CHENNAI: Gone are the days when having Safety Officers (SO) on a construction site or an engineering plant was more for form than for effect. But with stricter implementation of safety laws in India and the huge demand for SOs in the Middle East, the number of graduating SOs is set to jump through the roof.
“We have already seen a demand for them steadily increasing over the years. Less than a decade ago, we had less than a 1,000 students at our school. The last two years have seen over 5,000 to 6,000 students enrolled and graduating. This number is expected to double in the coming years,” asserted M V Thomas, director of TUV Rheinland NIFE, a vocational training institute with centres in over a 100 places in India. The institute recently received the National Skill Development Corporation’s recognition for its courses.
“The Construction Workers’ Safety Act is being implemented very strictly now. We have seen our students constantly being placed in major construction companies because a construction site can no longer operate wiithout a qualified safety officer,” said Thomas. And now, freshly-graduated Safety officers earn salaries in excess of Rs 25,000 a month within a year at their jobs. Those who go abroad earn even more. “This may not sound very high, atleast for those who work in India. But considering the profile of the students, it is substantial,” pointed out Thomas. The courses offered by TUV Rheinland NIFE span across Fire Safety and Lift Technology, which last for a year, and Fibre Optics and Inventory and Stores, which last for four months. The eligibility for both courses is just a Class 10 pass certificate as per NSDC rules. The fee is Rs 80,000 for Fire Safety and Lift Technology and Rs 40,000, for the other two.
“The Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Middle East) have some of the largest budgets for safety officers currently. The oil companies there generate a huge demand for these officers, nearly 25 per cent of our students are currently working in this region,” he said.