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2020: Vizag’s Deadly Year of Industrial Accidents

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, accidents have become more frequent in the industrial district Visakhapatnam where 29 people died in four industrial accidents between May and August.
2020: Vizag’s Deadly Year of Industrial Accidents

Image Courtesy: Business Today

Four workers sustained burn injuries in an accident at the Steel Melting Shop 2 (SMS 2) in Vizag Steel Plant on Friday night. This was yet another addition to the list of industrial accidents, which have become more frequent in Andhra Pradesh and particularly, in its industrial city Visakhapatnam.

The accident happened when a hook of a ladle carrying hot metal of about 100 tonnes fell down from a height of about 30 to 40 feet. Reportedly, fire-fighting teams arrived at the spot in minutes and doused the fire, stopping any cascading effects due to the fire.

According to the plant workers, of the four injured (two are permanent employees and two are contract workers), three are out of danger, and one survived severe leg injury.

“Besides minor accidents, major accidents have become frequent mainly because of negligence towards maintenance issues in the large production plant,” said Ayodhya Ram, President of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in the plant. He added that it was fortunate that not many workers were present at the spot during the time of the accident.

Earlier on November 5, a fire accident occurred at Power Plant 2 of the steel plant due to a turbine oil leak in the 1.2 megawatt electric motor.

Between May 7 and August 1, 29 people died in four industrial accidents in Visakhapatnam alone.

The coastal district of Visakhapatnam is the industrial centre of Andhra Pradesh with a large number of public and private entities located there.

“The accidents in the private companies, especially in pharma industries, occur due to negligence and lack of safety precautions taken by the managements,” said Jaggu Naidu, a CITU member in Vizag. “In many cases, they hire unskilled workers where proficiency is required only to cut cost on manpower, while the government’s inspection systems have become corporate friendly,” he added.

“In public entities, lapses in maintenance of equipment is one of the main reasons that causes accidents. Whenever a major accident takes place, the state government constitutes a committee, but it ends up taking no action against the culprits responsible,” added Naidu.

Timeline of Recent Accidents

August 1: 11 workers were killed when a crane crashed in the Visakapatnam’s Hindustan Shipyard Limited.

July 14: A major explosion broke out at Ramky Solvent unit in Vishakapatnam’s Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City (JNPC), killing a senior chemist while injuring several others.

June 29: Hydrogen Sulfide gas leaked from a reactor at a unit of Sainor Life Sciences Pvt Ltd located in the JNPC. It killed two workers and severely injured four others who inhaled the dangerous gas.

June 28: Ammonium Gas leak at SPY Agro Industries in Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district killed one person while three others were injured.

May 7: Styrene gas leaked from LG Polymers factory in Visakhapatnam’s RR Venkatapuram, in which 15 people died and hundreds living in the villages surrounding the factory had to be hospitalised.

According to trade unions, there have been 56 industrial accidents in JNPC in the last 10 years, in which 37 workers were killed. JNPC is a joint venture by Ramky Group and Andhra Pradesh government and has 80 chemical units.

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