Only 3,000 of 20,000 buildings under construction have disclosed measures for workers
Monday’s accident at a school building under construction in Royapuram has brought to the fore an oft-neglected issue: disclosure of safety, welfare and health measures taken for construction workers.
On the basis of this declaration, a construction project will receive a registration certificate from the directorate of industrial safety and health.
According to a senior official at the Directorate, of the 20,000 buildings that are being constructed in the city, only 3,000 have received this certificate.
The Directorate is said to be short on manpower to enforce this statutory provision.
After 13 construction workers were injured in Monday’s building collapse, the Directorate woke up from its slumber and began clearing the ground for the formation of a separate enforcement wing to look into safety issues on construction sites in the city.
The workers allegedly fell from a height of around 12 feet after the scaffolding of a building of K.C. Sankaralinga Nadar Higher Secondary School collapsed on Gollavar Agraharam Road in Royapuram.
Directorate officials carried out an inspection of the school building on Tuesday.
“The building did not have the registration certificate. The accident was caused by scaffolding failure. We will issue a notice shortly. Had they registered the site, we would have visited it periodically to inspect aspects pertaining to safety, welfare and health of the workers,” said an official.
The registration is done as per provisions of the Building and Other Construction Workers Act. The details on value of the work, gender of workers and duration of the work will have to be furnished by the builders.
Apart from safety measures, the builder has to create adequate toilets for workers at the site and crèche for women employees, as per the statutory provisions. Most of the builders do not provide such facilities.
“A lot of accidents go unnoticed. This accident should be an eye-opener. Many large construction sites have specialised safety engineers and insurance cover to compensate for losses. They conduct training sessions on safety for construction workers. But 95 per cent of the construction workers are illiterate. So it is a challenge,” said M.K. Sundaram, former chairman of Builders Association of India (south centre).
Many of the builders in the city, however, said they do not register their construction sites with the Directorate because they have their own safety measures in place and also, insurance cover for their workers.