After Vizag gas leak, MHA issues guidelines on restarting manufacturing industries

10 May, 2020 | Priyanka Sharma

Vizag gas leak National

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday has issued guidelines to restart manufacturing industries before and after the lockdown. The guidelines have been issued after the gas leak at Vizag earlier t...

Days after the Visakhapatnam gas leak incident, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday issued guidelines to be followed while resuming production at manufacturing industries during and after the lockdown. The guidelines have been issued keeping in mind that mechanical, electrical and chemical equipment, which may not have been maintained during the lockdown may pose a risk to the health of workers. The Member Secretary GVV Sarma of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has written a letter to all state and Union territories’ Chief Secretaries detailing the guidelines.

“Due to several weeks of lockdown and the closure of industrial units during the lockdown period, it is possible that some of the operators might not have followed the established standard operating procedure (SOP). As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves, etc. may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk. The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials,” said Sarma.

“When Lockout/Tagout procedures are not in place, many energy sources can prove to be hazardous to operators/supervisors who are servicing or maintaining electrical, mechanical or chemical equipment. When heavy machinery and equipment are not maintained periodically, they can become dangerous for operators/engineers. Combustible liquids, contained gaseous substances, open wires, conveyor belt,” he added.

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He has asked all the responsible officers of the district to ensure the Industrial On-Site Disaster Management Plans are also in place and cover Standard Operating Procedures for safe re-starting of the industries during and after COVID 19 lockdown. Asserting that the first week of restarting the manufacturing units must be considered a test run period or trial, he has also advised people to not try to achieve high production targets.

“To minimise the risk it is important that employees who work on specific equipment are sensitised and made aware of the need to identify abnormalities like strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding or other potentially hazardous signs which indicate the need for immediate maintenance or if required shutdown,” mentioned the guidelines.

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The following generic guidelines have been issued:

*While restarting the unit, consider the first week as the trial or test run period; ensure all safety and protocols, and do not try to achieve high production targets,” says MHA.

*To minimise the risk it is important that employees who work on specific equipment are sensitised and made aware of the need to identify abnormalities like strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding or other potentially hazardous signs which indicate the need for immediate maintenance or if required shutdown.

*Inspection of all equipment as per the safety protocols during the restart phase.

The ministry has also issued specific guidelines for storage of raw material and products and for manufacturing processes.

For workers, the MHA in its guidelines has advised for 24 hours sanitisation of the factory premises.

For entrance health checks, it said, temperature checks of all employees should be done twice a day and workers showing symptoms should not report to work. Gloves, masks and hand sanitisers should be provided at all factories and manufacturing units among other things.

The countrywide lockdown which was imposed on March 25, is slated to end on May 17.

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