Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Factory accidents, a pointer to rusty inspection reform  


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Government steps taken to deal with fatal industrial accidents

Mains level: Causes of the fatal industrial accidents

Why in the news?

In May 2024, an explosion at a reactor in a chemical factory within the Dombivli Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) area caused fatalities and injuries among workers and local residents.

Present Scenario in India       

  • India continues to witness frequent fatal industrial accidents, often due to non-compliance with safety regulations, inadequate inspections, and compromised safety practices.
  • Recent incidents, such as the Dombivli MIDC chemical factory explosion, highlight the recurring nature of these accidents and their devastating impact on lives and infrastructure.
  • There is a significant disparity between the number of registered factories and the inspection rates across states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.

Causes of fatal industrial accidents   

  • Non-compliance with Safety Regulations: Many industrial accidents occur due to the failure of companies to adhere to mandated safety regulations and standards. Examples include improper maintenance of machinery, lack of safety equipment, and inadequate training of personnel in handling hazardous materials.
  • Inadequate Maintenance and Inspection Practices: Poor maintenance of industrial equipment and facilities can lead to malfunctions and accidents. Insufficient or irregular inspection practices contribute to undetected hazards and safety violations that increase the risk of accidents.
  • Human Error and Unsafe Practices: Accidents often result from human errors such as negligence, fatigue, or lack of training. Unsafe work practices, including shortcuts taken to save time or reduce costs, can compromise safety standards and escalate the likelihood of accidents.

Need for the right reforms 

  • Strengthening Regulatory Framework: Reforms should focus on updating and strengthening safety regulations to align with international standards and best practices. There is a need to close loopholes and ambiguities in existing laws to enhance clarity and enforceability.
  • Improving Inspection and Enforcement: Enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of regulatory bodies responsible for inspecting industrial facilities. Increasing the number of qualified inspectors, improving their training, and implementing advanced inspection techniques like digital monitoring and real-time compliance checks.
  • Promoting Transparency and Accountability: Establishing transparent mechanisms for reporting and investigating industrial accidents to identify root causes and prevent recurrence.

What can be the solution? (Way forward)

  • Enhanced Regulatory Oversight: Strengthening and strictly enforcing safety regulations and standards across all industries. Regular updates to ensure regulations are comprehensive, up-to-date with technological advancements, and aligned with international best practices.
  • Improving Inspection and Compliance: Increasing the number of qualified inspectors and improving their training and capabilities.Implementing regular and surprise inspections using modern technologies such as digital monitoring and remote sensing to ensure compliance with safety standards.
  • Promoting Safety Culture: Encouraging a proactive safety culture within industries through training, awareness programs, and incentives for compliance.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What is the significance of Industrial Corridors in India? Identifying industrial corridors, explain their main characteristics. (UPSC IAS/2018)

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