Mentioned below are key initiatives being undertaken to bolster our Zero Harm ambition:
Focussing on training to strengthen hazard-spotting skills, formal risk assessment processes, and risk based decision-making at the site-level
Developing internal capability to monitor and evaluate workplace occupational health exposures in addition to statutory reporting
Conducting additional Safety training exercises as part of the on-going work to improve safety performance and embed good practice safety culture, in line with the requirements of our Technical Standard: Competency, Training and Awareness
Implementing critical elements of our Safety Performance Standards across business units
We aim to coach 6,000 operational leaders across all sites - from the senior managers to front-line supervisors including key contractors.
From embedding the importance of safety in our employees to enhancing their ownership towards Zero Harm culture, from safeguarding them with state-of-the-art safety gear to arming them with tools of knowledge - we remain on a vigil to strengthen the safety quotient of Vedanta. Throughout the year, across business units and through a diversity of interventions, we pursued safety with rigour. Some of such initiatives are illustrated below:
Learning from Experience
All our site leaders at Hindustan Zinc conducted Safety Stand Downs to discuss and share lessons from incidents at various sites. The objective was to enhance adherence to safe working practices and safe behaviour among our workforce. In another such initiative, Sesa Iron Ore business conducted a safety awareness workshop which was attended by over 80 participants comprising Company employees, workmen representatives, contractors and service providers. The session enlightened the participants on various ways of working on safety checklists and ticking them off to practise safety. It stressed on the importance of 'return on training investment' and accountability in the workforce across varied functions.
Knowledge is Power
Safety videos featuring our employees were screened to affect behavioural change at Hindustan Zinc. These videos focus on safety interaction process plus lifesaving rules and are also used at sites to train new recruits. All our businesses have similar safety induction modules, designed specific to the nature of their operation.
Celebrating Safety
A series of activities and talks on safety were organised as part of Safety Day celebrations. These included firefighting, first aid, formal risk assessment, chemical, spill response and hazard hunt. Local contractors, employees and their family members participated enthusiastically in the celebrations. Road safety week was celebrated across all units to enhance awareness on road safety and defensive driving. Major activities included safety oath, safety interactions, rescue drills and safety contest.
Life Support during Emergencies
Hindustan Zinc Ltd. installed 'refuge chambers' in its Rampura Agucha underground mine to guard the safety of workers during emergency situations. Refuge chamber is a life support module capable of providing air for 36 hours. With this additional capacity, now there are four refuge chambers which can accommodate six people, and two chambers which can accommodate 20 people at the mine.
Tracking Vehicles Anytime, Anywhere
Fleet safety is one of the prime concerns in the mining industry. It is vital to monitor vehicle speed & administer consequence management system for the violators. We have thus installed GPS trackers in the heavy motor vehicles at Jharsuguda unit. The tracker provides key information like exact location of the vehicle, speed at which it is travelling, total distance covered and speed variation.
Single Point Accountability (SPA) is one of the driving forces of safety management at Sterlite Copper. A set of protocols, SPA is aimed at decentralising safety responsibility and encouraging individual accountability. Several awareness campaigns as well as reward mechanisms encourage employees to embrace SPA.
E-learning & Self-assessment
17 e-learning modules on safety, covering vast ranging topics such as forklift basics, chemical handling safety, electrical safety, were introduced in Hindi and English for the workforce of Hindustan Zinc Limited. Over and above being excellent self-learning tools, these modules are also perfect self-assessment platforms. A total of 26,582 people accessed these e-learning modules in the reporting period.
Think Before You Act
Cairn India has piloted a new programme 'RiSK' which encourages workers to stop and think before every task. The HSE thought leaders of Cairn and Vedanta have devised a very simple process to ensure that every job is done in the right manner, with the right tools. By answering the below three questions, one takes into account all potential risks associated with the job.
Ruko (STOP) What is the right way to do the job and what are the right tools?
Socho (THINK) What could go wrong and what will I/we do to prevent it?
Karo (DO) While doing the job has anything changed and do we need to stop and rethink?
In the reporting year, we witnessed successful roll-out of the programme in Cairn India's Petroleum Engineering function. Following the roll-out, the function has not had a single LTI compared to nine in the previous year.
At BALCO, we have always learnt to practise safety not only when we are working but also while we are travelling; not only for ourselves but for our family too.
Anil Shah | M/s Abhinav Constructions
We are equally committed to enhance the overall health quotient of our employees. This enables us to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and enhance retention. Due to the nature of our operations, there can be associated health risks and we are committed to understand, manage and mitigate these.
We have an occupational health centre manned with experts, at all major mines and smelters for regular health examination of direct and contract employees.
Each jurisdiction maintains its own Occupational Health Management System appropriate to the local context, while our Group approach is guided by a Global Health Management standard and is structured around three areas as elaborated below - Prevention, Monitoring and Support & Recovery.
  • First aid and occupational health training to employees and contractors
  • Health and wellness programmes including respiratory health, hearing conservation, eye checks and ergonomic surveys
  • Mandatory use of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Pollution control equipment, effluent treatment and the correct storage of hazardous chemicals
  • Screening for diseases particular to the location, for example HIV (Zambia), Ebola (Liberia) and Malaria (India and Zambia)
  • Training in healthy lifestyles, disease prevention and treatment
  • Investment in technologically advanced processes that reduce possible exposure levels; workplace monitoring
  • Baseline studies to identify key risks
  • Pre-employment medical checks and ongoing monitoring
  • Tests for noise, dust, heat exposure and silicosis
  • Continuous internal audit
  • Medical insurance for 100% of full-time employees whereas contract employees are covered either by employee state insurance or through Group insurance/workmen compensation
  • Stress management programmes for employees at risk and support and recovery programmes including yoga and training etc.
  • On-site and outreach health and disease treatment programmes for families of employees
We strive to keep our workplace free from occupational health risks and hygiene hazards. Our occupational health standard commits us to minimise the adverse impact of our operations on the health of our workforce. In this regard, all units monitor and manage key health risks. In a special initiative, we are revisiting our occupational health hygiene baseline assessments for our Aluminium and Copper operations.
The sites have already completed the stock of data information for the same and are gearing up for re-establishing baselines of employee exposure to harmful substances with an objective of performing beyond statutory requirements. We are also partnering with external experts to train our graduates in this arena. Going ahead, we aim to roll out this exercise across other operations of the Group.
As a responsible corporate, we are committed to contribute towards healthier lifestyles not just of our employees, but also of our employees' families, our service providers as well as the communities at large. All our units conduct medical camps and campaigns on a regular basis to reach out to the ailing patients of all age groups.
Hindustan Zinc conducted more than 200 such camps benefiting 22,000+ people from surrounding communities.
Sterlite Copper rolled-out an innovative health engagement programme called 'Suraksha Bandhan - bridging community through safety' wherein our teams visited the families of our contractors and interacted with them on matters of health and well-being. This not just enhanced their health awareness but also strengthened their confidence in us.
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