In early response to COVID-19, nationwide lockdown was ordered with effect from 25th March. As the lockdown is being gradually released in some zones, certain economic activities are being permitted as per NDMA orders No.1-29/2020-PP dated 1st May 2020 and MHA order No. 40- 3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 1st May 2020.
Due to several weeks of lockdown and the closure of industrial units during the lockdown period, it is possible that some of the operators might not have followed the established SOP. As a result, some of the manufacturing facilities, pipelines, valves, etc. may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk. The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials.
National Disaster Management Authority has issued
- Guidelines on Chemical Disasters, 2007
- Guidelines on Management of Chemical (Terrorism) Disasters, 2009 and
- Strengthening of Safety and Security For Transportation of POL Tankers,2010, which are relevant for chemical industries. The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 under Environment Protection Act, 1086 provide the statutory requirements for these industries.
When Lockout/Tagout procedures are not in place, many energy sources can prove to be hazardous to operators/supervisors who are servicing or maintaining electrical, mechanical or chemical equipment. When heavy machinery and equipment are not maintained periodically, they can become dangerous for the operators/engineers.
Combustible liquids, contained gaseous substances, open wires, conveyor belts and automated vehicles make manufacturing facilities a high-risk environment. Improper enforcement of safety codes and improperly labelled chemicals can further pose serious health hazards.
When an unexpected event occurs, managing rapid response becomes challenging. In order to minimise the risk and to encourage a successful restart of the industrial units, the following guidelines are being issued.
State Governments shall also ensure that the off-site disaster management plan of the respective Major Accidental Hazard (MAH) units are up to date and preparedness to implement them is high. It is also advised that all the responsible officers of the district shall ensure the Industrial On-Site Disaster Management Plans are also in place and cover Standard Operating Procedures for safe re-starting of the industries during & after COVID 19 lock down.