Most of the accidents, especially in the pharmaceutical and chemical units, are avoidable, if the industry adopts a humane approach and invests in industrial safety and trains the employees properly, according to Mr G. Balakishore, Director of Factories, Andhra Pradesh.

He was addressing industrialists at the inaugural session of a two-day seminar on safety in chemical labs which began here on Thursday. He said during the past one year or so 140 fatal accidents had occurred in Andhra Pradesh and “most of them are avoidable.” He expressed regret that human life had no value in the country and, with a little expense, so many valuable lives could be saved. Most of the workers who died in the accidents were either contract labour or migrant inter-state labour. “We must really be grateful to these workers from other States who are toiling for the development of our State. We must do everything possible to save their lives. We should not send their bodies to their home States,” he exhorted the industrialists.

Mr Balakishore said that safety should be given importance right from the stage of designing the factory and the industry should adopt a proactive approach. Accidents could happen either due to systems failure or human error and on both counts care should be taken by the industry. He said most of the accidents were occurring in small industries, but the small-scale units should also invest in safety regardless of their size.

Shortage of safety personnel

He said there was also immense shortage of trained safety officers in the State. Of late, rules had been relaxed to recruit more safety officers. He assured the industry that the Factories Department would not act as a policing department, but would use methods of education, motivation and persuasion rather than pressure.

Mr Sanjit Singh Lamba, Managing Director of Eisai Pharma Technology and Manufacturing Private Ltd, which has a unit in the pharma city at Parawada in Visakhapatnam district, said investing in safety measures right from the start would be more economical than dealing with the fallout of accidents. “We may think the cost of safety is high, but the cost of accidents is much higher. Therefore, it is wiser to invest in safety management,” he said.

Dr G.V. Subba Raju, CEO of Natsol Laboratories Private Ltd, said the Indian pharma industry was moving from the stage of imitation to innovation and safety assumed greater importance in this phase. “The technologies were available and they were also cost-effective. They should be used by the industry,” he added.

(This article was published on July 14, 2011)
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