A safe workplace is like a wicketkeeper in the Indian cricket team. The only time they get a mention is when there is a mistake. But at the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) factory at Goblej in Gujarat, a new record for no errors has been attained.

The factory located in the industrial area in Kheda district of a state known for entrepreneurship and people’s unique skills of problem solving, the Goblej factory has been running incident-free for 5 million hours.

That means there has been no loss time injury – not a single day has been lost due to any injury to a worker.

A little bit of trivia will help understand the enormity of the achievement. For as long as this factory has run incident free (knock on wood!), we could have travelled from Earth to Pluto and come back, 30 times. Phew!

It has taken sustained effort to bring about the change. The factory took to the safety drive on the back of bringing about a culture change for over 700 employees. The emphasis was on addressing the small things that could have major consequences.

To begin with, safety was made everyone’s priority, both in spirit and in action. All employees have safety deliverables and behaviours built into their key result areas (KRAs) for the year. What’s more, there are daily, weekly and monthly calendars that define an employee’s safety deliverables for the defined period.

A safety committee chaired by the factory manager and comprising of workmen as well as managers, reviews the adherence to safety routines. It also outlines issues, risks and solutions if any, and then again reviews them the following month.

The ‘Daily Tool Box Talk’ at Goblej, must begin with a safety briefing and reinforcement. In a factory as large as the one in Goblej, this means 10-15 Tool Box Talks per shift. On a good day, the factory runs in three shifts, ensuring that these messages are reinforced more than 40 times per day.

The factory management has always been alive to the idea that one of the potential causes of a mishap is when equipment or a machine in the factory is idle. Strange as it may sound, this is the time when equipment or a machine is undergoing maintenance. Since these factories are large, a team or a person working on a particular section of a line or machine may not easily get noticed. That left a chance that someone else could put the line or machine to work.

To prevent such an eventuality, the factory implemented the most optimal system of lockouts and tag outs. Not just that, there are 3600 safety guards for protecting people from the moving parts of the machines and equipment. All of these are inspected periodically by the area operators to ensure their effective functioning. There are 290 lockouts identified and tagged. Not just that, there are 3600 safety guard tools that block the area around an equipment / section or machine, when repair or maintenance work is in progress.

Training has buttressed the importance of the good practices. At least 250 hours of training focused on safety is on the annual calendar of the safety team and the factory manager.

All hired contractors that may have to work at the factory for any non-routine work - as minor as fixing a leaking nozzle, cannot do so till he/she has undergone detailed training and assessment of the requisite capability. The exercise takes a minimum of 2 hours of training every quarter. Work permit is only given after the training to every team member of the contractor.

Given its size, the Goblej factory has issued the maximum number of work permits in the year. It is often said in jest at Goblej that a 15-minute fix at any other factory is a 2 hour 30-minute exercise at Hindustan Coca-Cola, Goblej. It just ensures everyone’s safety.

The factory was recently commemorated for its stellar work on safety by the CEO of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, Christina Ruggiero.

The wheels continue to chug at Goblej.