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Focus on safety at the workplace

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, SEPT. 24. Safety issues have been in focus since the Bhopal gas tragedy but there is still a long way to go before total safety can be assured in industries, speakers at a seminar said here on Wednesday.

Several new laws have been enacted after Bhopal, but the need now was to sensitise the industry and the community on the importance of safety norms and adopt a scientific approach to evolve safer practices, the speakers said.

The seminar, organised by the National Safety Council, focussed on organising and motivating people in the industry to ensure safety.

In course of the three days, the participants were given a look at statutory requirements, safety organisation, human aspects, stress and personal protective equipment, besides an overview of the Factories Act 1948 and a glimpse into reporting of accidents, their investigation, analysis, and safety audit.

Sensitivity towards accidents and victims, a scientific approach to prevent accidents and industrial discipline were the keys to total safety, said J. Panneerselvam, Executive Director and Joint President, Futura Polyester. The airline industry in the West, he said, spent billions of dollars on research to evolve the best seating facilities in aircraft after several cases of seizures and heart attacks in aeroplanes were reported.

More people die in the construction industry than in any other, the scaffolding being the culprit most of the time. But there has been no mechanism to put up these structures based on scientific inputs, he added.

Periodic drills

In Manali, an emergency response centre has been set up and periodic drills are conducted to sensitise the people in the industry as well as the community on how to react to different signals, evacuation and other activities, Mr. Panneerselvam added.

The seminar would seek to evolve techniques, methodologies and ways to organise and motivate stakeholders in safety. It would also provide the participants with the knowledge to introduce safety movement at the workplace, said Sunil Gonsalves, Technical Officer, National Safety Council, Mumbai.

Giving statistics, he said at least one fatal accident takes place at the workplace every three minutes, according to a recent report of the International Labour Organisation.

Safety valves, for example, are not given their due importance. Also, manufacturing industries focus only on manufacturing, quality check and other product-related activity while ignoring safety, he said.

R. Thiruvengadam, chairman, National Safety Council-Tamilnadu Chapter, said education, side by side with enforcement, was important to propagate safety.

Awareness of safety and environment has been on the increase over the past few years, but there was still a long way to go.

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