While we are working away on our project (thanks to you all for the terrific suggestions on improving English at the local schools – very useful and greatly appreciated; keep them coming!), I thought I’d share some insight into the Health & Safety culture here.
Being a large oil company, Health & Safety is taken very seriously at Essar and the methods implemented are comparable to what I’ve seen in the UK; on our first day we attended a mandatory health & safety training, followed a strict health & safety procedure during our refinery visit (didn't we all look very cool in our hard hats and safety shoes..?! :-)
- Safety rules are your best tools.
- Safety is not a job. It's a way of life.
- Normal speed meets every need.
- Safety first. Avoid the worst.
- Safety is a full time job. Don't make it a part time habit.
- Don't be hasty when it comes to safety.
- And my favourite: "Safety comes in cans. I can. You can. We can."
Essar has a great health & safety track record and received many awards for this, so you would be forgiven to think that this is something deeply embedded in the Indian culture.
Let me put that into context with some pictures of day-to-day life outside the office though…
Clearly, safety helmets, ropes and safety nets are for beginners…
…electricity is not dangerous and access to it should be provided freely…
…and gas canisters should always be carried in as large numbers as possible:
As for travelling, we found that while most Indians prefer to drive on the left side of the road, this seems to be rather more of a guideline than a rule. So if you don’t feel that driving on the left is good for your karma, no one will force their opinion on you and you may happily chose to drive against the general direction of traffic and you will find that the other (oncoming) drivers will acknowledge your drive for personal fulfilment with happy honking and waving… (both of the pictures below were taken on what would be considered a 2 lane one-way highway in most countries… - see if you can spot the problem…):
Also, who needs seat belts – being able to decide where and how you sit/stand/lie on a vehicle is probably one of the basic human rights in India and forcing people via seat belts to only sit in one exact space would clearly violate this fundamental right…
And finally – isn’t it nice that the railway people put these lovely steel bars across the country to provide orientation for the lost traveller on how to get from A to B?
Despite these rather unusual experiences I have to say that I have rarely felt as safe anywhere as in India. Everyone is extremely helpful and friendly and with us being foreigners (and a rather unusual sight) they look out for us and make sure we are alright all the time.
We hope to make good progress on our project over the coming days and I hope you all also have a great and exciting week!