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Sourcing and Procurement

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 BPM proactively provided a timely safety update that avoided potential health hazards for a mining company. This was highlighted and appreciated by the client's leadership as an example of how well Infosys BPM adopted the safety culture of the mining industry and how the sourcing and procurement function went beyond the normal duties and enhanced business value through safety.

We manage a number of Maintenance, Repairs and Operations (MRO) categories for the client. One such category is "Bearings". During a routine meeting with a key bearing supplier, the Infosys BPM category manager asked for safety bulletins that the supplier issued for his own workers, to highlight any relevant information that could be shared with the mining site’s end users.

The supplier shared a bulletin about Viton, a key component in various bearings and oil seals. Viton seals when heated to 300°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, death.

Understanding the gravity of the risk involved, the Infosys BPM category manager worked with the supplier and obtained a list of items that contained Viton and this list was shared with the safety functions of the client organisation. 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 contained Viton. Apart from this, a strong messaging presentation on the possible damages and precautions to be undertaken was developed and a communication plan was mapped out and executed along with the client, to ensure the message reached the right people in the company especially on supervisory levels. An HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) alert was also posted on the Knowledge Sharing portal of the client.

This incident resulted in educating business users about risks and mitigation steps to ensure that possibilities of mishaps or accidents were avoided. Overall, the client's Health and Safety record enhanced and the supplier relationship improved. Here are some more important pointers on health and safety I have learnt over the years.

Health And Safety Considerations In Outsourcing And Supplier Relationships

  • An outsourcing company needs to embrace the client's health and safety culture and identify the value safety brings for the business.
  • Safety as an accountability needs to be shared by the outsourced service provider and supplier ecosystem as well.
  • It is imperative that outsourced providers, especially those involved in sourcing or purchase, need to actively reach out to the mining client experts to have a fair understanding of the specifications and risks entailed. Such activities 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 materials and services being purchased. Relevant interventions need to be inbuilt as part of processes and evaluation criterion for RFPs and supplier assessments.

Do you have similar examples from your experiences where Sourcing and Procurement organisations have actively contributed towards the health and safety performance of the client? Write to us and let us know.