Does shopfloor safety make a difference? – The Avinash Kawadkar Blog

Let us look at the subject of safety from a user perspective. The general sentiment is: Why look at safety at all? After all, can things not take care of safety all by themselves? Or there must be “someone” to look after it? Or, the safety department must take care.

13 Apr 2015 | By Avinash Kawadkar

The general sentiment is: Why look at safety at all? After all, can things not take care of safety all by themselves? Or there must be “someone” to look after it? Or, the safety department must take care. 

Is that what we think? We could not be more wrong then. So, why safety?

Safety is important to safeguard:

  • Human Life
  • Reputation of the organization
  • Property
  • Environment 

Before going any further, let us make an attempt to classify the risks arising out of safety. It can perhaps be classified into the following list as hazards:

  • Physical – falling, slipping, tripping etc.
  • Mechanical – failure of equipment, especially to material handling equipment
  • Electrical – naked wires, short circuits, water seepage into walls etc.
  • Chemical – Flammable, combustible, corrosive, toxic, non-biodegradable etc.
  • Shop floor – poor ventilation, lighting, blocked emergency exists etc.

Among the above, this article intends to address hazards related to chemicals handling in the press room.

It may sound slightly repetitive, but it is important to drill down a step further. We must ask ourselves, why should we look at hazards?

Hazards can lead to 

  • Personal injury
  • Spillage of chemicals
  • Damage to products 
  • Fire

When we relate chemicals and the pressroom, the obvious focus is on solvent-based chemistry, or what is generally known as wash, which can be either water miscible or immiscible. These are the petroleum hydrocarbon based products used for ink cleaning from rollers and blankets of the press.

[Washes: Aromatic or aliphatic is the question?]

The solvents used in India can be generally classified into three categories as defined by the law that is, Class A, B and C. In common man’s language this can be called as – Highly flammable, Flammable and Combustible.

The storage of these products requires one to have a license. The flash points and daily storage quantity with and without a license are clearly defined by the law. In case of highly flammable products, the licensing comes under explosives act.

Ask your chemical supplier for MSDS (material safety data sheet) for every chemical product that you use.

Look for symbols on the product labels that depict the nature of the hazard that the product may have and then take appropriate care while using it. Few examples of symbols are as under:

Quite a few low-cost and/or fly by night players do not take care of such safety aspects. Be wary of such suppliers when making a purchase decision. It is advisable to ensure that your supplier has the ability to train your people in an ongoing manner and keeps abreast with current technological advances.

Some of the following pre-emptive steps may come into statutory compliance. The Reader can write to and register to get safety audit of his/her work place done.

Hazardous Chemicals can be made safe to handle, store and transfer when they are in packed condition – therefore ensure no damage to packing. Separating hazardous and non-hazardous stocking practice, however, can help.

Preemptive steps and Safe practices.

  • ·          Read, Understand and follow instructions on\
  • o    Labels 
  • o    MSDS  (Material Safety Data Sheet)
  • ·          Keep away from sources of ignition like naked flames, wires etc.
  • ·          Spill control measures should be easily accessible
  • ·          Demarcate no smoking zones
  • ·          Provide for suitable numbers of fire extinguishers and sand buckets, give it on AMC for regular upkeep
  • ·          Keep emergency exit clutter free
  • ·          Provide for adequate ventilation
  • ·          Train staff
  • ·          Provide for first aid box and audit it periodically
  • ·          Display emergency contact numbers
  • ·          Restrict unauthorized entry
  • ·          Know your neighboring activities
  • ·          Use appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment)

There will, of course, be a few more.


Safety is everybody’s responsibility.

Safety does not start (and end) with the safety department.

Give attractive incentives for adhering to safe work record.

Print safely.