Bangalore-based civil engineers and contractors, the KNK Group, bagged the first prize for Construction Project Site Safety during the National Safety Awards this year. Ranjani Govind takes a look at the virtues required for this achievement

KNK Swamy & Co., civil engineers and contractors, have bagged the first prize for Construction Project Site Safety during the 43 National Safety Awards on the occasion of National Safety Week celebrations. Ashish Krishnaswamy, Director, KNK Group, received the award from Minister for Labour, P.T. Parameshwara Naik, at Bellary early this week. “The safety awards instituted by the Department of Factories and Boilers were the result of a State-level competition where 200 applicants criss-crossed various categories. To qualify for the competition, the project in question had to be above Rs. 25 crore, taken up in 2013,” explains Ashish.

KNK’s project that entered the competition fray was the building of Chemizol Lubricants at Bidadi in Bangalore where 250 workers were deployed, with Mindspace being the architects and Potential being the project management consultants. “We have had five lakh safe man hours to our credit with no accidents. It was a fast track construction, with a built area of two lakh sq. ft on a sprawling five-acre campus. What we cherish is the fact that our focus on this Rs. 28 crore project will meet the deadline and we will get the structure ready in 201 days,” says Ashish.

The parameters

There were several strictures that had to be followed for bagging the coveted title, as every stage of construction had to follow safety guidelines. Ashish says site workers have to be registered as beneficiaries under the building and other construction workers (BOCW) welfare board. Safety officers at the site were regularly on patrol, the ISO certification was in place, and welfare measures and medical facilities are prime on the list.

“Statutory requirements apart, we go one step further and provide welfare conveniences and comforts. We don’t allow children anywhere near the construction site, we provide crèche facilities for the children of our labour force and canteen at the site. Their medical requirements, accommodation and sanitation are undertaken by us. Our employment of labour is akin to having a partnership with them, just as the trust developed amongst us has helped us never face a labour shortage. ‘Extracting’ the most has never been our mindset; it is a short-sighted view. We have some workers who are with us for the last 20 years!” he says. So, how does he feel about the KNK Group getting the first prize?

“When we stood second two years ago we had set further standards for ourselves, and that also encouraged us to do better, which is the idea behind the award. Now, with us being the first, it is the beginning of the journey of responsibility,” says Ashish. Regulation brought about in the construction sector by the government departments may cost a bit more, but it is the best way to garner ‘responsible construction,’ he says. “This new sensibility is fast creeping in as both employer and contractor have started feeling the sense of conscientiousness and accountability. When we took up the BIOCON project for 25 underground sumps of 4 to 5 lakh litres liquid capacity with a lifetime leak-proof safety angle to it, both of us had to understand the need and work towards our goal. Remember, only four per cent of our construction sector is qualified. For all of us, every project is a classroom, teaching and learning going on simultaneously,” says Ashish.