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Appliance makers eager, but MHA guidelines make restarting operations tough

The Gujarat-based facility of an electrical goods maker is packed with machinery, to manufacture a slew of appliances. The site manager is eager to switch them on.

The facility falls in the green zone and is allowed to resume production amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

But the strict conditions imposed by the home affairs ministry (MHA) is giving the company sleepless nights.

“A gap of one hour between shifts would mean that we will lose a lot of man-hours. When production has suffered for almost 45 days, this is an additional burden,” said the site manager at this facility.

The unit makes home appliances, lights and wires.

There are more challenges, added the manager.  The six feet distance between two workers is not manageable in close-knit smaller manufacturing units like theirs where equipment are located within the feet of each other.

In a list of consolidated guidelines for manufacturing, MHA said social distancing norms must be adhered to during the lockdown to minimise COVID-19 spread, manufacturers feel that the conditions are too stringent.

Take this consumer durables firm in Maharashtra. The manufacturing facility has been given the green signal to begin operations but the company is wondering how to enforce MHA guidelines.

“The plant site requires constant movement of workers up and down the premises in designated lifts. But if there is a limit on the number of people allowed in lifts how will operations run smoothly,” said the vice president of this firm.

MHA guidelines state that not more than two/four persons will be allowed to travel in lifts or hoists.

The person quoted above also said transportation of workers is a problem since the vehicles can only run at 30-40 percent passenger capacity as per MHA guidelines. The company has 350 employees in each shift.

According to him, since the work-shifts start at specific times, staggered entry of workers may not be feasible. He added that the company would be ready to provide masks and gloves for safety and would ensure workers maintain a safe distance in the vehicle.

Apart from social distancing, MHA ordered premises to be periodically disinfected including the equipment, meeting rooms, lifts, canteens among others. Medical insurance for workers has also been made mandatory.

Consumer durables firms said these guidelines would lead to longer work hours for the staff, while overall costs will increase by 10-15 percent due to additional expenses of transport, sanitation and insurance. Money Control

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