Thursday, December 6, 2012


Safety: Last priority in garment units? By Express News Service - BANGALORE 26th November 2012 10:48 AM Photos Fire safety standards in most garment manufacturing units in the State are far from satisfactory. In fact, most of the workers in more than 800 registered garment manufacturing units in the state are not even kept in the loop about safety measures and emergency situations. The Fire Services Department officials said that these firms do not even obtain no objection certificates (NOC) which is mandatory before starting any industry. A majority of these units do not have signboards and proper exits. Many workers employed in prime industrial areas like Bommanahalli and Mysore Road grapple with just one entry and exit point in the building. Deepa, a member of a Garment Workers Union, said that some of these units have only one door, leave alone emergency exits. “Units which have more than 500 workers need multiple entry and exit points. But many small units located in New Timber Yard Layout, and Nayandahalli on Mysore Road and in Peenya do not follow standards,” Deepa observed. “Even if they do have a door meant for emergencies, they are not marked properly.” She added that managements also do not train workers on how to act when fire breaks out in the building. When contacted, the Fire Department officials said that garment factory owners are rarely approach them for guidance on fire safety measures. Most of them do not obtain NOCs before setting up factories, they claimed. “The buildings which are more than 15 meters tall from the ground are considered high-rise buildings and they have to obtain no-objection certificates from Fire and Emergency Services Department compulsorily. But most garment units are set up in buildings that have ground and first floor and have only fire extinguishers,” B G Chengappa, Director, Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services, said. While these units have mounds of combustible materials like fabrics, cut pieces, cotton, thread and accessories stored on every floor, fire extinguishers are not regularly recharged and maintained. Sajjan Raj Mehta, former President of Karnataka Hosiery and Garment Association, said that smaller, unregistered garment units tend to compromise on the safety guidelines to cut costs. Mehta said, “Many smaller units are not even audited, especially those employing 300-500 workers. They ignore these aspects just to save money and have no regard for the welfare of workers.” However, company managements insist that they do follow the safety norms. Jitendra Dugar, CEO of Go Go International Private Limited, said all the stipulated safety measures have been taken by organised firms which employ thousands of people.

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