Industrial Safety and Hazard Management in Salt Industry

Code No: TMS143 Price: Rs1900/- Category: Industrial Safety

India is one of the major producer of salt accounting for 7.8% of world’s salt production. Salt is produced in India by solar evaporation of sea/ sub-soil/ inland brines. The salt industry provides employment to more than 1.5 lacs of workers. The Indian salt industry uses labour intensive technology in contrast high level of mechanization in salt industry of nations like Australia, Canada, France, USA etc.

Majority of workers employed in the salt industry are unskilled and poorly educated and employed through contractor on temporary basis. A major share of accidents are due to bad work practice and human error and hence can be avoided. Apart from accidents, workers in the salt industry suffer from health problems arising out of work environment/ work conditions.

Studies in other countries have established that workers of last industry suffer from eye and skin problems. This study has been commissioned by Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council (TIFAC) to focus on the industrial safety and occupational hazard management in the salt industry covering the following aspects.

1. Scope & Coverage:

The focus of studies should be on the following aspects, illustrating the status and current practices in the industry and the practices being followed abroad. The recommendations for promoting safety practices be drawn up along with suggested implementation mechanism.

1. Delineate potential causes of :-

i. Safety hazards (injury, fatal accidents)
ii. Health hazards (illness, chronic diseases)
iii. Industry wise data with break up under various categories based upon (a) location of accident, (b) Nature of accident, (c ) nature of injury, (d) time of accident, (e) Health/mental condition of the workman, (f) type of industry, (g) level of existing safety measures etc.
iv. The direct as well as indirect costs being incurred annually due to the industrial accidents.
v. The causes of these accidents/costs. The share of negligence, poor design/lack of safety aspects in the plant and equipment, work practices etc.

2. Containment of safety/health hazards (source/cause). Safe fail designs (not fail-safe) for plant and equipment and work practices.

The cost of “Prevention of Industrial Occupational Health and Safety Hazards at Source” Vs. costs of accidents.

3. Personal protective aids, equipment an accessories: Status, technology, availability, reliability, relevant quality standards, affordability etc. may be covered.

4. Work environment

(i) Work area.
(ii) Infrastructure for exigencies.

5. Work practices (Human factors)

6. The socio-techno-economic aspects

7. Compensation for loss of life and injury as practiced in the country and abroad.

8. The issues related to organized and unorganized sectors are to be addresses separately. The sectors where the Industrial occupational Health and Safety acts do not apply.

9. The workman compensation acts

10. Implementation

(i) Role and responsibilities of management
(ii) Role and responsibilities of workmen
(iii) Awareness programmes and human resources development
(iv) Factors to promote safety practices
(v) List of technical/training institutes and the nature of courses/training being offered by them
(vi) List of published literature, books, periodicals, teaching materials, films and vides indicating the source
(vii) Earlier work done by various agencies

11. Example of good practice(s) in industry.

12. Preferred options of “safety practices”

This should also take in account the losses, direct as well as indirect, due to accidents.

13. Recommendations for promoting safety practices along with identification of the agenesis and the implementation mechanism.
14. Trade unions’ point of view should also be considered (may be through interviews/survey).
15. List of approved surveyors/monitors for industrial accidents may be included.

2. Methodology:

First of all a detailed survey of published information and data on the subject was undertaken and different sources of information were tapped as indicated below:-

Published information and data: various books, journals, magazines and other published papers were studied. A list of books, journals, articles etc. referred or this survey is enclosed with the summary of primary survey.
Electronic Data Search was conducted to collect latest relevant information, bibliography and research extracts on the subject.

This was followed by primary survey in which structured questionnaires were administered to various salt manufactures, safety organist ions, protective equipment manufactures, government bodies, research institute, academic institutes, associations and foreign manufactures.

Information from organization s/institutions working in the related failed: A separate questionnaire was designed for different categories of respondents as indicated above. A set of questions Iist enclosed with the summary of primary survey at the end of this report. A list of the organizations and institutions that were contacted for the primary survey is also appended. Apart from this personal interviews, discussions were held with experts in the field, medical & legal experts, R&D personnel to get in-depth details on the subject. Questionnaires were also mailed to foreign manufacturers and research organizations. After collection of information and data from various sources as explained above, it was analysed, collated and the draft report submitted to TIFAC. The report has been finalized taking into account remarks received from TIFAC. contracted for the primary

3. Limitations:

The report may be read in conjunction with the following limitations:

a) During the survey, responses on accident data, safety infrastructure form some manufacturers were brief & sketchy; at times incomplete and repeated follow up also were not very effective in getting accurate details as information was closely guarded being a sensitive matter.

Further, it was seen that there is a tendency to under report the statistics of accident by the management, a fact confirmed by experts and labour leaders of the industry. The scenario therefore is more serious than depicted by statistics.

b) In view of poor documentation of Industrial Safety data in small scale sector units, the information has been based on estimates of workers of such units and approximated to the best extent possible, based on interviews with experts in the field and corroborating the information from independent sources.

c) Results of the primary sample survey have been extrapolated wherever published data for the industry is not available.

4. Summary:

Given below is the summary of findings of the survey carried out by us in the salt industry:

1. Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh are the leading salt producing states of the country. Almost 65% of the worker population employed in salt industry is working in salt producing units of Gujarat.
2. The salt is produced in about 10,000 salt works, out of which 481 are cat. I manufacturers having land area of more than 100 acres. Thus there is high percentage of small scale units operating in this industry having small land area for production of salt.
3. Based on the sample survey it is found that more than 90% of the workers is not educated above class vth, 96% of the workers are unskilled and almost 93% of the workers are not on the rolls of the company but are employed through contractor.
4. Electric shock, contract with moving machine parts, falls and injury due to collapsing of heap of salt are major type of accidents, occurring in the salt industry, hands and feet are the most commonly injured parts of a worker’s body due to accidents in the salt industry.
5. Data from health camp organized by office of Asstt. Salt commissioner indicate that the commonly occurring ailments in the salt industry relate4 to eye, stomach, heat, skin, leg, kidney etc. however, there has been no scientific study to establish or deny a correlation of these ailments to work conditions, studies abroad have established incidence of occupational health problems related to eye and skin in the salt units producing salt by solar evaporation technique.
6. Accident in the salt industry is a result of one or more of the following factors:
a) Human error or personal factors:
- poor knowledge/ skill
- not using personal protection equipment
- communication gap
- mistaken action
- mental and emotional condition of the worker

b) Unsafe works practice:
- Collapse of heap of salt
- Poor maintenance
- Wrong posture for load and back injury
- Usage abuse

C) Plant and Equipment Factors:
- Contact with exposed moving parts
- Material failure
- Leakages of toxic liquids/ gas

d) Environmental Factors:
- Poor light
- Poor House keeping

e) Other Socio-economic Factors:
- Poor safety awareness
- Worker’s children exposed to hazards
- Alcoholism
- Migration of workers
- Poor living & harsh work conditions

Human error and unsafe work practice are the two most significant factors in the salt industry.

7. The eye problems in the salt industry are caused by intense reflectance of the sun light from water surface and salt. Contact with salt laden water causes different type of skin lesions amongst the workers. According to medical practitioners and skin specialists, the skin ailments commonly occurring amongst the workers of the Indian salt industry are:

a) Fungal infection in the feet
b) Allergic contact dermatitis
c) Photo-dermatitis
d) Toxin metanosis
e) Fungal infection in different parts of the body due to moist air.

It is estimated that more than 50% of the workers have suffered from these problems at one point or another. The diseases are reversible with prolonged treatment if the subject is isolated from the environment causing such ailments.

8. Various hazards that endanger worker’s health and well-being in the salt industry are:
- Sharp edged crystals in the salt farm
- Electricity
- Contact with machine parts
- Air pollution
- Leakage of acids and aggressive chemicals
- Light (both excessive light as well as poor light)
- Heat
- Manual carrying of load
- Poor house keeping
- Fire
- Poor living conditions
- Shift work

9. The salt units have to comply with a number of statutes. Factories Act as amended by Factories (Amendment) Act 1987 lays down aspects relating to licensing and registration of factories, inspecting authorities under the Act, health, safety, welfare, working hours of the workers, employment of adults and young children, annual leave and penalties. Workmen compensation Act, 1923 provides for payment of compensation to the worker or his dependents in the event of an accident taking place. Other laws covering the welfare of the workers include ESIC Act, Employees Provident Fund and miscellaneous provisions Act, Maternity Benefit Act, Payment of Gratuity Act, Contract labour (Regulation and abolition) Act, Industrial Dispute Act, Payment of Bonus Act.

10. The purpose of all such acts is to ensure safe work place for the workmen, social justice and social security to the worker and his family.

11. Organizations underestimate/ overlook hidden cost of a accident. None of the surveyed salt units and accurate estimate of the cost incurred by them, although details of expenses incurred by them for safety management were available.

12. Accident cost includes cost of compensation or cost of insurance premium paid by the organization, cost of repairs of the damaged equipment, cost of wages paid to the workers both injured and those involved in the accidents as observer, escort to injured worker, cost pf overtime to make up lost production, cost of customer dissatisfaction in case of delay in delivery, cost of litigation, cost of transportation to the hospital etc. In addition intangible cost of a tarnished public image, deteriorated labour relation and diminished workers morale is also borne by the organsiation.

13. Prevention cost include cost of human resources allocated for accident prevention, cost of training, cost of protection equipment to be provided to the workers, cost of implementation of safety management system which include analysis of accidents and follow up corrective action for accident prevention.

14. Prevention cost can be planned and controlled unlike accident cost which have to be incurred and absorbed as and when they occur. Proper information on cost of accident induces investments for accident prevention.

For an employer, it makes economical sense to prevent accident rather than incur the cost of accidents. Annexure V presents cost comparison for three typical occupational health problems of Indian Salt Industry.

15. The present safety management practice in the Indian Salt Industry are not to the desired level as indicated by the survey. Clearly defined policy, safety systems and supporting infrastructure is lacking in many of the surveyed salt units. Scanty expenditure for the safety of workers indicate substantial variance between words and deeds.

16. Different safety options available in the salt industry include provision of guards and trip devices in the machine, introduction of management systems like permit system, tagout/lockout system, plant maintenance, control of hazard exposure through job rotation, fitness and health surveillance and above all intensive training of the workers. Amongst other areas, ergonomic design of work place, proper ventilation, use of flameproof equipment and fire retarding material also need to be adopted.

17. In work situation where exposure to hazard cannot be avoid the worker needs to use personal protection equipment for his safety. Equipment required to be used in the salt industry include safety helmets, eye goggles, hand gloves, safety shoes disposal filter mask, breathing equipment, body clothing and waist support belts.

18. Inspite of he fact that safety equipment is for the benefit of the worker, it is not used by all the workers and the most common reason for non usage is that the equipment is uncomfortable. It is also seen that the users do not perceive quality difference between manufacturers and are not keen to use equipment having IS approval.

19. Taking it in account the present work practice of the salt industry, the prevalent hazards for industrial safety and occupatiobnal health, evolution of techniques for safety management in the industry, the following recommendations, action plan and implementation strategy are suggested:

5. Recommendations, Action Plan & Implementation:

5.01 The management should formulate safety policy and ensure compliance by suitable management control systems that induce managers and supervisors to achieve measurable goals of worker safety. This would pave the way for a self sustaining safety culture in the organization.

Entrepreneurs / partners/ directors/ managers of the salt units.

5.02 There is urgent need for increasing awareness amongst the workers of the salt industry regarding different hazards of the work place and action required to be taken for safe working. Hazard awareness education has to be given at the time of inducting the worker for job. Workers should also be educated regarding the necessity of using personal protection equipment, it’s proper usage, upkeep and maintenance.

Management of the salt units should organize awareness and orientation programmes for all new workers.

5.03 The training needs of the workers with respect to safety management should be reviewed at regular intervals and accordingly the training inputs must be given in a planned and phased manner. As far as possible this inputs should be given in local language.

Safety Management Departments of salt unit should organize in co-ordination with worker union and safety experts.

5.04 The representatives of the management of the salt units should be trained so that they realize the importance of accident prevention, can assess the hazards of the work place and draw up action plan for safety management.

Association of the Industry to organize such programme with the help of Central Labour Institute/ National Safety Council/ Productivity Councils.\

5.05 The availability of data relating to industrial safety and occupational diseases in the salt industry is not to the desired extent nor in sufficient details as required. Data relating to no. of industrial accidents, causes for accidents, type of injury, place of accident, reasons for accidents etc. Should be collected on regular basis from all salt manufacturing units. The information should be assimilated, analysed and disseminated using modern information management techniques.

Management of all the salt units should submit this data to the Office of Salt Commissioner with copies to Labour Bureau, where the data management and analysis should be carried out. Format for reporting, type of details required, frequency of reporting etc. can be finalized in consultation with organization like National Safety Council or Central Labour Institute.

5.06 There has been no scientific study on incidence of occupational diseases in the Indian Salt Industry. In this respect a scientific study should be commissioned to undertake survey work for occupational diseases. This data should be updated on a regular basis.

Study may be undertaken by National Institute of Occupational Health in coordination with the industry association or Department of Salt, Ministry of Industry.

Regular data compilation may be undertaken with the help of local hospitals/dispensaries under Central Government/ State Government with active support of Management of the Units and Worker Union.

5.07 It has been reported by the representatives of the workers that preset status of monitoring the implementation of Factory Act needs improvement. The necessary steps for improving the monitoring of salt manufacturing units should be implemented.

The State Governments to take necessary action with the help of Factory Inspectorate. Incase of limitation of manpower, the idea of appointing representatives of workers and other safety experts to undertake the periodic checking of safety management in the salt units, may be examined.

5.08 Safety audit after regular intervals should be made compulsory for all category 1 salt manufacturing units. Based on this experience, it may later be extended to other units.

Ministry of Industry can formulate suitable regulation and ensure compliance. Audit work can be carried out by organizations like National Safety Council or Regional Labour Institute or other safety experts. The frequency at which this exercise should be carried out may be finalized in consultation with representatives of the salt industry and safety experts.

5.09 Personal Protection Equipment presently being provided in salt units differs form one unit to another. Some units provide only safety shoes, others also provide helmets and eye goggles etc. Based on the assessment of hazards, standardization should be done.

Association of Industry to draw up the norms in consultation with Protective Equipment Manufacturers and Safety Experts.
5.10 The incidence of injury to the feet is very high due to sharp edged crystals in the salt field. Gum boots being used in the industry get damaged very fast. In this respect modifications may be undertaken in the design and material of shoes to make them suitable for the working conditions in the salt industry. Use of old tyres for the sole material or wood may be examined.

Management of the salt units or association of salt industry to take up the exercise in coordination with protective equipment manufacturers.

5.11 Escape Breathing Apparatus [provide in Bromine plants must be retested periodically and serviced to ensure that it is functioning properly.

The Management of the salt units must ensure periodic testing of existing protective equipment and get the same serviced for smooth functioning with the help of protective equipment manufacturers.

5.12 To avoid the problem of manual lifting of heavy loads, mechanical means of material movement must be introduced wherever possible. In situation where it is not feasible to have mechanization, action must be taken to explore the possibility of redesigning the workplace so as to minimize worker fatigue and posture problem. For workers who are required to undertake manual lifting work, waist support belt must be provided.

Management of the salt units.

5.13 The present living conditions of the workers in the salt industry requires drastic improvement. Availability of basic amenities like sanitation, drinking water, proper housing etc. should be ensured.

The management of the sat manufacturing units with part financing if feasible from the funds collected as cess on salt. Possibility of extending finance at concessional rate may be examined.

5.14 Accident costing system must be introduced as a part of accident investigation n exercise. The realisation of cost incurred by the organization due to accident would induce the management to invest in accident prevention measures.

Management of the salt manufacturing units under supervision of Office of Salt Commissioner.

5.15 Management options like permit system tagout/ lockout system, planned maintenance should be adopted by the salt manufacturing units to minimize human errors and unsafe work practices.

Safety departments/ safety incharge of the unit.

5.16 Fixed guard or interlocking guards or Trip Devices must be installed with various machines that are used in the salt units to minimse incidents of accidents due to contact with moving machine parts.

Management of the salt units in consultation with machine manufacturers.

5.17 Medical health surveillance must be adopted by the salt manufacturing units. The medical check must be carried out at the time of induction of worker and at regular intervals. The records of such medical checks should be properly kept and should form the basis of submitting the occupational health related data to the Department of Salt.

The management of the salt units with the help of local doctors/ Government hospitals.

5.18 It is learnt that labour unions do not play a very active role in safety management. Their focus is more on getting higher allowances for hazardous workplace. Instead the unions representatives should play an active role in ensuring that the hazards of the workplace are minimized/ eliminated.

The union representatives to take up in their discussions with management of the industry.

5.19 Machine Layout should be planned considering Safety aspects, providing access for maintenance, waste removal etc. Further, housekeeping should be good- allowing sufficient space for material & worker movement without any obstruction.

Management of the unit to take action.

The implementation of the recommendations is expected to improve Industrial Safety & Occupational Health Management in the Salt Industry and benefit the workers as well as the entrepreneurs.