Wednesday, July 15, 2009

on 5 comments

Bridging the gaps

As a Civil Engineer and especially an ex Gammon staffer who started his career there, it hurts me no end to see the flak the company received for the recent accidents and loss of lives and thus its own loss of face.

Don’t think for a moment that I condone the lapses that resulted in the earlier Hyderabad and the recent Delhi Bridge site mishaps.

I don't.

But then its just not about a single careless Gammon India and only them that should be blamed…It goes much, much deeper than that.

We talk about safety standards or the lack of them and hasty arrangements in the Delhi or Hyderabad mishap sites…Do we for a moment pause and think whether we as Indians are safety conscious at all?

To ask difficult questions, by way of introspection,

1. How many of us , I mean the educated citizens, always wear helmets while riding two wheelers on metro city streets?
2. How many times don’t we overtake from left, jump the signals and bribe the greedy cops at street corners for our lapses?
3. Isn’t it quite common to see hasty two wheeler riders zip along the foot paths in Bangalore or Chennai just to get ahead to the signals throwing pedestrian safety to wind in their wake?

To be more specific to the Construction Industry,

1. How many of the construction labourers are provided even basic safety gear by employers, how many of them default on these unabashedly and again bribe their way out with ‘powers that be’ to carry on nonchalantly?
2. How many construction labourers in Indian sites have been trained and taught not to ignore helmets, boots and safety harnesses while working in dangerous conditions? And how many follow them despite being a declared rule in many Corporate construction sites?.. How many trained personnel or licensed drivers only operate and handle construction equipments and cranes and lories laden with materials?
3. How many times have we not seen steel rods sticking out dangerously from Lorries in front of us with a red kerchief tied to them? And what about carrying wooden poles and long furniture on pillions on scooters and sticking out of Auto-rickshaw sides?

I have seen many construction sites in my career and believe me the answer to safety questions followed is shockingly negative.

I am equally amazed now working in a British MNC from their site pictures and videos that not once, even by chance do ‘they’ miss out on life saving precautions in UK and elsewhere…Not once and not anywhere…Safety and equipment training are scrupulously followed and are given paramount importance.

Let’s face it, Safety is not in our blood…Ask any NRI on visit to motherland if he dares to drive cars on Indian roads today…They shiver with fright…

Then add to this deadly risk- corruption, greed and utter carelessness…You have the perfect recipe for sudden death and destruction!

The bottom-line is- It is for us to cultivate safe working habits and bridge the gaping holes in our system before finding easy scapegoats for short term goals.


  1. Shashi11:59 AM

    We're happy with low standards. "chalta hai" attitude.

  2. Three cranes with a total lifting capacity several times the weight of the girder failed.

    Not sure how this can happen unless the coordination was imperfect.

    May be for a second the entire load was borne by one of the cranes and before the other cranes could contribute their "Might" the first already gave way?

    Or possibly the soil under crane track wheels sank? We think only of the capacity of the steel strucutres and cranes. Do we check if terra firma is firm?

    There could be other reasons too.
    But these struck me first.
    Of course I wasn't there and cannot comment with confidence or authority.

    Doubtless, inquiry committees will do their job and hush up the matter. It will finally be put down to "An act of God."

    I feel sorry for Sreedharan.
    He didn't deserve this.
    I hope he is not victimized by those jealous of him and who may use this incident to cut him down to size.

    G Vishwanath, Bangalore

  3. Yes as a society we fail to follow basic safety norms in everyday life.
    We need to fill up the "gaps" and perhaps should start from us.

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