Safety in Manufacturing Plants post COVID-19
2020 is a year of global disturbances and every disturbance demands dealership with caution. No sooner were we faced with a threatening pandemic than the Vizag gas leak surfaced and killed a dozen more leaving hundreds under hospital treatment. It clearly reveals how dangerous resumption of operations can be post a lockdown.
Furthermore, initial assessments unveiled disturbing facts about LG Polymers, the company responsible for the vapour leak. It was found that the organization had not obtained the necessary environmental clearance for handling the quantities of polymer that it did from the competent authority and was merely operating on the basis of a clearance from the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board! That’s not all, here’s where it gets worse.
According to a former bureaucrat, the Andhra Pradesh PCB had apparently neither taken clearance from the State Government nor from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. So the question emerges – ‘How was the Consent for Establishment (CFE) and the Consent for Operation (CFO) granted in the first place?’ It allowed the unit to expand since the beginning of 2019 without clearances!
Following the Vizag tragedy, the NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) has issued fresh guidelines for the containment of COVID-19 while reopening production units. They have specifically stated that thorough inspection of equipment in the plant must be done before re-commencement and the first week of operations must be treated as a trial week. NO PRODUCTION TARGETS MUST BE CHASED IN THAT WEEK.
In order to convey the gravity of the pandemic situation, a few guidelines come to mind:
- All factories must adhere to a sanitation routine every 2-3 hours in places of gathering such as lunch rooms, conference rooms, etc (accommodation facilities included)
- Provision for PPE (masks, hand gloves, etc) and hand sanitizers for all
- 2 temperature checks for all employees on the premises every day (workers displaying symptoms to not show up at all)
- No sharing of tools to avoid any contact
- Social distancing norms to be strictly adhered to by creating barriers in the cafeteria / conference rooms, etc
- All places and shared surfaces must be disinfected after use even if used for a limited period time
- IF ANYBODY ON THE PREMISES IS TESTED POSITIVE, FACTORIES MUST ARRANGE ACCOMMODATION FOR A 14 DAY ISOLATION FOR ALL WORKERS (HR to provide support)
Moreover, the spreading of awareness among workers becomes paramount in such a situation. All safety measures must be clearly circulated and communicated in order to maintain a safe workplace. Even storage facilities have been directed to disinfect / sanitize finished goods and deliver in batches.
The financial distress caused to many such units during lockdown and in taking the above precautions may add to the pressure of unachieved targets and but better be safe than sorry. A lot needs to be done to contain the pandemic yet survive the business – only if the norms are followed.
Are you OHSAS : 14001 compliant?
Are your consents in place?
Is the documentation of SOPs in order?
Are your workmen adequately skilled for the job?
Voracious reading regimes coupled with a penchant for writing led me away from a glamorous yet mundane corporate career. When nobody's calling, the mountains always are - you'll invariably find me atop one.