Indian Express – New ship-breaking code firms up safety at Alang shipyard

(Written by Adam Halliday)

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3 May 2013 - The Steel Ministry’s new code for ship-breaking has firmed up safety provisions for workers and delegated more powers to industrial safety personnel. The port authority at Alang, considered to be the world’s largest ship-breaking yard, recently scheduled more training sessions for the tens of thousands of unorganised workers there. It stationed a third ambulance, expanded one hospital at the yard to 24 beds and launched a monthly in-house safety newsletter.

The new code, which dedicates three out of eight chapters to safety aspects and occupational health issues, has made it mandatory for each ship recycler to implement Occupational Safety and Health management systems under which all work-related injuries, accidents and diseases are to be reported and health screening organised for workers.

The code has made it mandatory to register workers for insurance. It also limits work-timings to daylight hours while authorising the temporary shut-down of a recycling plot for up to 30 days in case of an accident causing death or serious bodily injury. Workers disabled by mishaps are also to be given alternative employment with plot-owners prohibited from firing them.

The port authority has also been directed to “provide adequate housing/dormitory facilities for workmen at suitable locations on cost recovery basis by way of rent from occupants with facilities for supply of drinking water, sanitation, electricity and shopping centre etc.”

The spate of moves by authorities comes even as the persistent number of accidents at Alang has the potential to make it a questionable destination for end-of-life ships ahead of an expected surge in ship-breaking at South Asian yards due to a current over-capacity in the world’s fleet and a 2015 deadline for phasing out single hull tankers worldwide.

The European Union is currently finalising a law to make sure the confederate’s ships are sent only to those it certifies safe, with Alang figuring prominently in official documents circulated for discussion.

The government of Japan, it has been reliably learnt, has also shown interest in sending a fleet of about 400 ships for recycling at Alang and has been keeping an eye on the yard. Japn has, in the past, pledged to upgrade facilities there, notably by building a dry dock .