PM orders review of safety measures at all industrial estates

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BANGKOK, May 8 – Following three major industrial safety and workplace accidents in the past week, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered the Ministry of Industry to review safety measures at all industrial estates in the eastern province of Rayong.

Saturday’s explosion and fire at the Bangkok Synthetics Co (BST) petrochemical factory at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate killed 12 people, while over 100 were affected and remain hospitalised. Sunday’s chemical leak at the Aditya Birla Chemicals (Thailand) factory in the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate affected at least 40 workers and others with dizziness.

Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said the review is to prevent problems related to the handling of toxic substances, chemicals, flammable materials, which will harm the public. Safety plans and emergency responses are to be reviewed with the Labour and Public Health ministries and local communities for further public safety readiness.

Maintenance systems must be rechecked every three months, while risk prevention plans are required for further renewal of permission certificates for factories.

The prime minister also assigned each province to collaborate with local industrial estates and entrepreneurs to set up an information centre to spread out news to nearby communities, with assigned responsibility to link related updates to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Social Security Office has prepared a budget of more than Bt18 million to compensate families of those who died in the incident and those who are injured, said Acting Government Spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard.

On a related matter, Labour Protection and Welfare Department Director-General Arthit Ismo ordered labour inspection officials to monitor labourers in factories nationwide for their health and safety for fear of a repeat of any incident such as at the Bangkok Synthetics Co (BST) petrochemical factory at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate.

Meanwhile, the Stop Global Warming Association will petition the Supreme Administrative Court on Thursday, following the accidents in the two plants on the weekend, asking it to order the Industry Ministry and the IEAT to revoke the permission certificates of Bangkok Synthetics and Aditya Birla Chemicals.

Chairman Srisuwan Janya said the association had previously identified the two plants as among the 76 factories which his organisation and the public had previously petitioned the court to consider.

It will also ask the court to order Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) to revoke the two plants’ reports on their impacts on health and environment.