Tata Steel adopts tech-based initiative for safe working inside factory, mines during pandemic

The app is enabled by "Suraksha Card"

Tata Steel, COVID 19 pandemic, Safety measures, Sanitisation, Social distancing, Suraksha card, Jharkhand, Odisha, Seraikela-Kharswan district, Kalinganagar, Jamshedpur, Kulvin Suri

As part of the efforts to check spread of coronavirus, Tata Steel has adopted a digital technology-based initiative named "connected workforce" to ensure safe working inside the factory premises and mines spanning various geographies by real-time tracking, alerts and Quick Response Team (QRT) protocols.

The objective behind the "connected workforce" app is to monitor virus-related risks. It is among a series of measures that have been taken to effectively combat Covid-19, said Kulvin Suri, chief corporate communications (India & South East Asia), Tata Steel.

There are altogether 32,000 employees in Tata Steel across the country and 55,000 contractual workforce.

Its manufacturing facities are Tata Steel, Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Kalinganagar (Odisha), long products in Gamariah, Seraikela-Kharswan district of Jharkhand, and one unit in Angul, Odisha.

The company has mines in Jharkhand and Odisha of iron-ore, collieries and manganese.

"We have been following all necessary health and hygiene norms, in line with the government guidelines, at our offices and plant facilities to safeguard the health and safety of all our employees and stakeholders. The company has established robust standard operating guidelines (SOP) and work protocols which are being followed", Suri added.

The app is enabled by "Suraksha Card".

This digital technology also enables crowd sensing solution to pre-empt & detect violation of social distancing at shopfloors with the help of the cameras installed, Covid risk profile assessment of employees, scientific contact tracing and face-detection and social distancing checks through artificial intelligence, he said.

Moreover, as part of its comprehensive employee safety approach to deal with the pandemic, the steel major has implemented the concept of POD across its operating locations, which is multi-layer protection to break the transmission circuit.

These measures are beyond the stipulated SOPs, which anyway are being strictly followed by the organisation, Suri added.

One of the important aspects of the POD concept is modularisation of the workforce into pods. The idea is to divide the workforce into self-sufficient groups with Operations & Maintenance including contractors, thereby restrict the inter-pod movement.

This arrangement prevents infection among the majority of the workforce in the event of a Covid-19 positive case, Suri said, adding the factory workforce has been divided into hundreds of PODs across locations, he said.

The POD is a set of workers, ideally within 10 numbers, with a self-contained set of skills so that they do not have to depend on anyone outside their group for closing any assigned job. These people have very limited cross-pod movement and interaction.

All the members have to maintain mandatory social distancing.

Additionally, to reduce the risk of contamination across shifts, a 30 minutes air gap is maintained between two shifts.

Fifteen minutes before the shift ends, each work area and tools get sanitised. Even exit happens through the designated gates.

The next shift enters 15 minutes later through a separate gate, wherever possible, and once again cleans the work area and tools before usage. This way the contamination across shifts is mitigated.

"As the procedure itself delineates, this process limits the spread of the virus across PODs. If one person is infected, the entire POD is quarantined, but the rest of the PODs can continue to work.

"It ensures business operations as the requisite workforce is present to do the job. Besides, in case of any COVID-19 positive case, the POD system enables contact tracing, he added.

Whenever a Covid case is detected in the plant, all protocols are followed strictly that includes area and equipment sanitisation to protect the life of employees as well as property without hampering productivity, a company official said.

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