The National Disaster Management Authority has released guidelines for reopening industries after lockdown, the precautions to be taken for the safety of the plants as well as the workers. These guidelines came in the wake of the Vizag Gas leak which led to hundreds of people falling sick and the death of at least eleven people.
In a communication to the states the NDMA said that due to the extended lockdown period and closure of the industrial units, some operators may not have taken into account the standard operating procedures. This could have resulted in residual chemicals still being present in valves and pipes that could be harmful. As a response to the gas leak, the guidelines say that the first week should be used as a trial run after ensuring all safety protocols are in place. “While restarting the unit, consider the first week as the trial or test run period; ensure all safety protocols, and try not to achieve high production targets,” said the order, adding that employees be sensitised to identify abnormalities such as strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding or other potentially hazardous signs requiring urgent attention.
The State governments have been told to ensure, through the district officials concerned, that the off-site disaster management plan of the respective Major Accidental Hazard (MAH) units are up-to-date.
It said, companies should not try to achieve high production targets. There should be 24-hour sanitisation of the factory premises. The factories need to maintain a sanitisation routine every two-three hours especially in the common areas that include lunch rooms and common tables which will have to be wiped clean with disinfectants after every single use, it added.
For accommodation, the NDMA said, sanitisation needs to be performed regularly to ensure worker safety and reduce the spread of contamination. The employers should be provided with hand sanitisers, masks, face protection shields, and PPEs, ensure 24-hour sanitization of the factory premises, accommodation of workers should also be sanitised regularly, and their temperature checked twice a day. Those showing symptoms should not report to work.
The disaster management authority said that in order to minimise the risk and to encourage a successful restart of the industrial units, the following guidelines are being issued:
1. While restarting the unit, consider the first week as the trial or test run period; ensure all safety protocols; and not try to achieve high production targets.
2. To minimize the risk it is important that employees who work on specific equipment are sensitized 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 an immediate maintenance or if required shutdown.
3. Especially during the Covid-19 times, ensure all lockout and tagout procedures are in place on a daily basis (not applicable for units running 24hrs).
4. Inspection of all equipment as per the safety protocols during the restart phase
5. In case the industry has any difficulty in managing crucial backward linkages that may be critical for their safe functioning, they should approach the local district administration for specific assistance. District Magistrates may be instructed to ensure that in such instances, the industrial unit may be facilitated to run their end to end operations, in the overall interests of industrial security.
The order said, “Check for already opened storage vessels, containers, bags or silos for possible oxidation/chemical reaction/rusting/ rotting, etc. HAZMAT chemicals in the storage need to be checked for chemical stability before using for any processes.”
“Ensure the arrangement for round-the-clock emergency crews/professional technical teams provided with MAH and cluster of MAH should have extended coverage of 200 km to reach transport accident spots for help,” it said.
Managerial and administrative staff should work one shift at 33% capacity, but overriding priority should be given to those dealing with safety. The employees should not share tools or workstations to the extent possible.
The detailed list of specific guidelines have been given here