15 February, 2023On 11 February, at least nine workers, including five contract workers, sustained injuries when molten steel fell on them in one of the steel melting shops at the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant in India.
Workers were clearing a track to move the slag pot when the accident occurred. Three workers suffered serious burn injuries, one of who is in critical condition. This incident happened at the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), an entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.
According to Indian National Steel, Metal, Metalmines and Engineering Employees’ Federation (INMMS&EEF) and Steel, Metal & Engineering Workers' Federation of India (SMEFI), IndustriALL affiliates, the accident was caused due to management’s negligence in ensuring adequate safety mechanisms at the plant. They have also submitted a letter to the management demanding that they invest in the proper training for workers, including contract workers. They must also appoint members from every department to the safety committee.
Additionally, the steel plant's general hospital lacks the resources necessary to handle such severe injuries.
Rajshekar Mantri, working president of INMMS&EEF, says:
“Visakha Steel General Hospital must be upgraded with necessary resources to prevent the severity of accident-related injuries. Instead of referring workers to super-speciality hospitals, the burn ward should have had adequate facilities to provide treatment beyond first-aid in such an emergency.”
The Indian government is set to privatise the steel plant in the near future. IndustriALL affiliates have voiced concerns regarding this and even staged protest action last year, where they handed management a memorandum opposing the privatisation of this profitable state-owned plant.
Apoorva Kaiwar, South Asia regional secretary of IndustriALL, says:
“Occupational health and safety is the fundament right of workers but in India, workplace safety continues to be undermined. RINL management must ensure that proper safety mechanisms are put in place so that workers’ lives are not lost.”