Revisiting a known but critical topic for the Chemicals Industry, CII hosted a National Workshop on Health, Safety, Security and Environment, here today. The workshop which was organized in association with Department of Chemical and Petrochemicals, The Session witnessed senior leaders from the industry touch upon key sub- themes like Areas of Policy Intervention; Occupational Health, Safety, Security and Environment Assessment; Risk Assessment and Control; and Best Practices.
Delivering the Inaugural Address at the Workshop, Dr AJV Prasad, Joint Secretary, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India expressed the willingness of the Government to help the MSMEs to adopt best practices for ensuring health, safety, security and environment. Touching upon the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Swachh Bharat’, Dr Prasad mentioned that ‘the Indian chemicals industry has a huge role to play in delivering the objectives of the Campaign and the same
In his keynote address, Mr Arun Kumar Jha, Director General, National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Government of India, spoke about the essential role of the government in implementing the requisite safety standards and regulations. He also spoke about access to credit for MSMEs being a crucial aspect to expand the scope for research and development as well compliance to safety standards and regulatory regimes. For this, he added that the government is running schemes such as the priority lending scheme, the Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme and the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for the benefit of MSMEs. He concluded by ensuring that the government is dedicated to bring in the safety and security standards that will assist efficient growth of the chemicals industry.
During the session, Dr Rashmi Naidu, Director (Technical Services), NS Support Services Private Limited, elucidated some effective policy interventions to ensure health, safety, security and environment standards in the MSME sector. According to her, amongst the essentials of an effective chemicals policy, the most significant are a focus on the protection of human health and preservation of the environment, a mechanism to ensure competitiveness, strict and clear compliance measures, non-discriminatory and effective implementation frameworks and encouragement to substitution of the most hazardous chemicals. In her opinion, the draft National Chemicals Policy focuses on many of the most important issues facing the Indian chemicals industry. Speaking about the expectations from an ideal National Chemicals Policy, she mentioned that it should emphasize further on hazardous chemicals. She suggested the classification of chemical substances into Tier I and Tier II chemicals such that the most hazardous substances fall in the Tier I category. She added that the Tier I substances should be subjected to more stringent classification norms and onerous requirements. In her opinion, this system is easy to implement and understand as well as cost effective.
Shedding light on the possible interventions by MSMEs to ensure health, safety, security and environment standards, she highlighted the importance of small changes that MSMEs can make on their part. These include the mandatory use of personal protective equipment by the employees, implementation of clean and efficient energy in production processes, waste disposal management, regular and realistic industry audits and the importance of reusing and recycling. For environment conservation, the suggestions mentioned by her include proper positioning of chimneys, diversion of waste to central ETPs, reduction of noise pollution and exploration of options to reduce solid waste. As part of measures to prevent the deleterious effects on health and safety of the employees, she suggested regular medical checkups, medical compensation, display of dos and don’ts in the facilities, etc. She highlighted the role that important stakeholders can play be stating that companies must engage in responsible manufacturing processes. Additionally, she stated that industry associations can assist by sharing recommendations and best practices and the government can provide the necessary policy framework.
Ms Shernaz Vakil, Chairperson, CII Sub-Committee on Standards and Regulatory Regimes and Chairman and Managing Director, Dai Ichi Karkaria Limited, said that health and safety form the cornerstone of society. According to her, the safety standards were introduced in India through the programme called Responsible Care in 1985 as a response to several catastrophic accidents. In her opinion, sustainability of businesses depends on continuously improving the production processes. She added that in spite of their significant contribution to the national GDP, SMEs account for a considerable amount of accidents. The objective should be to encourage SMEs to comply with health and safety standards. She added that India loses 25,000 lives per year due to fire. A lack of sufficient standards and regulation is responsible for these fatalities, she said.
Dr Alka Kaul, Chairperson, CII Delhi State Council and Chair, CII Sub Group on Women Empowerment concluded the session by strongly urging industries to deliberate and come up with relevant suggestions for consideration in the National Chemicals Policy. She concluded by stating that simple and effective policies are really important to achieve global standards in the regulation of the chemicals industry.