Officials to take extra precautions during the exercise

The death of 38 persons in Wednesday’s accident at Om Sakthi Fireworks Industries near here has prompted officials to take extra precautions for their safety while inspecting firecracker units.

Virudhunagar Collector T.N. Hariharan has ensured that no team inspected any cracker unit without the presence of an official from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).

“Only PESO officials have complete technical knowledge of the properties of every chemical used in the cracker units. Other officers can only take care of non-technical aspects,” said an official.

Seven officers of the Revenue and Police Department died during a routine raid against illegal manufacturing of fire crackers near Sattur in August 2010 and the tragedy is still fresh in the minds of officials. Mishandling of fuses while seizing them led to a sudden fire in which all seven persons were charred to death.

As the office of Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives in Sivakasi can spare only four officers for the inspection, PESO officials have promised to depute two more officers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Hence, the number of squads formed by the district administration has been restricted to six to inspect around 700 firecracker units in the district.

The inspections, to be led by the Revenue Divisional Officers of Aruppukottai and Sivakasi, will begin on Monday. The squad comprises representatives from PESO and officials from the departments of Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Industries and Health.

Chairing a meeting to discuss the modalities to inspect the cracker units here on Friday, the Collector laid down a list of don’ts to the squad members. They have been asked to avoid smoking and not to carry match boxes. Similarly, to avoid radiation, the squad members have been asked not to use their mobile phones on entering the cracker units.

They have also been asked to avoid types of footwear that could cause friction while walking in and around working sheds.

The officials have been strictly warned against touching any chemicals without adhering to proper safety precautions.

Superintendent of Police, Najmul Hoda and District Revenue Officer R. Raju were present at the meeting.

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