To ensure accident-free fireworks industry, says Minister

Officials of the State and Central Government organisations should help in implementation of safety rules in fireworks units in and around Sivakasi to ensure accident-free fireworks industry, Minister for Information and Special Schemes Implementation, K.T. Rajendra Balaji, said.

He was addressing at the 19 regional conclave on “Enhancing occupational safety and health: Effective implementation of safety, health and environment culture in fireworks industries” organised by the Regional Labour Institute, Chennai, and Madras Management Association here on Saturday.

Sivakasi was the largest producer of fireworks goods, next only to China. Considering that safety of the workers of around 700 fireworks units in the area was of paramount importance, the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa has ordered the officials to train them on safety aspects.

He recalled that the Chief Minister had announced construction of burns ward with advanced medical facilities at a cost of Rs. 4.5 crore at the Government hospital here. The State Government had announced Rs. 2 lakh compensation to the families of the 40 persons killed in the accident at Om Sakthi Fireworks Industries in Muthalipatti, he said.

No amount of money can compensate the loss of life, he said adding that frequent training on fire safety should be imparted to the workers for taking the employment-oriented fireworks industry to the stage of zero accident.

The Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, A.P. Singh said that the fireworks industry should take a re-look at the precautionary measures adopted to ensure safety of the workers. “Mere formulation of rules and regulation was not enough, but a safety culture, which ensures implementation of rules in letter and spirit, is all required,” he said.

One of the leading fireworks industrialists, A.P. Selvarajan, underlined that more than training the workers, it was the self discipline among the individuals could prevent accidents. He blamed that the avarice to make money led to the accidents. Besides, the practice of handling newer chemicals without knowing their chemical properties too led to the accidents.

Avoidance of over stocking of chemicals and finished goods would reduce the impact of the accidents, he added.

Chairman of the PSR College of Engineering, R. Ramadass, said that industry was converting wastes like paper and charcoal into fireworks, giving jobs to thousands and also paying huge tax to the Government. He wanted better safety practice for the industry to thrive.

The Director (Safety) of Regional Labour Institute, Chennai, R.K. Elangovan, said that labour laws of the nation recognised safe and healthy working environment as a fundamental human right. The employers were liable for the safety for all workers employed, directly or indirectly or through contractors. “It is a non-transferable responsibility for the employer to ensure safety of the employees on his factory premises,” he added.

R. Vijayakumar, Executive Director, Madras Management Association and Sundar Ramadass, Director, PSR Group of Institutions, were among those who addressed the meeting.

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