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Sharing knowledge to change lives

Sharing knowledge to change lives


L'Oréal India’s Pune Factory was awarded the 2024 RoSPA Fall Prevention Trophy for its inspiring work to spread safety awareness to the local community – with amazing results. Jane Warren reports.

Despite the fact that India has one of the world’s worst rates for industrial accidents, L’Oréal’s factory in Pune, in the Indian state of Maharashtra in the mid-west of the country, has reported no accidents for the past three years.

“This year there has been no first aid case, and last year the only incidents were small bruises,” says Mayur Raut, EHS & Facilities Manager at L’Oréal Pune.

With this success in mind, he and his health and safety colleague Faiza Patel, decided to take their safety insights and initiatives beyond the factory walls.

“L’Oréal has a very good reputation in India for safety and employment issues,” says Faiza, 26, who has worked for the company for three years. “At the factory we took an oath to be ‘Fall Fighters’, with the help of the RoSPA Fall Fighter course and we wanted to take this into the wider community.”

The factory’s remarkable outreach work has so far been carried out at two homes for the elderly; on a construction site and at a school for disadvantaged children, where 500 children were educated in two sessions. In total, more than 2,500 lives have now been made safer following this important work in one of the most industrialised areas of India.

And it has resulted in L’Oréal Pune becoming the 2024 winner of RoSPA’s Fall Prevention Trophy, which is sponsored by Berkeley Group, in May this year.

“We have very recently received our accolade, but the innovations continue,” says Mayur who travelled from India to RoSPA’s gala celebration in London to receive the award.

L’Oréal’s latest initiatives in the local community include fall prevention sessions with blind children, and those with autism and other learning difficulties.

“We actively involved our workforce with the Safe@Work, Safe@Home initiative, and received testimonies from workers who had experienced falls at home,” says Mayur, 40, who started his health and safety career in 2012 and who has been in post at the Pune factory for two years.

“This discovery last year triggered the thought that safety continues outside the workplace, and it kickstarted our entire outreach journey with multiple initiatives and campaigns actively involving our workforce. Being recognised as one of the best practice factories in L’Oréal further encouraged organisations and authorities from local government to discuss new initiatives with us where we could help. This is part of our group global vision that ‘sharing is caring’.

“We see a lot of high-risk activities being carried out in Pune district. I suggested we should have a visit with our technical teams enabling them to spread some awareness about how to use equipment at height in a safe manner.”

Outreach work

In India, construction work is the second most hazardous job after mining. It is also the industry with the highest fatality rate in India, with falls from height disturbingly commonplace. According to recent figures, an average of 38 workers a day in the Indian construction industry die as a result of workplace accidents (approximately 13,870 per year). In too many cases, these are preventable falls from height.

In contrast, there were 45 deaths last year in UK construction industry. Even adjusting for India’s larger population, which is twenty times that of the UK, this is approximately fifteen times the fatality incidence rate.

“Safety is pretty different in the culture here,” says Mayur. “But in our factory, we have worked to safety expectations since it was built 20 years ago. We have a very rock-solid framework when working at height, with rules that must be followed. But when you look outside at construction sites in this area you observe that scaffolding is not tested and safety awareness is missing, and in India many people are very far away from safety. So why not take our knowledge and share it?”

At a recent L’Oréal workshop on a local construction site in Chikali, L’Oréal Projects and Facilities Manager Mahesh Ukirde was able to educate the workers on fall prevention measures including the need to wear personal protective equipment at height, including a safety belt and harness, as well as the necessity for using signs and barricades when there is a large pit or uneven work surface. A simulation was carried out that enabled a group activity on spotting hazards.

At the non-profit Caring Hands Centre for Education, L’Oréal identified more than twenty-five safety improvement opportunities in the fabric of the building, while delivering a workshop on fire safety, women’s safety, and self-defence.

“L’Oréal technicians then returned to close those gaps which included emergency signage and chevron safety nosing on concrete steps to prevent falls,” says Faiza. 

The manager of the centre was impressed by the insights revealed in helping her to protect her vulnerable charges. “We have many kids and also elderly people living with us. L’Oréal helped us understand what precautions are to be taken at each place,” she said.

As part of the initiative, children at the centre were made aware of slip, trips and falls hazards. “Safe@Work, Safe@Home means nurturing young minds,” says Mayur. “We have found people to be very receptive.”

Raising awareness

The factory’s strategy is to seek locations where resources and insights are limited.

Says Faiza: “We look to work with people who are underprivileged in some way or not literate. Those who do not have even basic knowledge or awareness about safety. This is our first choice. Then we show we care for them and want to tell them points that will help them save their lives.”

She points out that in mainstream Indian schools, there is an awareness of safety material. But less so in schools for the underprivileged.

“We are looking for where we can have maximum impact,” says Faiza. “Our people are the ones who act as ambassadors for us; they are responsible for driving this initiative and vision for the plan.”

In the homes for the elderly, handrails were fitted by L’Oréal technicians to all staircases, and support was added in washrooms where it was difficult for people to sit down. Anti-skid tape was placed on the floor to clearly identify changes in levels and to prevent slipping.

The elderly participants at the residential homes were also given walkers. “We want their entire walking to be safe,” says Faiza. “Things in the UK that are standard are not standard here.”

Leaks in washroom pipes were also identified and surveyed by L’Oréal, who then returned to carry out repairs to further minimise the risk of slips.

“We utilised throughout, RoSPA’s free fall prevention course materials,” says Faiza. “Our people would then deliver the training, and not just our health and safety colleagues but people from across the entire plant in different departments who were trained internally.”

And the insights on offer from L’Oréal Pune, which employs around 400 workers, were meticulously thought through in every detail.

Says Faiza: “We went to the site with translators in the local languages. Then we had a session to work with them and an assessment to understand their challenges. Then we did the survey on leakages and handrails. Finally, the outcome from the difficulties faced were conveyed to us. We then added our own observations before we worked to correct the issues.”

And any new equipment came with detailed training from workers at L’Oréal Pune. For example, the elderly recipients of the walkers were educated, “one by one”, on how to use them. This included a number of recipients who were previously unable to walk due to an absence of support.

“Two months later we had a feedback session to check the walkers were actually of benefit, and looking for any further accommodations they needed,” says Faiza.

The factory is currently investing in ‘smart canes’ for blind children that will enable them to detect danger from three metres away and features, including alarms.

Says Mayur: “No-one has ever come to these people before with some kind of talking about falls, trips and slips information. They are very thankful that an organisation such as L’Oréal has offered simple new things that can make a big difference.

“I have no words to express how meaningful this work feels. Life is priceless, and every step we take in helping to save a life is so important.”

Find out more about the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards at:

Preventing falls is a key priority for RoSPA. See:

Jane Warren

Jane Warren is a highly experienced freelance journalist, feature writer and non-fiction author. She has written for the Daily Express newspaper for over thirty years.


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