Police personnel try to control the villagers as they stage a protest against LG Polymers industry after the chemical gas leakage incident, demanding immediate closure of the plant, at RR Venkatapuram village in Visakhapatnam.(PTI)
Police personnel try to control the villagers as they stage a protest against LG Polymers industry after the chemical gas leakage incident, demanding immediate closure of the plant, at RR Venkatapuram village in Visakhapatnam.(PTI)

NDMA issues guidelines for restarting manufacturing units

The authority has said industries to consider the first week of restarting any machinery or chemical unit as the “trial or test” period and “not try to achieve high production targets”.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Neeraj Chauhan | Edited by: Meenakshi Ray
UPDATED ON MAY 10, 2020 01:54 PM IST

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued detailed guidelines for manufacturing industries on measures they have to take when they restart units, days after the gas leak at a plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam that killed 12 people.

The authority has said industries to consider the first week of restarting any machinery or chemical unit as the “trial or test” period and “not try to achieve high production targets”.

“Due to several weeks of lockdown and the closure of industrial units during the lockdown period, it is possible that some of the operators might not have followed the established SOP (standard operating procedure). As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves, etc. may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk. The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials,” NDMA said on Saturday.

“When Lockout/Tagout procedures are not in place, many energy sources can prove to be hazardous to operators/supervisors who are servicing or maintaining electrical, mechanical or chemical equipment. When heavy machinery and equipment are not maintained periodically, they can become dangerous for the operators/engineers,” it added.

“Combustible liquids, contained gaseous substances, open wires, conveyor belts and automated vehicles make manufacturing facilities a high-risk environment. Improper enforcement of safety codes and improperly labelled chemicals can further pose serious health hazards.”

To minimise the risk at any unit, the guidelines said, employees who work on specific should be 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 an immediate maintenance or if required shutdown.

The factories or units have to also ensure that all lockout and tagouts, the specific practices and procedures to ensure the safety employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, are in place on a daily basis and inspection of all equipment as per the safety protocols carried out during the restart phase.

The guidelines ask the industry to take the help of local administration in case it has any difficulty in managing crucial backward linkages that may be critical for their safe functioning.

District magistrates have been asked to ensure that, in such instances, the industrial unit may be facilitated to run their end to end operations, in the overall interests of industrial security.

NDMA has also detailed the steps that specific industry needs to take when they reopen.

For example, storage or raw material units have been asked to inspect any signs of spills, wear and tear during the lockdown.

They have also been asked to check for already opened storage vessels, containers, bags or silos for possible oxidation, chemical reaction, rusting or rotting etc as well as check supply pipelines, valves or conveyor belts for any signs of damage or wear and tear.

The manufacturing units have been told to carry out a complete safety audit of the entire unit before taking up starting activities and they should first clean the pipelines, equipment and discharge lines.

Factories working 24 hours have been asked to consider one hour gap between shifts, except factories/plants requiring continuous operations.

They have also been asked to operate with 33% managerial and administrative staff as per the Union ministry of home affairs’ (MHA’s) guidelines but while deciding which particular person to be included at any given point of time, overriding priority should be given to personnel dealing with safety.

Factories are also to prepare accommodation to isolate workers if needed.

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