Friday, June 25, 2021
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Safety of workers

We read reports about the death of three persons in a sewer pipeline. Hydrogen Sulphide is a very dangerous gas found in sewage systems and great care must be exercised in sending workmen into such pipes where these gases will definitely be present. Very effective supervision is necessary and it is to be seen if workers can go with self contained breathing apparatus, otherwise man entry should not be permitted. Merely testing for gases at the entrance is not enough, fatal gases like H2S will be. present in isolated pockets. H2S is such a gas that you cannot smell and find it out, you will be fatally effected. It has to be checked with meters that are regularly calibrated and used by a trained person.

BMC has established a practice of assigning every job on contract basis instead of performing the task themselves. It only indicates that we still consider that manual work should be performed by poor persons only. Due to lack of good work culture, we are lagging behind in technical development. A picture depicting workers engaged in repairing work on the Byculla flyover without wearing safety shoes and safety goggle was printed in newspaper.

The officials of BMC and such other government organizations do not want to dirty their hands by performing various technical works. On board ships, we ourselves clean the sewage tank by following the permit to work system. We take the necessary precautions and do not send anyone alone to perform such a hazardous operation. At least all supervisors and even the workers must be asked to undergo H2S course (entry into enclosed spaces) and use of self contained breathing apparatus so that they are aware of dangers and how to negotiate them in a safe manner.

Training and supervision of the work force must be given importance by upholding the dignity of labour. The new government should give priority to create a strong and skilled work force for engaging them in various developmental projects like road construction, production of oil and gas and enhancing railway safety. Did you notice that the Konkan Railways had earlier employed the key man to patrol the track at an 8 km stretch which has now been reduced to 4 km stretch after the deadly accident which occurred between Panvel and Roha. This incident only goes to show that the senior officers never realized the enormity of the task involved.

Speed restrictions should have been enforced on older and susceptible tracks. The senior officials must undertake effective and personal supervision at the ground level in a periodical manner. Very effective and personal supervision on ground level is important for senior officers to undertake in a periodical manner. This is not happening because our ministers make a fuss for walking a few steps if their coach is not lined up directly in front of the main entrance. We must abandon this mindset forthwith and Modi must not take such publicity seeking people in his cabinet meeting abhor manual labour, who cannot walk and interact with the workmen.

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