Prime Minister Modi, in a recent radio address, spoke about public safety. It was a timely call to instill in citizens, individually and collectively, a greater sense of safety. Safety has an element of prevention as in road traffic and fire as well as an element of preparedness in meeting natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes.
National Safety Council of India observes National Safety Day on 4th March every year. The day coincides with the establishment of the Council over five decades ago in 1966. The Council works to spread awareness in various aspects of individual and community safety by developing material, methods, systems, and procedures and to disseminate these to participants in the organized and unorganized sectors in order to prevent/ mitigate loss of life and economic losses.
Safety ought to become a central principle in our lives, of individuals and of the community as can be seenin several societies across the globe. But we have a long way to go. The one place where one can find better focus on safety is the industrial/ manufacturing sector. For several reasons-availability of trained safety specialists, large number of workmen and assets exposed to danger, regulatory oversight, etc. However, other sectors such as construction which also employ large numbers of people, often less educated and trained, seem to have limited compliance to safety regulations. The activities and procedures in this sector present significant dangers and make those working at the sites rather vulnerable.
Therefore, workplace safety,in some sectors needs to move up several notches.
Road safety is oft discussed and debated in society and is evident for each of us to see every day of our lives. While authorities have been making several infrastructure upgradations to improve road safety, there is simultaneously a sharp deterioration in the attitudes and habits of road users, mainly motorists. Safety violations are glaring and visible for all to see. The Group of Ministers constituted by the MoRTH in 2016 to improve road safety notedthat road accident deaths in 2015 were 1,46,000 with over 25 lacs seriously injured. While the GoM recommended several institutional and procedural measures, no worthwhile progress is possible without substantial improvement in behavior of road users. India is a signatory to the Brasilia Declaration and is committed to reduce the number of road crash fatalities by 50% by the year 2020. We will all need to work hard towards this.
Safety in public settings like trains and buses, auditoria, schools and colleges, and hospitals also calls for sustained campaigns and strict conformance to regulations. There is urgent need for awareness building. Our homes present several potential hazards too. Fires including those caused by electrical gadgets misuse, gas cylinder mishaps and handling of inflammable material, all have potential for big damage and losses. Due regard for safe procedures and standard protocols can prevent disasters.
While lauding the roles of various players working in the area of safety and disaster mitigation, the Prime Minister noted the important role ULBs’ fire services could play in improving the safety in our cities, through mock drills in schools, for example. The Disaster Management Cell at AIILSG has been working to create awareness, provide training and for capacity building among various stakeholders for over a decade now.
Let’s all pledge to put Safety First at the workplace, at home and everywhere.