Aug 05
Digital Safety First!
Digital Safety First!
Long before the idea of workplace safety evolved to take in its fold the added elements of Environment and Health and the sacred trinity otherwise known as EHS was formalised as a corporate imperative, L&T swore by the virtues of safety. Whether it was a shop floor, a campus, or a faraway project site, for the Company, employee safety was a non-negotiable. At a time when other organisations still dealt with incidents on an ad-hoc basis, L&T and its constituent businesses had already in place well-defined policies and clear prescriptions to guide them through. Back when others were evangelizing safety to the C-suits, L&T business heads here were already making a push for “zero incident” workplaces. In other words, when it came to safety L&T was always a step ahead of the rest and led the conversation. Its steadfast commitment to the discipline meant that in the last few years even as digitalization reconfigured the shop floor and industrial operations, L&T kept up this lead and remained at the forefront of utilising digital technology to enhance employee safety across the work environment.

L&T CEO & MD Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, one of the earliest proponents of digitalisation in L&T, viewed it as a potential differentiator. Not just from a competitive standpoint but also in terms of it helping deliver projects more safely and thereby driving significant cost savings and operational efficiency. In fact, even before he took the reins of Group, Mr. Subrahmanyan as the Head of the L&T Construction made a strong push for different businesses within Construction to digitalize various aspects of their operations, including safety.
Given that L&T had other businesses seemingly far riper for digitalization viz., engineering, manufacturing, power, it was somewhat incongruous that the Group’s largest business should test the digital safety waters first. This is not to say that the idea of digitalizing L&T Construction wasn’t a valid one. Far from it, it simply means that other businesses where digital technologies could’ve been deployed just as well if not more readily, could have taken the lead. But such was the strength of Mr. Subrahmanyan’s conviction that L&T Construction strode out on the digital path first.
First ones out of the gates, teams from different L&T Construction businesses devised a four-pronged approach for implementing digital initiatives that would go on to positively impact the EHS function. The teams identified creating awareness around safety and educating stakeholders about the importance of digitalization for a positive buy-in as a key strategy for creating safer workplaces. This was followed by encouraging process compliance aimed at creating paperless work environments and capturing all the safety related information – from incident reporting to redressal – online. The third piece involved devising ways of tracking workmen – using digital technologies – and keeping them out of unsafe work zones while the fourth and perhaps the most ambitious component of this strategy focused on creating a ‘Connected Workman’.
This well-thought-out effort to digitalise safety saw Construction businesses deploy everything from online portals for incident management to mobile based safety apps to technologies like RFID and CCTV surveillance for tracking workers across project sites to deploying Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR) and even experiment with ‘Smart’ Wearables.
At Heavy Civil Infra (HCI) sites for instance, the EHS team developed safety training modules based on AR/VR which offered workers a “very real” experience of working safely at heights and familiarised them with the risks involved and the precautions they needed to take to avoid and overcome an emergency. At Transportation Infrastructure (TI) business, wireless technologies based on RFID, BLE and LoRa are being used to not only ensure safety but understand workmen behaviour and productivity. Then there are dedicated mobile apps for safety which help managers keep track of safety performance on an ongoing basis.
At Building & Factories (B&F) business, managers, engineers and even supervisors are given scores based on their safety performance and other activities. Those with lower scores are counselled and provided training to improve their EHS responsiveness. Besides, Web-enabled incident reporting and management, available to managers and on-site personnel has further helped streamline safety processes and hastened incident resolution.
Digitalisation of safety at L&T Construction and the early successes there spurred Company’s non-Construction business into action and resulted in a wave of safety-focused digital transformation initiatives.
For L&T Heavy Engineering, EHS performance has a direct bearing on its business prospects. According to Ketan Kumar Mistry, EHS, Hazira, it’s something that most of their clients look at before finalising an order. It is no wonder then that the business has come to view EHS as a core value and remains fully committed to the goal of ‘Zero Accident’ at the workplace. During 2018-19, a period Mistry refers to as the ‘Year of Digitalisation’, the business formed a ‘Digital Cell’ and brought in a ‘Chief Digital Officer’.

EHS as a function has been a major participant in the digitalization process, Mistry says. One of the first things the business did was improve ‘Reported Safety Concerns’ (RSC). The digital team helped the EHS team to modify the existing process flow, so as to give access to shop floor supervisors on mobile devices through “SMART OFFICER” app using which workers can view the status of RSCs raised by them on the kiosk placed on the shop floor.
The team also developed a ‘Safety Inspection System’ to maintain inventory and account for safety tools and equipment such as Fire Extinguishers, Lifting Gears and Air compressors. QR codes are generated and slapped on each piece of equipment for better traceability. The team is currently planning to develop an online accident statistics module, a Permit to Work system and a system dedicated to Incident Management.
Surendra Jagtap, Head, HSE, L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering, has plenty to show for his efforts around digitalisation of safety at L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering (LTHE). Over the past couple of years, with Jagtap at the helm of EHS affairs, the business has undertaken a slew of initiatives leveraging digitalization to improve the overall EHS performance. Specific examples include: AR/VR Apps for Worker Training, deployment of a HSE Credibility Rating System & App for Hazard Reporting, Mobile App for Reporting Unsafe Acts and Unsafe Conditions, and another app called Suraksha for Calculating Sling Tension, Safe Working Load etc. for LTHE Construction Services.
Detailing the mobile app for reporting unsafe acts or dangerous conditions, Jagtap says that the app - called Safety Buddy – allows all LTHE employees whether at offices or stationed at project sites to bring unsafe acts or hazardous conditions to everyone’s notice. It allows users to upload, among other details voice recordings and pictures as evidence. Instantly available to users, the app lets them alert the area manager or HSE in-charge of the location directly for remedial action.

The EHS team is now in the process of scaling up some of these initiatives to cover entire LTHE. Besides, it has identified a number of activities for future implementation such as Rollout of Electronic Permit to Work (e-PTW); Worker Tracking at Offshore and Yards; Incident Reporting Action Tracking and Monitoring System; CCTV Surveillance at sites; Realtime Dashboard for HSE Statistics; and Using Smart Glass / Head Mounted Tab (HMT) for Remote Support.

Over at L&T Power, things are no less exciting. Ajay Mathur, Head of EHSCC claims with pride the fact that the business’ EHS Management Systems have been developed, implemented, and are on par with International Standards such as ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007.

As part of an Integrated Web-based EHS portal, an online NC (Non-Conformity) Tracker for HNM (Hazard & Near-Miss) Reporting & Compliance has been deployed. Available on Web and also as an Android app the tracker ensures seamless reporting and assigning HNM instances from daily EHS inspection, RCM walk down, EHS Committee meetings, and joint inspections. It allows users to upload data and gives access to its status in real-time with a provision for multiple analysis of the observation uploaded. The feature is extended in the form of an executive dashboard for further management reviews.

Another module built inside L&T Power’s EHS portal enables review of work-stoppage instances and calculation of accident costs. Using the tool, project managers are not only able to accurately determine the impact of any untoward safety incidents in terms of project delays but also ascertain the cost of any such lapses. The total time lost and the associated cost is automatically calculated vis-à-vis the idle resources on account of work stoppage.
The portal has plenty of other useful features such as an Incident Management System for reporting, investigation and analysis, and a Sustainability Reporting System which using data and the evidence that’s fed into the system offers insights on the efficacy of the overall EHS measures.

The EHS team pays equal attention to imparting safety training on the workmen. For its VR based Safety Training module it has developed 20 films addressing 10 critical to safety themes. These films aren’t your standard, run of mill safety films laden with animation. Rather they are live action films shot on actual EPC sites. The VR based films are dubbed in 5 languages viz. English, Hindi, Bangla, Tamil and Telegu to make them more accessible. More than 10,000 workmen have already seen these videos since its launch in August, 2018.

When it comes to safety, L&T Shipbuilding at Kattupalli, has a rather unique distinction. It recently became the only shipyard in the country to have been accorded the coveted Five-Star rating by the British Safety Council. While the endorsement already speaks volumes of Shipbuilding’s robust health, safety and environment management systems and practices, the business also benefits  from an executive commitment to safety which starts right at the top.

Digitalisation according to Shipbuilding’s Head of EHS P. Senthilnathan, has allowed it to keep a constant vigil and strengthen occupational health and safety policies, processes, and practices.  A number of aspects of Shipbuilding’s Health and Safety operations are digitalized. This includes the EHS Portal which acts as a central system through which all the EHS activities whether it’s incident reporting and reviews, adhering to compliances or management reviews are orchestrated. Further, the EHS team has integrated the Gate Entry Management System and the employee bio-metric attendance system with the portal for ready & accurate reckoning of man-hours clocked in the shipyard. Besides, an RFID-based manpower tracking functionality which monitors the personnel working on-board vessels is also available to the EHS team.

One of the major challenges for L&T Shipbuilding is its heavy reliance on subcontracted labour which is often transitory in nature and in need of fair amount of training and sensitization towards safety. The business is taking the digital route to not just strengthen Incident investigation & Action tracking system by taking it online, but also plans to use digitalization to train and educate workers on safety.

Safety is a key metric for business success at L&T’s Construction & Mining Machinery Business. So much so that it has christened its EHS management portal ‘SAFAL’, a Hindi word for ‘Success’. According to SS Prabhakara, DGM - Safety, Product Support Department, HSE plays an important role in CMB’s business and is guided by a philosophy of Product Safety, People Safety and Place Safety (i.e. Service Centers & Sites).

Last year, as part of its larger digitalization agenda, CMB undertook a series of initiatives on the EHS side. These included setting up SAFAL (short for Safe & Accident Free Always). It consists of provision for data entry, EHS management documents, data analysis and safety performance assessment. The portal also houses news related to EHS and training material and can be accessed through a web browser from anywhere in the field. Besides the portal, the business has installed CCTV cameras to keep a close eye on activities across all its Service Centers, made available popular tools such as WhatsApp for information dissemination and is soon planning to launch safety training by using virtual reality tools.

The use of digital tools will enable us to respond faster and more effectively to the safety issues of customers and initiate action to mitigate the same.

The degree to which digitalisation is reshaping industrial operations today – with rarely a process left untouched by it – it was only a matter of time before safety turned digital too. Having anticipated this trend and begun the transformation journey ahead of time, L&T has ensured for itself a comfortable lead over others on the digital maturity curve. It knew the end game. That the benefits of digitalising safety weren’t just about preventing accidents on the shop floor. Rather it was about creating efficient work spaces, enhancing productivity, lowering operating costs, improving its standing among stakeholders, propagating greater sustainable growth and so much more.
There's more to digital safety than meets the eye.

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