Workplace Safety Watch – March 2020

On 1 February, Sanjeev Kumar (42), working as an ammonia operator died from a gas leak in the maintenance unit of Haldiram’s. The building had 300 people working who had to be immediately evacuated.

On 1 February, Sunder Pal (35) and Akash Kumar (19) were burnt to death in a fire at a factory unit in Tronica City Industrial area, Ghaziabad. The fire was due to a short circuit at the vehicle filter manufacturing unit that blasted the boiler. The families of the deceased staged a sit-in with their bodies in a mini-truck demanding the arrest of Love Ahuja, the owner of Alfa Industries and the supervisor in the factory for negligence. An FIR has been registered under IPC section 304A (causing death by negligence) against the factory owner and the unit supervisor.

On 1 February, Manoj Chauhan, a construction worker working with Sita Rama Lift Irrigation project died when he fell off the wall while working at a pump house in Mulkalpally mandal. The police have registered a case and have begun inquiry.

On 3 February, Ravi (22) died of asphyxiation and Sanjay (35) critically injured after they were forced to clean a 15 feet deep sewer in east Delhi’s Karkardooma. Shanky, the contractor had employed five workers to unclog the sewer and was paying them Rs. 35 each. They were not provided with any protective gear. The police have registered a case.

On 8 February, seven workers ranging from ages 22 to 47 were killed in a fire at Nandan denim factory in Ahmedabad which supplies to US multinational brands like Zara, Ralph Lauren, Primark, Mango etc.  The only exit from the factory was via a steep ladder leading to a door.

On 19 February, film crewpersons assistant director Krishna, art assistant Chandran and production assistant Madhu were crushed to death under a crane that fell apart on a film set. It was a Kamal Hassan film under the production house Lyca Productions. The incident has brought to light how irresponsible Kollywood film industry has been in dealing with such incidents on set that are on the rise. There is no system in place to compensate injured or deceased workers or even insurance for stuntmen who undertake high-risk work.

On Feb 21., E Pandiarajan (28), P Vellaichamy (60), P Karthik (17) and on Feb 19., V Vijayakumar (42), K Muthulakshmi (38) and C Valliammal (50) died in an explosion at a fireworks factory in Chinnakamanpatti village of Tamil Nadu. The explosion happened while they were loading firecrackers in the truck spreading to the factory and they ended up sustaining severe burn injuries.

On Feb 25., Jageer Singh, a contractual employee of the municipal corporation who was the sole breadwinner of his family, died due to inhalation of toxic gases while cleaning a manhole in Navi Abadi area, Amritsar. Even after 30 hours after the incident officials of the operation and maintenance (O & M) wing were not aware of the incident. Municipal Corporations have had a history of violating the Supreme Court ban on manual scavenging.

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