Workplace Safety Watch – December 2019

Construction:

On 17 December, Rahul, a construction worker, died of electrocution upon coming in contact with a live wire hanging from a switchboard when he went downstairs to start the motor at Jumbo tower in Jamshedpur.

On 22 December, Mohammad Zuber (25) died after the lift at an under-construction building fell from the fourth floor while he was on it in Phase 8, Mohali. A case has been initiated under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Manufacturing:

On 8 December, 43 workers died and 16 were injured due to asphyxiation and burns in a fire that broke out in an illegal factory operating in Anaj Mandi in Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar. Most of the workers had been living and sleeping inside the factory premises. The Chief of Delhi Fire Services called it the second biggest fire in Delhi’s history. The source of the fire is suspected to be an electrical short circuit. The factory building was filled with combustible materials like plastic toys, bags and garments but no fire safety provisions were in place. The only exit of the building was locked from the outside by the factory owner. The owners have been booked under Section 304-A (causing death due to negligence) and Section 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

On December, Banwari Lal (48) died of asphyxiation in the fire at a textile mill godown where he was sleeping. The godown, Rosy Spinning Mills is located at Phase V of Focal Point in Ludhiana.  The fire station officer said that there were not enough fire extinguishers installed in the factory and water had not been arranged by the factory owner. No legal action is going to be taken against anyone.

On 23 December, Ram Chandra Jha (65), residents Sudariya Devi (58), Sanju Jha (36), Guddan, Udaykant Chaudhary (33) and his wife Muskan (26), their children Anjali (10), Adarsh (7) and three-month-old Tulsi died and ten others got injured in a fire leading to a cylinder blast at a residential building at the Indra Enclave area of Kirari in Rohini, Delhi that was illegally being used as a cloth godown. The building had a single staircase and no safety equipment. The police said that investigation is underway and a report shall be released soon.

Sanitation:

On 24 December, Santosh Kalshekar (43), Govind Charotiya (34) and Vishwajeet Devnath (32) died after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning a septic tank in Morya Cooperative Housing Society, Mumbai. Their families said that no safety gear was given to the three by the contractor before entering the tank. The police have registered the incident as an accidental death while further investigation is being carried out.

Others:

On 25 December, Ch. Sridhar (32) died and P Chandra Sekhar and P Appa Rao were hospitalised after inhaling poisonous gas at Vijayasri Organics Limited while adding solvent to a reactor in Jawaharlal Nehru Pharmacity in Vishakhapatnam. The Parawada police have registered a case and the investigation is on. The following day in the same Pharmacity, on 26 Dec., K Ajay Kumar (25) and T Satyanadh Tigar (26) died due to a gas leak in Smilax Laboratories Ltd. occurring when the AC unit and the exhaust system had stopped working. The negligence of Pharmacity companies is being questioned by workers who held a protest demanding criminal charges against the management.

Shyamjibhai Solanki (47) died of silicosis working with at a ceramic factory at Thangadh, the hub of ceramic sanitaryware industry in the Surendranagar district of Gujarat. Before Shyamjibhai, six people have died in Thangadh in the past year due to silicosis, many of who have not received compensation from the companies.

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