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Workers Safety in Hazardous Industries

Context:

Recently, a Firecracker factory explosion in Madhya Pradesh kills 11 people, leaving many injured.

Relevance:

GS-3 Industry and Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. MP Firecracker Tragedy
  2. Hazardous Industry
  3. Way Forward

MP Firecracker Tragedy:

  • The explosion in a firecracker industry in Madhya Pradesh’s Harda district led to the death of 11 people and left 174 injured.
  • The incident began with a blast inside a tin shed storing gunpowder, which was followed by a second blast of higher intensity.
  • Preliminary investigates states that the factory did not follow safety precautions and the building did not even have a fire extinguisher.

Hazardous Industry

  • Occasional accidents in an industry dealing in explosive materials may seem inevitable.
  • But the probability of such mishaps can certainly be reduced by adopting safe work practices, complying with rules and through cohesive monitoring by Central and State licensing and enforcement authorities.
  • Crackdowns against violators have been few and far between despite illegal sub-leasing of works to unlicensed cottage units becoming a widely acknowledged practice in the industry.

Way Forward

  • The Chaitanya Prasad Committee, which examined, among other things, statutory and administrative shortcomings that led to the death of 40 workers at Om Shakti Fireworks Industries in 2012, noted the “conspicuous absence” of proper inspection mechanisms at various government departments.
  • The committee recommended making sub-leasing of works by licensed units a cognisable penal offence; mandated inter-safety distances between sheds covered with earthen mounds; and provision of a smoothened pathway with a width of 1.5 metres, as part of industrial safety measures.
  • Ground reports suggest these recommendations continue to be ignored, with sub-leasing of works still rampant.
  • Regulators understandably complain of a lack of manpower in checking violations.
  • The number of players has exponentially grown since the 1980s with 1,070 licensed units employing an estimated 10 lakh workers now. But safety is non-negotiable.
  • The governments must walk the extra mile to enforce rules in a hazardous industry and prosecute violators.
  • The industry too must self-regulate in its own interest.

-Source: The Indian Express


February 2024
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