Vikrant Trilokekar discovered a passion for Health & Safety (H&S) as a post-graduate student and 25 years later it still burns bright…
When studying for an MSc in Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M University in the USA, Vikrant Trilokekar supported himself as a teaching assistant in the mechanical engineering department – and was warned that if a single injury was recorded during the semester, he would be replaced. Vikrant really needed the job, so that warning kick-started his enthusiasm for H&S.
“From the outset, I believed H&S is everyone’s responsibility, both individually and collectively and so my solution was to put the students into small groups with one (rotating) person in charge of safety. It worked well and I kept my job! Fast forward through a career across the US, Europe and Asia in manufacturing engineering, R&D, product development, supply chain and P&L management and I have reached the firm conclusion that safety is not just a measurement function but a pivotal management role.”
Following his appointment as MD Smiths Detection India, with additional responsibility for overseeing all Smiths Group companies in the region, Vikrant was keen to introduce his H&S methodology. He started by visiting the 40 plus sites across the country, meeting all the teams to discuss his philosophy and help them understand the importance of safeguarding themselves and their colleagues.
“I quickly established the idea of bringing fresh eyes to safety audits as well as introducing un-announced visits and also periodic night audits as our airports operate 24/7. Service Managers from the south would carry out audits in the north and vice-versa. I then took this cross auditing a step further by involving other Smiths Group companies and members of my senior management team. I personally do two audits every month to ensure I stay in touch with front line staff – it’s important they know that management will always have their backs on matters of safety.”
Another early development in 2019 was establishing a Group Working Council to drive a strong safety culture, best practices and innovative solutions. This collaboration helped to ensure common goals could be achieved. When COVID hit, the same team worked together to set protocols and introduce a new wellness section. The Council also helped Group companies in the APAC & ME regions to establish a wellness and engagement initiative to support staff working remotely during the pandemic.
Vikrant and his H&S team received a divisional Smiths Group Excellence Award for their contributions to safety through effective initiatives. Other key innovations have included:
- An expanding team of H&S ambassadors to cascade messages throughout the huge regional geography.
- Group-wide safety sessions covering topics such as first aid training, mindfulness, road safety awareness, ergonomics and healthy movement at work.
- A workplace safety award recognising exceptional commitment to occupational health, safety and well-being. Given quarterly across the Smiths Group companies and leading up to an annual ‘best of the best’ award’.
- Group-wide National Safety Week celebrations with a range of activities to engage and educate.
“The result of our efforts is a more H&S savvy workforce who are regularly interacting with senior management and have, therefore, become more engaged and inspired to make their environments safer. My ambition has always been to make a difference and find ways to contribute – and I am very happy to roll up my sleeves and get involved. Every time I fly anywhere, I go to the airport a couple of hours early and meet the on-site team for a coffee and a chat. I fully believe the personal involvement of senior management is vital to the success of our initiatives.”