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Mikhail Ryazanov: Timely information on violations prevents injuries

  • Published in Economy
Mikhail Ryazanov moved from the "mainland" to the Arctic Circle to develop a system of labor protection and industrial safety management in ALROSA.
How people perceive changes in production, how the motivation mechanism works for managers and employees, the new adviser to the Company's CEO told ALROSA's Newsletter Vestnik ALROSA.

- You have been working here for a month and a half. What production sites did you manage to visit? Do you personally have to visit and inspect all the production sites in Yakutia? Is there a significant difference in the level of industrial safety between the enterprises that you visited?

- I still have not been able to inspect everything, although I set this goal for myself. For a month I managed to visit Udachny and Nyurba Mining and Processing Plant. Several times descended into the Inter. I refrain from comparisons regarding the level of industrial safety between these enterprises. I can say that there are problems both there and there.

- What is behind violations of industrial safety regulations in hazardous industrial production?

- Both workers and managers often do not pay attention to the danger, do not attach much importance to it. The habit of dealing with dangerous production dulls employees' sense of self-preservation. This is a common problem for those who work at such enterprises. Sometimes, even seeing a violation or danger at the workplace, employees do not want to call to their management's notice. The reasons for this are completely different.

But I want to note, here, in ALROSA, there are responsible workers who talk about problems and when visiting enterprises, and simply by e-mail. Not indifferent people report on existing violations and dangers. Some facts of violations were confirmed.

The messages that come to me speak about the problems of communication between workers and their immediate supervisors. Since they call me and write, they cannot dig out the truth there. Perhaps we will open a special hotline for such messages.

In the meantime, I appeal to all those who have encountered a violation of the rules of labor protection and industrial safety at the workplace, get in contact directly with me, for example, by e-mail, even without giving names and surnames.

Another root of the trouble is the concealment of truth. The changes that we have planned are aimed precisely at making the concealment unprofitable. Recently, we checked the act of an already completed investigation of the incident at the Udachny mine, which, fortunately, did not lead to a serious accident. We carefully studied the circumstances, the causes of the incident and came to the result that there was the need to review the previously submitted act of investigation and conclusions on the responsible persons. Under the chairmanship of First Deputy Director General Igor V. Sobolev, a committee on labor protection and industrial safety was organized. As part of the work of this committee, the incident was thoroughly considered. The result of the work of the committee was the reinstatement of the employee dismissed earlier for the incident and the adoption of serious disciplinary measures against the managers who committed gross negligence in their work having thrown the wrong person under the bus.

- What are the structural changes you are preparing, and how they will help to address the problems?

- We shift the labor protection and industrial safety services from the liabilities of chief engineers to the chief executive officers, which will allow these services to work more independently from production. Departments for the organization of production control will be established at the enterprises of ALROSA. In this case, all line managers still have responsibility for the organization and work safety supervision. They will still monitor compliance with the rules on-site. The obligation of the employee for the organization of production control (one can call him/her an internal controller) is to check how conscientiously the manager performs his/her function. We can say that the employees of the production control department are our eyes and ears.

- You will be hiring new employees for the departments being formed?

- We plan to attract resources within the Company. They should be independent people, resistant to influence from the outside. It is planned to increase the staff of industrial safety experts by 40 people - it's for the entire Company.

- Why is this structure chosen? Is there an example of its application at other companies?

- Similar control systems exist in many industrial leading companies. The system introduced by us has proved very well in the Donetsk Fuel and Energy Company (DTEC). We also have other innovations. Two collegial bodies have established, directing changes in the management system of the Labor Protection and Industrial Safety. The first is a committee under the leadership of the Company's CEO, it gathers at least once a quarter and addresses issues of strategic development in the field of industrial safety. It started work last year. The second committee was created under the Executive Director. In addition to making decisions on the developed elements of the management system, the meetings of the committee also deal with potentially fatal incidents.

- You mentioned at the beginning of our conversation that it would be unprofitable to conceal violations. How will you achieve this?

- We shall use a system of motivation. I think it is wrong to tie incentive scheme solely on the injury frequency rate. You can hide real violations and show perfect results on paper. This is a vicious practice leading to deceptions. Instead, we plan to develop an integral indicator that will reflect not only the level of injuries. This indicator will take into account the degree of management participation in solving labor safety problems: meetings and committees on this topic initiated by the director, proposals for improving the system, working with the team and much more. The manager should show a visible commitment to the principles of labor protection and industrial safety adopted in the company. We want to achieve active involvement of the management; we want them to become models for their subordinates.

Furthermore, hiding something will be not profitable because behind the concealment will be very strict disciplinary and material sanctions for executives, including dismissal.

- You mention the management. Will a system of motivation for employees be developed?

- I think it is wrong to encourage for following the rules that an employee is obliged to follow. But if he does something more than what is required of him, then it deserves encouragement. For example, why not organize a new category of employees - "security instructors" or "security leaders." They will have higher requirements for additional work in the field of security (for control, training, mentoring, correct behavior, help in making decisions, etc.). Accordingly, for extra work and the competence, such workers will receive a bonus. We plan to develop a motivation system for employees by June-July.

- Do you plan to expand the training program in your area?

-  We are thinking over the concept of internal coaches for industrial safety. It can be implemented on the basis of the Center for Personnel Training. Coaches will be able to work after passing special courses. If a decision is made to organize such work, the most experienced and authoritative employees will be recruited to work as an internal coach, possibly attracting pensioners. The competence of coaches will include daily testing of knowledge, observational skills training, attitude towards risk and danger. The current labor protection training will not undergo significant changes. Although, in my opinion, there is much to strive for in development even here in this sphere. For example, now it is common to train industrial safety during off-hours, which is not paid. What may be the attitude of an employee to such a training if he/she is forced to come on his day-off or after work? Another aspect of teaching, the approach to which, I believe, needs to be changed, is a test of knowledge. We do not know, not because we were not taught, but because no one else asked us. Therefore, knowledge requires regular fixing. At the same time, of course, it is necessary to separate the questions for different categories and levels of employees and managers.

- You came to the Company with the reform. Usually the cardinal changes are given a hostile reception. Do not you feel wry glances, confrontation?

- Negative side of things always presents, especially when the conflict situations are sorted out. But I don’t feel a violent confrontation. On the contrary, employees see our efforts and are eager to participate in improving the situation, turning our attention to specific problems on the sites. I call on workers to join the initiative. Our goal is to eliminate injuries. Let's work on this together.


Photo: Grigory IFTODY