Thiruvananthapuram: Vishnu, who installs and repairs GI roof sheets could not reach out to repair the drain pipe on the edge of a sheet at Thirumala. His colleague extended a ladder parallelly from the parapet and held on to one edge while Vishnu walked like a circus artist to the other edge of the ladder to repair the leaking pipe in rain.
After watching the acrobatics with baited breath, onlookers asked whether he did not have a safety harness.
“Unless the work is a major one we do not carry safety harness. Helmets are of no use if you fall from such heights,” he said. This was an instance of a safety precaution overlooked by masons, painter, plumbers, air-conditioner mechanics and electricians at work sites. The house owners and small-scale contractors who can be held liable for accidents also do not ensure safety.
“Scaffolding giving up is traditionally very common. No one writes about this in the newspaper unless someone dies. A certain per cent of workers are crippled due to workplace injuries before they become senior citizens” said Ashok Kumar, a government contractor.
As per studies made on accidents at small-scale workplaces in Kerala, around 1.6 per cent of accidents in small worksites cause death. Around 10 per cent lead to fractures and 40 per cent are flesh wounds and the rest are dermatological ailments. While the labour department takes major builders and their skyscraper projects to the task, the small-scale construction sites, which forms the majority are ignored.
“In small worksites, action can be taken based on complaints. The work of houses often start and stop many times before completion. So, surprise visit does not yield any results. The building inspectors of civic bodies can suggest changes in structures to improve safety at worksites,” said a Grade II assistant labour officer....