It is rather the attitude that is all the more required to enhance the safety awareness, rather than any equipment, says Goutham Reddy, Executive Director, Ramky Infrastructure Ltd in an interview with Lovina Kinny.
Can you give us a perspective on the road transport sector? How has the safety at road construction sites seen in India?
The road transport sector in India takes the top most priority in the to-do list. With a tremendous upsurge in the infrastructure across the nation, the road transport sector has been identified as the leading sector that needs to be focused on for a healthy economic growth and faster industrial development for other sectors. In this connection, the safety aspect as concentrated on road construction has also seen major transformation. Bringing in more people together from different sectors with their varied experiences, rich cultural weaving is being done to enhance the awareness on the road construction. Activities like mining operations, updated visualization of activities, simple but educative signage, etc which were carried out in confinement are being now taken up in vast expanses. The former version of road construction in the traditional way, is now giving way to embracing more encompassing MOEF involvement; demanding nature of industrial development; cultural involvement and more stringent policies and statutory requirements. These policies and statutes are aimed at bringing about awareness amongst the users and respect for the activities being executed parallely.
In the experience of Ramky, are road work zones regarded as problematic in terms of safety?
Yes, there are problems that need to be addressed on a, as and when basis. Shortage of unskilled man-power to cater to the different activities on the safety front is proving to be a major set-back. Remote areas of construction of highways where catering to the basic needs of safety become a great difficulty. Social status of inhabitants also interferes with the construction activities. In this connection, there have been so many instances of missing signage, cautions, barricades, etc., which leave the highway users in a daze when opting for diversions; hooliganism from localities are just a few of the instances that can be mentioned extempore.
How is the safety of employees considered in Ramky’s approach to worksite management?
Safety of the employees in Ramky is considered on the top most priority, as they are the main stakeholders. Hence, the facilities that are to be provided to them at the work site are a basic feature that are always discussed and focused on. Provision of medical facilities, boarding and lodging facilities, which become a part of the safety endeavor, hygiene and sanitation, are a few of the things that are constantly reflected upon. Even in remote areas of construction the basic requirements are always catered to. Work wise, constant training from the safety department is always planned and executed; safety equipment is planned well before hand and used as and when required. Designated and qualified safety personnel are deployed at all the road construction projects to guide, caution and implement corrective actions as and when any unsafe conditions are observed. This is a normal and routine process adopted by the Ramky Management.
What do you see as the main safety issues around road work zones? Do you have specific procedures relating to safety and road maintenance? If so, what do these entail?
Main safety issues include disturbances from the local people, theft of material on a regular basis, confusion to the commuters on the roads regarding diversions, cautions etc. and encroachment and land clearances though these are a part of the legal aspects but do lead to mobbing and violence at times.
As regards maintenance, the main problem lies in the fact that traffic does not allow for proper settlement of the works and thereby leads to frequent repairs and maintenance of stretches. This is all the more pronounced during monsoon.
Do you provide specific training for employees in relation to how to carry out roads works safely? If so, what does training involve?
Yes, Ramky does provide separate training that caters to road construction. This is in retrospection to the IRC (Indian Road Congress) guidelines. Trainings involve, use of traffic signals, diversions, traffic controlling, road repairs during heavy commuting hours, placing of cautions during various stages of road construction, preventing of landslides on to the roads by providing bunds or canals, shoring of walls adjacent to roads, night works, preventive maintenance of vehicles and equipment being used for construction works, plant and equipment location away from the local habitats, protecting environment, flora and fauna by liaosing with MOEF and local agencies. These trainings are catered to as a part of the business for Ramky. CSR is an in-built agenda for Ramky. Catering to free medical services to all the employees and also the work force in all its projects is a continual effort towards improvement of quality of life.
Is there any specific equipment that you feel makes a significant contribution to safety at work zones?
Putting it in other words, it is rather the attitude that is all the more required to enhance the safety awareness, rather than any equipment. Simple signage, cautions, diversions, speed limits, curbing rash driving, following lane driving is what is required more. Abiding by the IRC codes should make the work easier and head towards a faster finish.
What are some of the most common occupational injuries that occur in highway construction work zones? What are the safety codes brought in by government to prevent accidents and fatalities?
Some of the major occupational injuries that are faced in highway construction work are fatalities due to rash driving, lung infection due to exposure to batching plants, hot mix plants, and dust. There are some codes that are applicable and quoted by the government. These are:
- Indian Road Congress codes – Related to road construction.
- Factories Act – Related to setting up of Plant and Machinery.
- Building and Other construction Workers Act (BAOCW Act) – Related to building of bridges and other buildings during
the course of roads construction.
- Acts related to minimum wages, compensation and concerning the labor welfare.
- Mining Act – When clearance of lands using explosives is catered to.
- Forest Act – Related to conservation of flora and fauna in concert with government and local bodies.
What safeguards should fall protection systems used in highway construction work zones have?
Fall protection system in its generic sense relates to the protection for falling of personnel when working at heights. In the road construction also this is applicable as there are many instances when culverts, bridges are to be constructed and therefore fall protection has to be implemented. Also, due to excavations at places, a general precaution that is used is the barricades with appropriate signage cautioning road users against pits, deep trenches, etc. Night time reflective cautions are also in vogue for better and clear vision.
Would you like to see further steps from the government in terms of ensuring the safety of road workers and road users at road work zones?
Additional steps that are required from the government to enhance safety of road workers is the fact that should be clear understanding on the land acquisition issues; orders to the local panchayats for cooperating in the construction activities; and, frequent camps from government agencies in promoting road use consciousness. This would make the works safer and accelerated for quicker results.
Besides safety what are the other challenges faced by the sector?
The other challenges faced by the sector are right of way, utility shifts, and achievement of financial closure remain the most daunting, even as several other concerns relating to the process of awarding contracts.
What are the various projects company is currently executing – size, location, cost etc?
Ramky Infra has nearly 500 km of BOT roads under various stages of development. The road projects under the developer sector include: Rehabilitation, Strengthening and Four Laying of Srinagar to Banihal Section of NH – 1A, from 187.00 km to 189.350 km (Banihal Bypass) & 220.70 km to 286.11 km on DBFOT(Annuity) Basis in the state of Jammu & Kashmir at a cost of Rs1,600 crore, Four Laning of Jorabat – Shillong (Barapani) section of NH – 40 from 0.000 km to 61.800 km in the state of Assam & Meghalaya on DBFOT (Annuity) Basis at a cost of Rs824 crore, Design, Construction, Finance, Operation & Maintenance of Four Laning of Narketpalli – Addanki – Medarametla road (SH- 2) from 0.000 km to 212.500 km in the state of Andhra Pradesh under Public Private Partnership (PPP) on Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) basis at a cost of Rs1760 crore, Construction & maintenance of a 42 km four lane Greenfield bypass in the state of Madhya Pradesh on DBFOT (Annuity) basis at a cost of Rs332 crore and Design, Construction, Development of Expressway under Phase – II A- Phase – I – ORR to Hyderabad City (Tukkuguda to Shamshabad 121.00 km to 133.63 km) on DBFOT(Annuity) basis at a cost of Rs399 crore.
Lastly what has been the growth of the company in last fiscal? What is your order book position? How much do you target in current fiscal?
For the year ended March 2011, the company grew at the rate of 54.14% y-o-y with turnover of Rs3146.96 crore. Our current order book stands at around Rs11,500 crore and we expect to maintain a similar growth rate as last year.
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