Ahmedabad fire tragedy that claimed 12 lives calls for focus on Warehouse Safety

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The growing number of unfortunate accidents at warehouses has time and again testified to the growing and crucial need of practising warehouse safety and security. With warehouses harbouring hazardous chemicals and usually dangerous machines, it is high time that safety and security feature as the top priority for organisations and governments across the globe.

Warehouses are the lifelines of any business. They require utmost care and caution in the operations since a lot of hazardous chemicals and intense activities are regulated within warehouses.

The mishaps due to negligence in warehouses have been a stark reminder of how the issue of warehouse safety and security needs to be addressed now more than ever before, instead of brushing it under the rug.

On Thursday, at least 12 workers lost their lives when part of a chemical warehouse collapsed following a powerful blast in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, according to officials.

Twelve bodies have been recovered from the warehouse of a cotton factory on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, as shared by the National Disaster Response Force spokesman Krishan Kumar.

The explosion ripped apart the walls of the building, including a textile facility that operated from the complex, as per eyewitness reports.

The mishap led to a lot of chaos, with television images showing several workers fleeing the premises. Some nearby buildings also were damaged by the blast. A preliminary investigation suggested the explosion was triggered by a fire in a chemical store, and the blast left the building in a pile of rubble.

India is frequently rocked by industrial disasters that experts attribute to poor planning and lax enforcement of safety rules.

This unfortunate tragedy at Gujarat comes months after the disastrous blasts that rocked the port of Beirut after a fire ignited 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

The ammonium nitrate, stored unsafely in a warehouse, had sent shock waves across the world but to the people of Beirut, it added to their already existent woes as Lebanon has been struggling through harsh economic crisis.

The Beirut Port explosion, which took the lives of at least 135 persons and left thousands injured, also provided a major blow to the food supply chain of a country that was already reeling under the COVID pressure.

The Lebanese authorities have said that the cause of the blast was Ammonium Nitrate, an odourless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertiliser.

In light of the explosion at Beirut, India’s Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) had ordered the Customs to immediately verify and confirm within 48 hours that any hazardous and explosive materials lying in warehouses and ports across the country meets all safety and fire standards and presents no danger to life and property.

Top concerns in warehouse safety

Indian warehouses have come a long way in keeping up with the evolution of the industry, through its transition from traditional brick and mortar storage spaces to highly advanced technology-driven state-of-the-art infrastructure. However, safety and security compliance today holds more importance and concern, with employee safety, proper equipment handling and heightened security measures topping the list of primary concerns that throngs warehouses today.

The topic of employee safety has witnessed an upsurge in recent times. The importance of employee safety and security cannot be felt more, especially in the present times. The incident at Gujarat has once again highlighted the necessity of a well drawn-out and implemented employee safety plan.

Warehouses are a buzzing scene replete with use of heavy machinery for its day-to-day activities. For ensuring a perfect man and machine collaboration, ensuring perfect working condition of the equipment is of utmost necessity.

Emergency Provisions at Warehouses

With the year providing substantial reminders for the need of Emergency provisions at warehouses, it is time that it is implemented in reality, be it in the form of in-house ground rules that can be implemented at any warehouse to ward off serious hazards or untoward incidents, or in having a risk mitigation plan in place.

Running a safe and secure warehouse cuts down the risk for occupational, on the job injuries —and of course, its never-ending list of dangers and costs involved.

Although warehouses are indispensable to any business or industry, in performing for the needs of every department within the business, its own needs to operate properly are seldom considered as important and are often overlooked. We hope that in the days to come, the topic of warehouse safety is seen as a compulsive need instead of an option.

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