‘I believe there is a need to take health & safety beyond the workplace’: In conversation with Sanjay Rajasekaran, SHP’s International Rising Star winner
At Safety & Health Expo in June, Sanjay Rajasekaran was named as the winner of SHP’s International Rising Star award for 2018. Having given him a few weeks to let the accolade sink in, SHP caught up with Sanjay to ask him about the achievement and to find out what made him the stand-out choice for the judging panel.
Sanjay collecting his International Rising Star award from Battersea Power Station’s John Green.
SHP’s International Rising Star is open to anyone under the age of 30 that is not based in the UK and recognises members of the next generation in health & safety who have demonstrated excellence in their roles. Sanjay is Group Safety & Health Manager at Tata Sons Ltd in India.
Firstly, huge congratulations on winning the International Rising Star award for 2018. Can you tell me how you felt when your name was called out?
Sanjay Rajasekaran (SR): “Thankyou. It was a mixture of surprise and elation when my name was called out. It is indeed an honour to be bestowed this award and it was very humbling to receive the award from the distinguished SHP.”
Please tell us a little about your role at Tata, what you are responsible for and some of the issues you have to confront on a day-to-day basis.
(SR): “I work with the Group Safety & Health team, which housed in the division of Tata Business Excellence Group within Tata Sons Ltd.
“The role of this function is to assist Tata Companies in their journey of Safety Excellence by providing direction, advisory services and enabling the sharing of best practices within the Tata Ecosystem.
“My role involves providing support to companies, based on request on the various topics of safety & health. Whether through specific projects or through training interventions.”
Have you always been involved in health & safety?
(SR): “Yes, I completed my Bachelors in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and then completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Industrial Safety & Environmental Management from NITIE, Mumbai.
“I joined Tata Motors after my Masters, in the Safety & Health team and was working there in the Corporate Safety team for three years before I moved to the Group Safety team at Tata Business Excellence Group and have been here for over three and a half years.”
It was stated by your nominator that you have done ‘exemplary work’ in enhancing health & safety across the Tata Group, working on projects leading to a greatly improved health & safety culture within the group’s companies. Please tell us a little about those projects.
(SR): “I was part of the team that conducted deep dive assessments in a few of Tata Companies. While the intent of the deep dive in each company was different, it was mainly conducted against the requirements set in the Tata Safety & Health Management System.
“The improvement opportunities identified in deep dive assessments were implemented in the respective companies and this helped in enhancing the safety & health culture in the companies.”
Your role operates across a number of sectors, including retail, steel, mining, automotive and construction. What sorts of challenges does that bring?
(SR): “More than a challenge it is a privilege and honour to be working with a company that spans multiple sectors. A select few get an opportunity such as this in their career.
“The challenge is that each sector comes with unique health & safety risks that are typical to its industry. It is important as a safety professional to understand the context of each industry along with the various business operations. A solution that works with one industry will not work in another. It is imperative that the context of each organisation is understood, and only then can one provide meaningful and appropriate support to line functions to execute a safety program.”
What do you feel the general attitude is to health and safety in India?
(SR): “In India our attitude towards Safety is evolving. There are currently two distinct attitudes to safety. There is one attitude during work and another outside work. The Safety attitude during work is obviously better, while the safety attitude outside work is sometimes found wanting.
“There is a need to absorb safety consciousness in our mindset and one that does not make distinctions based on if it is work related or not.”
What do you think can be done to improve this?
(SR): “I believe there is a need to take health & safety beyond the workplace. It is important to start right at our homes and schools educating children on the right safety attitude and practices. Safety needs to be integrated into our DNA and as mentioned earlier, it has to be integrated into all aspects of lives whether at office, at home or while driving.
“Parents need to be role models on safety and this will automatically bring about a change the safety attitude in the future generation.
“There is a gap in terms where our safety culture is and where we want to be. There is a need to bridge this gap through various interventions that go beyond the workplace.”
What are your hopes and aims within your role for the remainder of the year?
(SR): “I am excited and looking forward to the remainder of this year. There is a lot to be done!
“There are several projects which are in the pipeline and this needs to be executed well. We are also organising a conference in the start of next year and the preparations for this has already started.
“I intend upon continuously learning and upskilling myself and I hope to complete a certification course on safety very soon.”
Congratulations once again Sanjay.