Cement industry safety in India

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A stark reminder came this week of the thankfully rare but potential risks of working in the cement industry. Five deaths were reported at Ambuja Cement's Bhatapara cement plant in India on 31 January 2013.

According to a press release Ambuja issued, the steel construction supporting a fly ash hopper located on top of a building, and connected to the cement mill, collapsed at the Bhatapara plant. Further details in local press reports added that about 200t of fly ash fell from a height of 15m. Five labourers and plant employees working at the site were buried under the debris and subsequently died. Four officials from the company have since been arrested and the plant closed while investigations are conducted.

Previously in January 2013 burn injuries were reported as another Ambuja cement plant, this time at Darlaghat. Eight workers received burns after a blast from a boiler unit.

However, despite these incidents the safety figures for Ambuja Cement and the other major Indian producers are high. In Ambuja Cement's 2011 sustainability report it recorded that its lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) was 1.04 for total employees and supervised workers. Its LTIFR has been dropping steadily since 2008, when it was 3.18.

This compares to other major Indian cement producers as follows. UltraTech Cement reported that its LTIFR for permanent employees was 0.82 in 2011-2012, a consistent drop year by year since 2008-2009. ACC reported that its LTIFR for its own and subcontracted employees was 0.31 in 2011. Shree Cement reported a LTIFR of 0.91 in 2010-2011 for employees and contractors. For international comparison the Mineral Products Association set a LTIFR target of 1.79 or lower for 2014 in the UK. Lafarge's global LTIFR in 2011 was 0.63 and Holcim's was 1.6.

An Ambuja's plant in Rajasthan picked up two national awards from the Government of India for Safety Performance in mid 2012. One was for first place for outstanding performance in Industrial Safety based on 'Lowest Average Frequent Rate'. The second was a runners-up prize for the category 'Accident Free Year'. Lafarge India, UltraTech, ACC and the other major producers all hold similar accolades. Sadly, any safety record is only as good as the shift that has just finished.

URL: https://www.globalcement.com/news/item/1427-cement-industry-safety-in-india

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