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Consider Week 1 As Trial: Government On Industry Restart Post Lockdown

Consider Week 1 As Trial: Government On Industry Restart Post Lockdown

New Delhi: All safety protocols should be followed and industries should not aim for high production targets as they restart operations when the nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus is lifted, the government has said, adding that the first week should be considered as "trial or test run period".

In its latest guidelines - issued on Saturday two days after an overnight gas leak at a chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam killed 11 people and affected at least 1,000 - the government has urged the industries to take precautions and ensure safety of their employees.

"Due to several weeks of lockdown and the closure of industrial units, it is possible that some of the operators might not have followed the established standard operating procedures. As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk. The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials," read the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority or NDMA to all the states and union territories.

A failed valve is suspected to have caused the leak at Visakhapatnam on Thursday. Investigators believe after 40 days of lockdown, gas pressure may have built up which caused toxic styrene gas to escape from an LG Polymers facility shut since 40 days. The government's fresh guidelines have elaborated the procedure to ensure safe storage of raw materials at the factory units.

"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," the statement further read.

There should be "24-hour sanitisation of the factory premises," according to the guidelines that stress on maintaining 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".

"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, " the statement underlined.

Health checks for employees to check the spread of coronavirus are also a part of the detailed statement that recommends: "Temperature checks of all employees to be done twice a day. Workers showing symptoms should not report to work."

The guidelines that "encourage a successful restart of the industrial units" also insist on a complete safety audit of the entire unit before resuming manufacturing process as the NDMA talks about several tests to minimise possibility of an unexpected event.

Factories that operate 24*7 at full production capacity should consider a one-hour gap between shifts, except the plants that require continuous operations, according to the government. Managerial and administrative staff should work one shift at 33 per cent capacity; the industrial units have to prepare accommodation to isolate workers, if needed.

A countrywide shutdown to tackle the pandemic began on March 25; it has been extended for the second time to May 17. The government has eased restrictions in some parts that are not affected by the outbreak.

(Inputs and image from ndtv.com)

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