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Leadership is crucial for integrating OHS with ESG goals, experts deliberate
Aug 22, 2023

Leadership is crucial for integrating OHS with ESG goals, experts deliberate at the CII Safety Symposium and Exposition

“Every accident is avoidable and safety vision and thoughts of the leadership need to be percolated to the workspace/shopfloor and remote working areas,” Mr Ashis Shit, Chief Inspector of Factories, Directorate of Factories, Government of West Bengal said while addressing decision makers, safety heads, EHS professionals at a special plenary in the 17th edition of Safety Symposium & Exposition organized by CII in Kolkata today. He said that the major concern of the National Safety Policy is the changing job patterns and working relationships, the rise in self-employment, greater sub-contracting, outsourcing of work, homework and the increasing number of employees working away from their establishment which pose problems to management of occupational safety and health risks at workplaces. Mr Shit reiterated that the government is concerned about the new safety hazards and health risks will be appearing along with the transfer and adoption of new technologies. He added that another area of worry was the risk prone conditions such as migrant employees and various vulnerable groups of employees arising out of greater mobility in the workforce with more people working for a number of employers, either consecutively or simultaneously. The Chief Inspector of Factories said that with 531 new factories setup in West Bengal in 2022-23, there have been a considerable number of fatal accidents despite consistent monitoring/training/inspection done by the Directorate of Factories which, according to him, were all avoidable if the workers were aware of processes of operations. Mr Shit called for more awareness and training of workers for a safer workspace.

Earlier at the inaugural session, Mr Abhijit Banerjee, Managing Director, Linde India Ltd said that ESG reporting landscape is rapidly changing at the global level with ever-increasing challenges pertaining to environmental, social and governance dimensions. He said that the business leaders in India also see a merit to reorient their corporate purpose and extend beyond wealth creation into broader themes that its key stakeholders are concerned with. According to Mr Banerjee, in the present world, sustainability is something that investors are demanding, customers are expecting, shareholders are relying on, and employees are valuing. Leadership has to play a key role in implementing sustainable business culture in an organization. The leadership indicators focus on providing a broader picture of the company’s operations in terms of sustainability, he added. The Managing Director of Linde India Ltd. also said that the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) framework analysis shows that almost all its principles are “inseparable” from the EHS agenda of the corporates. Emphasizing on avoiding shortcuts for tasks that need to be performed, Mr Banerjee called for interdependent behaviour for safety, visible committed leadership and improving operating discipline with the guiding principle of “everyone should do it right for the first time, every time.”

Delivering his special address, Mr Ujjal Chakraborti, Chairman, CII Jharkhand State Council & Managing Director, Jamshedpur Continuous Annealing & Processing Co Pvt Ltd said that one of the most crucial aspects of safety is leadership. He said that a leader is faced with decisions of looking at short term gains by compromising on the safety, but a strong safety culture is imbibed by a leader who envisions long term gains with an eye on EHS standards. Mr Chakraborti further said that today, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors have gained significant attention from investors, businesses, and society and while ESG has traditionally focused on environmental and governance issues, the social component has recently garnered recognition. This includes overall health and wellbeing which has occupational health and safety (OHS) at the heart of sustainable business practices. He added that the inclusion of OHS considerations into ESG frameworks has been a starting point and crucial step for companies to create sustainable, responsible, and resilient operations that prioritize both people and the planet. According to him, OHS is a legal and ethical responsibility for businesses. It impacts employee well-being, productivity, and business performance. Ensuring that workers have a safe and healthy work environment is a fundamental human right. Internationally safety has gained tremendous importance. It is now one of the priority areas in the international arena. Bodies like UNDP, ILO etc. are giving so much importance to this aspect, Mr Chakraborti said. He also stressed on engaging the society as part of the journey to strengthen the OHS goals.

Mr Rajiv Mangal, Chairman CII Eastern Region Safety Taskforce & Vice President, Safety, Health & Sustainability, Tata Steel Ltd said that the OHS and ESG goals are closely related and integrating them can help companies create a sustainable and responsible business. According to Mr Mangal, Companies can integrate health and safety management into their ESG framework by establishing policies and practices that promote employee health and safety. This includes providing a safe work environment, identifying and managing hazards, and promoting healthy lifestyles. Globally there is a growing government interest in disclosure of ESG goals by companies, he said and added that in India also, the current business environment demands paying attention to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues that are becoming increasingly critical for all companies across all sectors. He spoke at length about Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) which is the first framework in India that requires Indian companies to provide quantitative metrics on sustainability-related factors, as of fiscal year 2023. Mr Mangal also said that BRSR embraces ESG concepts in its disclosure formats which broadly stands on the three verticals of Environment, Social, Governance and today, investors and other stakeholders are inclined towards businesses which are socially and environmentally responsible and are not just focused on financial gains and thus, reporting of a company’s performance on sustainability related factors has become as vital as reporting on financial and operational performance. The Vice President, Safety, Health & Sustainability, Tata Steel Ltd said further that developing a workplace safety culture has become a competitive factor for sustainable companies.

A CII – Consultivo Report on OHS Preparedness in the Eastern Region, Trends and Analysis was unveiled at the forum and the CII SHE awards, recognizing excellence in Safety, Health and Environment practices were awarded to companies in Manufacturing, Mining, Construction, Service spaces.

The two-day symposium will be having deliberations on Leadership Role in Defining ESG Goals, Building Resilient Strategies for implementation of ESG Goals, Fire Hazards and Adoption of ESG in the Construction Industry, Re-engineering of Mining Industry and its Impact on ESG, User Friendly PPE for Improving Compliance and the Changing Role of Safety Leaders with Emergence of ESG framework.


22 August 2023


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