District Medical Officer Junaid Rahman has ordered an inspection of the plywood industries in Perumbavur to check whether the units have a certification issued by health authorities. Dr. Rahman said field officers would complete the inspection within two weeks.
The inspection was ordered following allegations by environmental activists that the units were functioning without the DMO’s certification. The certification will be issued after checking parameters such as proper waste treatment and water treatment facilities, adequate first aid facilities, protection belt around the machinery to prevent accidents, and facilities for treating workers who have contracted communicable diseases such as malaria.
A senior health official in the district told The Hindu that for new licences, the certification had a clause for hygienic accommodation facilities for workers.
Accommodation facilities were not considered as a parameter earlier because the influx of migrant workers into the district happened only three or four years ago. In the last six months no new licences were granted for wood-based industries in the district.
“However, there has been a spurt of activity in making hollow bricks instead,” said the official.
The health department had conducted raids in a few factories last year which resulted in the closure of a couple of factories. In the raid, many workers were found to be staying in pathetic living conditions. Lack of hygiene and sanitation facilities had posed a huge threat.
Health authorities had braced themselves to tackle epidemic-like situation during the rains last year. But the rains failed and there was no major threat, he said.
The problems cropped up because licenses were granted by local self government institutions without conducting inspections.