Learnings from COVID-19 — WASH

COVID-19 has raised a major threat to the existence of business so BCMS-Business Continuity Management System along with safety and hygiene has become a focus area. The industries are operating on and off due to lockdown to date, but some of them are trying to mitigate the risks, with work from home options, software setups survival and business continuity is being seen. Is it feasible for all? The safety pyramid applies to all risks and hazards. Every accident/failure has at least six more incidences that are immediate causes. Out of it, five do not get converted as an incidence. Similarly, the immediate causes are followed by basic causes. Further pointing to substandard acts and substandard conditions is that there are no controls defined or controls are not followed. Finally, leading to a single point attribute — System. The system is not defined or not followed. In a nutshell, the man defining or following the control system is important. It is his or her attitude, control compliance, habits that all lead to unsafe situations or accidents. So, employee morale, their engagement is the primary initiative we should focus on.

WASH is an acronym for ‘Work Place Assessment for Safety & Hygiene’. WASH focuses on safe operations and the workplace for safeguarding the health and safety of employees, customers, and all stakeholders including the public. It needs complying with all new COVID-19 related requirements from health authorities and/or other government bodies & ensuring business continuity in operations to serve customers and protect businesses. This standard is applicable for assessment at any workplace which has been allowed to operate. The assessment can be done as an on-site assessment by trained assessors or remotely through a virtual system of assessment.

The assessment report provides the applicant with an objective assessment of the safety and hygiene measures undertaken by them to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. Its Guideline intentions are –To provide the applicant with a holistic report on the preparedness of its system and processes related to Hygiene & Safety with regards to COVID-19 risk. Its Assessment intentions are — To provide information useful for identifying and improving on the weak links related to hygiene & safety in the operations and the workplace of the applicant organization/institution.

The 15 elements of WASH are as follows-

1. Management Commitment

2. Regulatory and other requirements

3. Business Continuity

4. Risk Management

5. Communication

6. Hygiene and Safety

7. Preventive Measures

8. Training and Awareness

9. Waste Management

10. Ventilation

11. Public Interaction

12. Supply Chain

13. Transport Management

14. Documentation Requirements

15 Control of Discriminatory Practices

In a nutshell, WASH covers all the BCMS elements and has specific COVID-19 references.

The post-virus business landscape will include a larger focus on the health, safety, and hygiene conditions of employees, customers, and the public at large. India’s decision to start opening up the economy in a staggered manner requires a plan to make sure that exceptions are minimized and recurrences of spread are strategically isolated. The positives of the lockdown cannot be afforded to be negated and therefore, there is a need to bring specific standards/protocols for the business organizations, institutions, etc. to ensure that they can operate safely, with little or no instances of re-occurrence. This is essentially the need for WASH certification & implementation.

QCI ZED team’s 15-point guideline can be used for compliance, assessment & certification for industries to assess the start-up readiness of opening up after COVID-19. Industries who have already started can also get their assessment for the adequacy of controls, and recognition for the contribution in COVID prevention by a one-time Certification of WASH.

The information is available on our website for free. In any case, the knowledge should be extended to your stakeholders. The role of MCCIA is to promote such concepts and sensitize the scheme as this is the lowest cost assessment one can ever imagine, developed by QCI and executed by NABCB accredited certifying agencies (NABCB — National Accreditation Board for Certifying Bodies.)

BCMS is ISO 22301, yet not as popular as ISO 9001 or 14001 or 45001. After the first session by MCCIA from 7th to 10th July, most CBs are promoting the BCMS concept. We, with MCCIA, are indeed happy to promote and pioneer such timely concepts.

The details are available on our website, https://www.zeninternational.systems/WASH. We are sure to continue the training for WASH and BCMS, emergency preparedness, risk identification & mitigation, innovation & creativity, supplier chain management, employee engagement with MCCIA in the future to sensitize the industries and to accelerate the economic wheel preventing the COVID-19 spread.

-Dr. Sanjeevani Gogawale & Sacchidanand Gogawale

(This is an edited excerpt from the article that appeared in the November 2020 edition of Sampada, the monthly magazine of MCCIA. The complete issue of Sampada can be accessed at https://www.mcciapune.com/media/Publication/Publication_File/final_Oct_-_Nov_Diwali_Issue_2020_2.pdf )

Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture | One of India’s oldest Chambers of Commerce — Established in 1934 | More than 3000 Corporate Members

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