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February 27, 2019

Imbibing Safety as a Culture - A Procurement Outsourcing Focus.


The culture of safety is a mandatory requirement  for the mining industry because mining simply is dangerous work. The concept of "safety as a habit" needs to be practiced not only at mining sites but also at the workplace to ensure that importance of safety is understood by each and every employee, including the support staff of outsourced service partners. 

I remember an incident where a category manager from Infosys proactively provided a timely safety update that avoided health hazards for a mining company.  This was highlighted and appreciated by the client's leadership as an example of how well Infosys has adopted the safety culture of the mining industry and how the sourcing and procurement function has gone beyond the normal duties and enhanced the value through safety. 

We manage a number of MRO categories for the client. One  such category  is "Bearings". During a routine meeting with a key bearing supplier, the Infosys category manager asked for the safety bulletins that the supplier issues for their own workers, to see if there were any relevant information that should be shared with the mining site end users. The supplier shared a bulletin about Viton, a key component in various bearings and oil seals. Viton seals when heated to 300-degree C or above, produces Hydrofluoric acid which can be extremely lethal and fatal when exposed to or absorbed. Highly concentrated exposure may lead to acute hypocalcaemia, followed by cardiac arrest and ultimately lead to  death.

Understanding the gravity of the risk involved , the Infosys category manager worked with the supplier and obtained a list of items that contain Viton and this list was shared with the safety functions of the client organization. The supplier was also requested to immediately start marking these parts with a mandatory distinctive warning tag to mitigate any misuse and risks with clear instructions.  An alert was extended for all Bearings and Oil Seals from various other suppliers that contain Viton.  Apart from this, we also developed a strong messaging presentation on the possible damage and precautions and worked with the client to develop and execute a communication plan to ensure the messaging reached the right echelons in the company especially supervisory levels.  An HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) alert was posted on the Knowledge Sharing portal of the client. 

This incident resulted in the education of business users regarding the risks and mitigation steps to ensure that a possible mishap and accident was avoided. Overall client's Health and Safety record was enhanced and supplier relationship was improved. Some other learnings that I have acquired over the years are:

  • An outsourcing company needs to embrace the client's work culture by an outsourcing service provider and the value it generates. 
  • Safety as accountability needs to be shared by the outsourced service provider and supplier ecosystem as well
  • It is imperative that the outsourcing provider, especially those involved in Sourcing or purchase need to acquaint themselves and actively reach out to the mining client experts to have a fair understanding of specification and risks entailed- these should be made part of Standard operating procedures, processes and evaluation criterion.
  • Safety requirements need to be understood on a case to case basis - depending on the type of material and services being purchased and relevant interventions need to be inbuilt as part of processes and evaluation criterion for RFPs and supplier assessments.
Do you have any similar examples from your experiences where Sourcing and procurement organization has actively contributed towards the Health and Safety performance of an organization? Please do write to us.

Authored By

Durgesh Srivastava 

Principal Consultant - Solution Design

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