Article (October-2016)


Case Analysis - Safety & Productivity to be treated equally

Bhaskar Dhariwal

Designation : -   Manager - HR & ER



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An organizational culture that supports safety is essential for the prevention of injuries and illness. Management systems and programs can provide an effective safety framework; however, it ultimately is the worker's perception of the value of safety to himself and the importance of safety to the organization that governs safety performance. 

   In a large organization like Arvind Engineering Company, a deep routed traditional work culture, which accords top priority to productivity over safety, is the major reason for high level of industrial accidents occurring in the factory premises.It seems that till the time Injury and illness rate at M/s Arvind, was below 4.8, the priority of management was Productivity, not Safety. Now, when it crossed the industry average, management started feeling the heat and importance of Safety.  

Organization with the manpower strength of 12500 need a strong culture of Safety and it is only possible if top management gives the priority to the safety, over & above Productivity of the organization. If management thinks that HR Manager can do the miracle without the involvement and positive intention of  Top Management, it is nearly impossible to achieve the target of reduction in Injury & Illness Rate. While introducing Productivity Linked incentives many organizations tend to forget, inclusion of safety as a parameters for achieving the high productivity. Linking Safety Parameters with the high Productivity Incentive schemes, creating the awareness regarding importance of safety among the workers is the only way to control the average injury and illness rate at M/s Arvind.

It becomes more complex and difficult, when you are going to change the culture of the organization, which is prevailing from long time and workers became habitual of the same, Workers of M/s Arvind are more focused towards Productivity Improvement and incentives linked with that, that is the major reason they are not ready to spent 10 minutes extra time for their own Safety. HR Manager,  Mr. Mithun Must take following actions with immediate effect, in order to improve the safety standards and making Workers& Union Office Bearers aligned towards Organizational Objective:

1.  First, it is important to recognize that organizational culture develops over the life of an organization. As many CEOs have found, culture is difficult to change quickly - if at all. Dr. Steve Simon, has said, "To change organizational behavior, group norms, not individual attitudes, should be addressed." How does one go about moving that big ship at sea

2.  After taking the Top Management in confidence HR Manager may reform the existing Productivity Incentive Scheme by adding new Parameters of Safety and making the same more Attractive& Lucrative. (First step by the Management, for giving equal importance to Safety & Productivity.)

3.  Start having interaction with Union Office Bearers on Safety related Issues and its importance, it is possible that management may not get the results for few months, but continuous hammering, may change the attitude of Union Office bearers towards Safety.

4.  It is not possible that all 80% of unionized workforce can be against the Safety Procedures, HR Manager may put some efforts in identifying the Power Centers and Positive Influential Workers, who can work as a catalyst for implementation of New Safety Standards.

5.  Start having a "Mass Communication Meet" preferably on 1st of every month, where Safety Statistics can be shared with Workers and by various Role Play, Safety Awareness can be increased.

6. Start recognizing the worker, who has identified more number of "Unsafe Practices " & "Unsafe Conditions" and helped in elimination of the same. 

7.  Make the involvement of family members, Spouses, Parents, Children for increase in awareness regarding "Safety at Workplace".In first few days, it may be possible that they may also ignore the initiative of management but be specific and start sending the information related to the "Good Work Done by the Worker" to his/her family members and after some time information regarding "Failure on Practicing the Safety Precautions and its implications" in simple, easily understood local language.  (Second Step by Management, Involving Family Members and linking Safety with Reward & Recognition). 

8.  HR Manager may introduce some Safety Related Innovative Competitions for all workforce and recognize the "Best Safe Worker" or "Excellent Safe Worker" once in a quarter, by ensuring the presence of workers family members in recognition.         

9.  While entering in to the settlement with Union,  Management charter of demand must have a pre-condition that Union Office Bearers shall not Boycott, any safety related initiative taken by the management and shall positively encourage the workers for involvement & active participation in safety practices. 

10.  Management may Prepare and implement "Disciplinary Action Procedure for Safety Violation" by making it a part of Settlement with Union Office Bearers. (Third Step by Management, when, Management shall clear the intention that Safety is over and above all and there will be no compromise for the same.)