As the restrictions are being gradually eased in some zones to bring the economy back on track, the Centre has issued fresh "guidelines for restarting manufacturing industries after lockdown", advising them not to try to achieve high production targets.
In order to minimize the risk and to encourage a successful restart of industrial units, the guidelines advised the industries to consider the first week as the trial or test run period while starting the units and ensure all safety protocols.
The guidelines were issued on Saturday to all Chief Secretaries and administrators of Union Territories (UTs) as the 14-day lockdown 3.0 is on and will end on 17 May.
To minimize the risk, the Ministry has advised that employees who work on specific equipment are sensitised and made aware of the need to identify abnormalities like strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding, or other potentially hazardous signs which indicate the need for an immediate maintenance or if required shutdown.
"Especially during the COVID-19 times, ensure all lockout and tagout procedures are in place on a daily basis (not applicable for units running 24 hours)," the generic guidelines mentioned.
The guidelines suggest inspection of all equipment as per the safety protocols during the restart phase. In case the industry has any difficulty in managing crucial backward linkages that may be critical for their safe functioning, they should approach the local district administration for specific assistance, the guidelines suggest.
District Magistrate, as per the guideline, may be instructed to ensure that in such instance, the industries unit may be facilitated to run their end to end operations, in the overall interests of all industrial security, it said.
The guidelines were issued considering that some of the operators might not have followed the established Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) due to the closure of industrial units during several weeks of lockdown and it may result in some of the manufacturing units, pipelines, valves may have residual chemicals, which may pose risk.
The same is true for the storage facilities with hazardous chemicals and flammable materials, the guidelines mention. Combustible liquids, containing 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," it said.
While issuing the guidelines, the Ministry said, "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 and after COVID-19 lockdown."
In early response to novel coronavirus pandemic, the Centre imposed nationwide lockdown with effect from March 25. The lockdown is being gradually released in some zones and certain economic activities are being permitted as per National Disaster Management order.