September 8, 2021 4:12:29 am
In a study on fire hazards in Gujarat’s textile hub of Narol, Ahmedabad, conducted by NGO Aajeevika Bureau, 26 per cent of the interviewed workers reported absence of fire extinguishers in their industrial units.
The study based on interviews and focused group discussions of 95 workers employed in large processing factories in Narol also reported workers pointing out that fire extinguishers were not routinely serviced and tested. “Around 94 per cent of the interviewed workers told us that they did not have any training in operating the fire extinguishers or other fire equipment,” said Shubham Kaushal, an advocate and researcher at the NGO.
In case of fire exits, 44 per cent of the workers reported lack of unimpeded and continuous means of escape, with exits routinely blocked by trucks, cloth rolls, chemical containers, etc. About 88 per cent of workers also noticed chemical container drums to be lying around machines, corridors and doors.
Most of the workers estimated that due to these hindrances, they would take 30-60 minutes in escaping their workplace, in case of fire. “The findings indicate grave violations of provisions of the Factories Act 1948 and the Gujarat Factories Rule, 1963,” Kaushal added.
Only two per cent of workers reported presence of a fire alarm or being part of a mock drill. When asked why the sample size was so small, Kaushal said, “About 96 per cent of the workers are contractually or casually engaged and many of them were wary of talking against their factory owners.”
He also said that the researches could not visit any of the textile units to double check the versions of the workers as they were not allowed inside the factory premises.
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