Ahmedabad’s Factory Workers Face Acute Heat Stress: TISS study

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Ahmedabad’s Factory Workers Face Acute Heat Stress: TISS study

| Updated: May 20, 2024 11:21

Improved ventilation, access to cool water and regular breaks are vital to ensure well-being of workers

Gujarat is reeling under an intense heatwave and people have been advised to avoid stepping out in the heat unless absolutely necessary. Imagine the plight of factory workers in steel mills and foundries! 

There are over 65,000 small-scale factories, employing over 2.5 lakh workers, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Ceramics and steel are just two of the common items manufactured. The flip side of this industrialisation is that the factory workers are facing hazardous heat stress.     

A recent study published in the ‘International Journal of Occupational Safety and Health’ says that factory workers, particularly those toiling in steel rolling mills and foundries, are facing potentially hazardous heat stress.

Investing in improved ventilation, ensuring access to cool water and timed breaks are necessary, stresses the study.

TISS research 

The study is based on a year-long investigation in 2023 led by researchers from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

These alarming readings are the norm. The study covered 11 medium-sized factory units, approximately 4,000 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft having fans, exhaust fans, vents and ventilation.

Workers endure factory temperatures that breach safety limits of 27.5°C set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) even during winter. Summer  makes these factories furnaces, with average temperatures in steel mills soaring to 46.5°C and sometimes even touching 50.6°C. 

Serious health issues

Both steel rolling mill and foundry workers exhibited elevated heart rates and oral temperatures, often exceeding OSHA safety limits. 

The study also found maximum heart rates surpassing the OSHA threshold of 110 bpm in all seasons and units. Similarly, maximum oral temperatures exceeded safe levels of 37.5°C for workers. 

Many industries have inadequate cooling systems in the working place, which is due to the poor regulatory framework, states the study. The discomfort of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) often makes workers forgo this safety.

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