India issues fresh guidelines to factories post lockdown restart following gas leak tragedy

India has issued guidelines to ensure the safe restart of manufacturing facilities, as it looks forward to easing restrictions on people and economic activity after a weeks’ long nationwide lockdown.

India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The guidelines come days after a gas leak at a plant in Visakhapatnam operated by a subsidiary of South Korean petrochemicals maker LG Chem Ltd killed 11 people and hospitalised 800 others.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in a statement issued late on Saturday, said companies should consider the first week of restarting operations as a test run and not attempt to achieve high production targets during the period.

It added the lockdown may have resulted in residual chemicals in pipelines, valves and other areas that could pose a risk. It also said companies must ensure staff are trained to identify abnormalities that could indicate potential system failures.

The NDMA said factories must also carry out complete safety audits of entire plants before restarting activities.

India has recorded about 63,000 coronavirus cases, with nearly 2,000 deaths.

The lockdown is set to last until at least May 17. To this end, India has recently begun to ease curbs in areas with fewer infections to restart economic activity that had ground to a halt, impacting the livelihoods of tens of millions of people.