Odisha 5th in fatal factory mishaps in country!

The toll in 2018 stood at 42. First six months (Jan-Jul) in 2019 record a toll of 18 deaths. However, the fatal injuries in State have dropped by half during the last decade (2008-19)

Bhubaneswar: Even as the fatal injuries in factory accidents in the State have almost halved during the last decade (2008-19), Odisha still figures in the top -10 states with high factory fatalities in the country.

As per the latest data available with State Directorate of Factories and Boilers, a total of 18 factory workers died owing to accidents in factories in the State during the period of January to July 2019.  The total human toll in factory accidents in the year 2018 stood at 42 in Odisha. In contrast, the toll in 2008-09 was 81, which rose to 121 in 2009-10.

The big drop in casualties in factory-related accidents in the State has been attributed to pruning of burn injuries and deaths due to crushing, said a senior official in the directorate and he further added that deaths due to electrocution have not shown any consistent fall over the years.

The data shows death owing to fall from height still accounts for the largest share of mortalities in factory mishaps in the State. Deaths post hit by an object and electrocution followed it closely.

As per the data, companies in the realm of electricity generation and metal manufacturing account for the lion’s share in factory-related fatal injuries in the State.

What seems at stake is safety of over 70, 000 workers who are eking out a livelihood in over 380 hazardous units in the State.

The stunning home-truths in the given context is, as per government’s official record, over one-fifth of the factories in the State are yet to declare a safety policy as mandated under the Factories Act 1948.

Though the act mandates appointment of Safety Officers (SOs) in hazardous units, and also units employing 1000 workers, nearly two per cent of factories till date have not appointed a single SO. Moreover, vacancies of SOs in factories stood at around 4 per cent, revealed top sources in State Labour department.

As per ILO norm, a factory employing 50 workers should appoint a part-time SO, for up to 200 workers there should be one full-time SO, and 4 SOs for workers up to 1000.

Since, the State has around 2,600 reporting industries in the manufacturing sector, Odisha needs at least 350-500 SOs. But around 170 safety officers are in-position in over 380 odd hazardous and over 50 large industrial units.

How could factories violate the Factories Act 1948? A high of around 16 per cent shortfall in manpower at the inspection-level is responsible as around one-fifth of the factories remain uninspected every year.  Sources informed that State government is yet to appoint chemical and hygiene inspectors, when basic chemical factories account for around 10 per cent of fatal factory mishap over the years.