Enforcing safety rules in factories
THE absence of crucial and fundamental precautionary safety rules and regulations that are a vital element of vulnerable sites is a criminal neglect by the managements concerned and calls for severe legal punishments.
Although the nation has completed 65 years of its independence, it is still worried about the safety of the people, their assets, homes and businesses.
It is very important to implement safety rules and regulations in the country in letter and in spirit.
Despite claims by authorities that strict measures are under way to control such incidents, very little practical steps or rules are enforced to control or minimise industrial and commercial accidents.
The international law of QHSE requires all organisations employing workers exposed to hazards to ensure the inclusion of Occupational Health Safety Environment and Quality units as essential parts of the management system.
We also require professional dedicated personnel to take up this task and get people familiarised with safety regulations.
Being a developing country much input is required to ensure safety of every citizen. This can only be done if we have non – political personnel holding such offices as protect and safeguard the interest and safety of workers.
Most buildings in the country are without emergency exits and fire – fighting equipment. No basic training for employees or institutional inspections takes place.
The responsibility should not only be shared by the government alone. Civil society and educational institutions should provide training skills and awareness to children at school level so that basic safety culture is introduced from the start.
Another important aspect of the incident is that workers were living in the factory and were performing their duties as well.
This is totally against the safety standards of any industry. Accommodation should always be away from the workplace. Did any of the authorities who issue licences check why workers were living in the same building which had no proper escape route or secondary emergency exit?
M. MISHAL A. KHAN
IT is being said that the garment factory lacked appropriate fire-fighting equipment, as well as other necessary safety precautionary measures had not been adopted.
Had the officials concerned ensured observance of rules and regulations that exist to minimise the occurrence of such accidents, then the loss could have been considerably minimised.
Politicians have been showing sympathy with the victims of the tragedy but, in reality, they are making political mileage.
The amount of compensation to the victims’ families should not remain limited to what the Sindh chieh minister has announced.
The families of the victims should be given additional compensation. This amount should be paid by the owners of the factory.
Those conducting the inquiry into the tragedy should not lose sight of this aspect while finalising their report.
The situation demands that a thorough inquiry into the incident is completed in the shortest possible time. But the possibility that this would happen is remote because several inquiries into the incident have been ordered.
There would be issues of jurisdiction and terms of reference given to the various inquiry committees etc. Such difficulties can be avoided if all concerned authorities sit together and constitute one inquiry committee which should be given comprehensive terms of reference and a timeframe to finalise the inquiry.
The most important thing the authorities should focus on is to compel the owners to reopen the factory at the earliest after putting in place the necessary safeguards and precautionary measures required under the laws for safe operations so that the surviving workers can start earning their livelihood and the factory’s production could again start contributing to the national economy. Reopening of the factory must not wait conclusion of the inquiry.
The occurrence of such incidents in Pakistan from time to time is indicative of the fact that neither factory owners have mended their ways, nor the performance of the government authorities concerned have improved over time. The media should responsibly keep the public regularly informed about the progress on the incident.
IT is incumbent on the media, labour unions, civil society and, of course, the families of victims to keep pushing for attention to this problem to avoid more loss of lives. Besides, factory owners should voluntarily come forward to comply with safety regulations because failure to do so can save them money in the short run but in the long run their businesses may face penal and criminal litigations in case of a tragedy.
It is time policymakers, in conjunction with factory owners and other actors, took on the job of evaluation of workplace safety policy seriously with a view to identifying and plugging gaps to make factories safer.
M. S. DAYO
THE fire in a Karachi garment factory has been described as the biggest witnessed in decades as all fire tenders in the city were sent to the factory.
Eyewitnesses told a cruel tale of what transpired in the factory after the fire broke out. Several persons jumped out from the four – storeyed building in a bid to save their lives.
The incident has raised concerns about Pakistan’s industrial safety. The cause of this fire is unknown yet but the reason should be to avoid and control such incidents in future.
THE media exposure for the recent Karachi factory fire was quite disappointing on some TV channels.
The role of the media is to report the story as it is, and not sensationalise it. An anchor at a channel moved with a mike and the cameraman interviewing rescurers and the public present at the venue without realising that it may delay the rescue work.
Also showing the inside of the garment factory on – screen where the fire was still burning, there were chances that workers could still be there, still without realising that how bad would the families of the workers feel who had lost their lives or might be fighting for it.
A number of TV channels lack true professionalism and training, and hence weak governance, implementation and weak monitoring of rules.
Unhealthy competition among private TV channels to get target rating points is another major reason which has led TV owners and controllers to sensationalise events to get viewer attention.
We urge the electronic media to avoid sensationalism. It must not play with the emotions of the public.