Never-ending ordeals of employee safety

CIOL Bureau
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CHENNAI, INDIA: The month of August has seen scintillating scenes of the Beijing edition of Olympics and some not-so-happy scenes in Jammu and Kashmir and the never-ending saga of female employees getting sexually assaulted in BPO entities.


In one of the cases this month, a Chennai-based call center employee was arrested on charges of drugging and raping his colleague and this was followed by the Pune rape case that totally shocked everyone.

A female employed with the IBM (International Business Machines), as customer care executive, was gang raped by suspected cab drivers numbering 8 to 10.

A cautious approach


When CyberMedia News tried to contact police on the incidents they were not only cautious but also refused to give anything to speculate, and decided to let results speak.

Officials at IBM too refused to give a comment on the same. One can remember the trials and tribulations that Arushi Talwar’s murder case had gone through before the investigation completely took the authorities and the media by surprise.

This time around everyone is seeing to it that the privacy of the parties involved and the sensitivity of the matter remains intact. While that surely would hearten many who feel that media on its part need to play a pivotal role in handling and proper reporting of these cases.


Apart from these, companies have been giving utmost importance to employee safety as averred by Prashanth Menon, Senior Operations Manager, EmPower Research Services Pvt Ltd.

“In any organization the area most vulnerable for employee safety lapses is employee transport; as this is an area where all organizations work with a vendor, rather than running it on their own.”

He states that in his organization there is an Access Control System that allows access to only authorized people to the shop floors and also security guards man the building and office premises.


In addition to this, rigorous reference checks are done before signing a vendor and when the daily routing for employee drops are done, it is ensured that one male staff is there in the cab. Routing is done such that female staffs are dropped first, even if it is not the most efficient route.

NASSCOM (National Association for Software and Service Companies) in 2008 came out with a ‘Code of Conduct’ to bring across security for the employees in the BPO sector, making it a must for all those coming under the NASSCOM umbrella to strictly adhere to it.

“Technology has to be used in an effective way to curtail such issues and government and the industry has to work together in order to fight this one out,” stated Pramod Bhasin, CEO of Genpact.


One of the high points of the code of conduct says, “Employees should always charge their mobile phones before entering the cab; employees must necessarily store and save the helpline numbers in cases of emergencies.”

With companies focusing so much on employee safety, is it time for companies to talk Employee safety in the same breadth as Green IT initiatives?

“In my personal opinion, there is a lot of discussion around employee safety, and this topic probably enjoys more importance in an organization than green initiatives,” states Prashanth Menon.


“At EmPower Research, like I mentioned earlier, employee safety is thought of and factored for, while designing any new solution, or implementing any new process.”

Many of the managers and executives agree that employee safety is important but it should not be compared with other initiatives.

Is Employee Safety Measures Audit the need of the hour?


“There is an absolute need for companies to come out with a system to ensure and audit employee safety measures. Even if an organization does not have an external agency auditing their employee safety measures, there must be internal committee monitoring and ensuring employee safety initiatives,” says Menon. Some of the guidelines that this committee must follow are:

– A clear definition of safety goals and strategies

– An clear definition of responsibilities and accountability to achieve a safe work environment

– Safety Awareness talks and training

– A definite log of any previous incidents and solutions provided

While the nation sits and debates on every issue under the sun, the critical issues pertaining to the safety of women should also be discussed, debated without sensationalizing it.

If the government fails to formulate better policies the concerns over employee safety would continue to remain a never-ending saga!