Despite COVID-19, Essar keeps the wheels of India’s economy turning
As nations across the world put in their best efforts to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are doing all they can to stay afloat. Businesses that are categorised as essential services have a greater responsibility – to ensure safe operations, deliver services despite lockdown restrictions and resultant lack of manpower resources, and keep up employee motivation, while helping them tackle lockdown-related stress.
Essar’s portfolio businesses have been quick to re-adjust to the ‘new normal’. The Essar Global Fund Limited (EGFL) is a global investor, owning a number of world-class assets diversified across the core sectors of Energy (comprising Exploration & Production, Refining & Marketing and Power businesses), Infrastructure (comprising Ports and EPC businesses), Metals & Minerals, Services (comprising Shipping, and Oilfield services), and Technology (comprising Technology Solutions, Mobile Wallet, Device protection and Customer experience).
The portfolio companies have aggregate revenues of about USD 14 billion and employ over 7,000 people. In India, EGFL has substantial presence, especially in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
Essar Foundation, the CSR arm of the company, has over the last 50 years positively impacted the communities living in the vicinity of Essar’s operations. On an annual basis it makes a difference to the lives of 5 lakh individuals across 500 villages in the country.
Referring to Essar’s efforts to fight the pandemic, Kaustubh Sonalkar, President – Corporate HR and CEO – Essar Foundation, said “Essar is working on multiple fronts as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. With regards COVID-related relief work, we are working at the grassroots with a pan-India reach. Foundation has pledged to provide 20 lakh meals to marginalised communities, and 1.55 lakh units of medical supplies to Corona warriors. Essar’s focus is also on sustaining essential business services that are critical to the economy, and ensuring that stringent safety standards are in place to curb the risk of infection. In such a crisis, balancing community responsibility with business continuity becomes critical for any responsible corporate, and Essar is surely showing the way!”
In the wake of the pandemic, the announcement of a lockdown came as a bolt from the blue for Essar just like several other organisations. However, true to its ethos of perseverance and positivity, the team used innovative ways to manage the crisis at hand. What is also working in its favour during these times is an age-old and well-established safety culture.
To ensure safety of employees, a work-from-home policy was implemented at the corporate offices. However, to continue to deliver essential services from facilities and plant locations with minimal staff, social distancing and lockdown protocols were the key challenges to be overcome.
Minimal human intervention during Essar Ports’ operations
Essar’s Ports business falls under the essential services category. Its state-of-the-art mechanised facilities at Hazira, Salaya, Paradip & Vizag, already had minimal human intervention, thereby enabling social distancing. Apart from that, Essar Ports put in place operational guidelines, in compliance with all government guidelines, to ensure employee safety. The operations at the port terminals are in full swing, and the business continues to deliver services to its customers in the most safe, secure & efficient manner.
Safety protocol being ensured across all terminals of Essar Ports
Social distancing is key at Essar Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Limited
At Essar’s Oil & Gas Exploration & Production business, shutting down round-the-clock operations was not an option as the Nation has a constant need for energy. Taking stock of the problem, and under the guidance of the management, the production department strategize for 24-hour operations with minimal crew members. Proper precautionary measures for self-protection were combined with statutory safety guidelines and social distancing norms.
The team was also prepared for all emergency scenarios that could possibly develop in the wake of limited staff and the lockdown. With assistance from the HSE team, special safety guidelines for COVID-19 were laid down.
Essar’s Oil & Gas Exploration & Production business ensures social distancing at workplace
These include using masks by all, sanitising of vehicles being used, distancing of workstations at the office, and restricting passengers in transport vehicles to two, thereby maintaining a minimum of one metre distance even while travelling together. The team is vigilant about the dos and don’ts in this situation.
They are not only taking care of themselves, but also ensuring sanitisation of the visiting drivers. Social distancing, minimal exchanging of documents, and body temperature checking at the entrance, have all been incorporated in their schedule.
Detailed sanitisation protocol followed across all Essar Power sites
Safety protocols have also been initiated at Essar Power’s Mahan (Madhya Pradesh), Paradip (Odisha), Hazira (Gujarat) and Salaya (Gujarat) sites. A detailed sanitation protocol is followed at all the sites, which includes daily temperature checks of all employees visiting the site and daily site sanitation. Employees make use of the face masks, sanitisers and gloves given to them, while maintaining social distancing protocols.
Hygiene kits consisting of masks, hand sanitisers and soaps have been provided to all the employees and their families at Paradip. Also, to ease the burden of commuting, accommodation has been provided to contract labourers at Paradip, and to the technicians at Hazira & Salaya.
Hygiene checks and sanitisation being conducted across locations at Essar Power
While working from home is largely perceived to be a boon, the lockdown-related constraints, depressive news streaming in every day on COVID, ‘work-life re-balance’ and lack of human interactions can cause anxiety and stress. Hence in the current circumstances, employee safety takes a whole new meaning. Corporates are trying to ensure the psychological well-being and monitor stress levels of their employees.
With many of Essar’s workforce working from home, the company was quick on its feet to address these challenges. Using technology and a creative approach to its advantage, Essar launched internal platforms, like Essar Learning TV and Essar Radio, to maintain the connection with all its employees. While EssarRadio enables employees to hear senior leaders speak, their conversations interspersed with peppy songs, EssarLearningTV ensures that employees learn new skills from the comfort of their homes!
While the world unites to face the “new normal” triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, corporates like Essar are showing the way on how a crisis of this magnitude can be tackled and safely tided over. The need of the hour is that our businesses not just support those in need, but also remain vigilant and conduct safe operations. A well-entrenched 360-degree approach to safety & health is going a long way in ensuring sustainability.