While planning for the nation’s economic growth, the Govt of India is very focussed on the manufacturing industry. The recently announced concessions on corporate tax and PLI schemes for new manufacturing units is a clear indication of the same. Currently, the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP is 17% and the government is keen to take it to 25% in the next ten years.
Safety has been identified as an extremely important subject to deal with when the industry is on such ambitious growth path. Evolving technologies lead to the introduction of new products and materials being imported to support manufacturing in India, along with induction of new workers. All these parameters create risk factors and therefore, more attention is required to safety issues. Goods being transported from one place to another across the country involve risk factors. Inhabitation around manufacturing units is also exposed to risk if any untoward incident occurs in the industry. All these aspects are regularly deliberated on in the FICCI Task Force for Manufacturing Excellence, which has become a knowledge sharing platform for the industry.
The general observation is that safety aspect has been taken quite seriously by the industry. Any untoward incident affects continuity of business and reputation of the industry. Industry has become extremely sensitive and in most of the large corporations, safety performance has become a board room agenda. The results are also visible. While the number of persons working in industry must have doubled in last ten years, the number of fatalities has reduced year after year. The target, obviously, should be zero incident, zero loss of life and zero damage to capital assets. Industry must further strengthen their systems, keeping in mind the challenge posed by the behaviour of persons because of their background. On one side, industry must remove all unsafe conditions and on the other side employees must be trained to reduce unsafe acts.
We have launched an award programme, FICCI Safety Systems Excellence Awards & Conference for Industry: Safety & Well-being at workplace, to recognize the efforts of industry in safety. This year we received 92 applications, despite the pandemic and its effect on industry. The fact that industry is applying for an award shows its commitment to the safety aspect. This year we invited industries that adopted novel practices to ensure safety despite disruptions, to share their experience.
Safety being an important aspect of industry success needs attention of the top management. Sustainability of large companies depends on sustainability of their ancillaries and suppliers. Joint efforts will make sustainable industry and sustainable India.
The author is Chair, FICCI Taskforce on Manufacturing Excellence