ODISHA: Five contract workers of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL were taken seriously ill following leakage of carbon monoxide (CO) gas near the water cooling tower at the Blast Furnace V on Friday.
Workers of the Rotodine Engineering, a sub-contract firm, were repairing the water pipeline of the cooling tower at a height of 43 meters when the mishap took place.
Sources said close to the water pipeline, a CO gas pipeline is located and due to leakage of 100 to 200 ppm volume of CO gas, all five of them became unconscious at about 12 noon.
The Tata Projects Ltd (TPL) engaged in maintenance and repair works of the BF-V had sub-contracted the work to Rotodine Engineering.
Four of the injured, identified as Haribandhu Swain, Sibu Dey, Umakanta Mohanty and Pankaj Sharma, have been kept under 24 hours observation at the Intensive Care unit (ICU) of the RSP-run Ispat General Hospital (IGH), while the fifth one Ranjit Patra is under-treatment at the IGH.
The mishap occurred two days after a high-level safety team’s visited to RSP. The team comprising RK Elangovan, Deputy Director and Devendra Kolekar, Deputy Director (Medical), both from the Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes under Union Ministry of Labour and Employment and Dr Malay Pradhan, Deputy Director of Factories and Boilers (Safety), Government of Odisha, had returned on Wednesday after reviewing safety precautions at the RSP.
Earlier, on January 25, six contractor workers had suffered asphyxiation at the BFI due to leakage of CO gas and later one of them succumbed at the IGH.
General Secretary of Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS), the recognized trade union of the RSP, HS Bal blamed it on outsourcing of critical technical jobs to private parties.
He claimed that contract workers lack the technical skills of regular workers and expose themselves to life risks. He also blamed RSP saying its slogan of making accident-free steel sounds hollow as safety aspects are never given priority.