Workplace Safety Watch – October 2019

Construction

On 26 October, Masibur Rehman (24) and Mohammad Muslim (20) hailing from West Bengal and Bihar respectively died after falling from the 15th floor of an under construction building in Pune, Maharashtra. The duo was engaged in bringing down waste when the wire of the gondola lift snapped. The building was part of real-estate developer Siddhi Promoters’ Meghasrushti Project located in the Mahatma Society in Kothrud. Kothrud police have registered a case against Siddhi Promoters under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.

On 17 October, Surendran (56) was killed while he was working at an under-construction building cutting the iron railing of the staircase, when the machine suddenly broke and a blade of the cutting device broke and pierced his chest. He was not provided any safety equipment by his employers; even the cutting machine did not have the usual safety cover.

Manufacturing

On 7 October Raju Kumar (30) and Rajwinder Pathak (47) died of asphyxiation while Naginder Kumar (25) fainted when they were servicing the effluent treatment plant of Balram Textile Limited, Ludhiana, Punjab.

On 7 October, ten workers suffered breathlessness and irritation of the eye due to a gas leak at a paper mill in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. Workers were taken to the nearby hospital.

Sanitation

On 28 October, Jomon (40), Ajay Kumar (22) and one more unidentified worker die after inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning the biomass facilities of a rubber sheet manufacturing company in Edavanna, Kerala. 5 workers were engaged for the cleaning operations and none were provided safety gear. Police say Jomon and Ajay Kumar fainted on opening the tank and fell inside. The third worker also fainted and fell inside trying to rescue Jomon and Ajay Kumar.

On 22 October, Charan and Shivam Patel died and two other workers fell unconscious and were hospitalised after inhaling fumes while cleaning a peppermint factory’s tank in Katare Ke Purwa village of Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh. Police say on Charan failure to emerge from the tank, Shivam his brother followed but died as well. The two other workers fainted in attempting to rescue the brothers.

On 20 October, Sunil Palas (20) and Sukhram Mohaniya (30) died after falling into a 15-feet deep manhole near the Vishala Circle in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Both workers were employed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) through a contractor and were not provided any safety gear. The Additional Chief Fire Officer has pointed to the absence of gaseous formations in the manhole suggesting that the workers must have fallen when descending into the manhole while the police have filed an FIR and ordered a post-mortem be conducted, The AMC claims in its report that the workers were taking measurements for an under-construction water connection project and hence are not entitled to compensation under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The state government has placed photographs of the incident alongside the AMC report to show the concerned site was a water pipeline and has assured the court that it will file a detailed report. The case has been adjourned till 20 November.

On 6 October, Raju Kumar (30) and Rajwinder Pathak (47) died and Naginder Kumar (25) was critically injured and hospitalised after inhaling fumes which arose from pouring chemicals into an effluent treatment plant of Balrama Textiles Limited in Ludhiana, Punjab. All three were without safety gear. Police have stated that they will take action if family of the deceased file a case of negligence against the factory owner.

Others

On 17 October Senthil (37) and Armugam (33) died in an explosion while placing dynamite in a stone quarry near Erode, Tamil Nadu. Police investigated quarry owner, who has run the quarry since 2010 and employs around 50 workers. Workers have demanded that compensation be paid to deceased’s kin.

On 3 October, Niranjan (50) died and Satbir (50) was critically injured while setting up a public meeting venue in Barwala, Haryana for the BJP’s Barwala constituency candidate before the Haryana State Assembly Elections. Both workers worked without safety gear and were electrocuted while placing flags on iron rods, one of which was touching the 11,000-watt high tension electricity cable hanging overhead. Protests by Barwala Municipality Sweepers Union ensured that police have registered a case against the Chairman of Barwala municipality under sections 34 (common intent), 304-A (causing death by negligence) and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.

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