A new year, a new decade, a new look to Asian Ceramics…and yet, sadly, tragically in fact, the same old problems in one of Asia’s major ceramic manufacturing hubs.
News breaking as AC went to press was that another employee of a sanitaryware manufacture in Gujarat had succumbed to a respiratory disease, directly linked to his workplace.
One more silicosis patient died in sanitarywares hub of Thangadh in Surendranagar district last Saturday. With this, the death toll due to silicosis among ceramic workers has climbed to seven this calendar year.
Somabhai alias Shyamjibhai Solanki succumbed to the lung disease while undergoing treatment at Medico Multi Speciality Hospital in Surendranagar town, an official release from the People’s Training and Research Centre (PRTC) said.
The 47-year-old was admitted to the private hospital three days ago after he complained of breathlessness. However, he eventually succumbed to the respiratory disease while undergoing treatment, PTRC, a Vadodara-based NGO working in the field of industrial safety and occupational health, further said.
This was the seventh death in 2019 due to silicosis in Thangadh, the hub of ceramic sanitaryware industry in Gujarat. The disease is caused by fine silica particles accumulating in lungs of workers. The particles adversely affect functioning of lungs, triggering a collapse of health of a patient by affecting functioning of other organs and liver immunity levels.
Solanki was a resident of Vasadva village in Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district. He had migrated to Thangadh to work in the ceramic industry. He had previously worked in a private ceramic sanitaryware manufacturing factory as a glazer (one who manually spray-dyes moulds of sanitaryware items with glazing material, which among other chemicals contain silica particles) for eight years before he started experiencing health problems in 2009. The following year, he was diagnosed with silicosis.
“He had worked in various ceramic units for around 10 years and developed silicosis in the process. He was bed-ridden for the last three years,” Jagdish Patel, director of PTRC said in the release.
Solanki is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. His son had dropped out of school two years ago and has been working in the same sector as his father for the last two years.
Dry, dusty Gujarat. When this editor first travelled there in 2005, and effectively brought this completely overlooked region to the world’s attention as a result, conditions on the whole were relatively poor. Sure, some companies had a more modern outlook, but most had under-age labour and sub-standard health and safety. It is terrible to think, therefore, that after the massive expansion the State has seen in the last 15 years, coupled with investments poured in by major manufacturers, suppliers and technology companies alike, that such incidents still happen.
Surely, there must be a STOP put to such issues? If this is not a green light to minimise human involvement in such areas, and instead encourage the much faster take-up of automated, robotic glazing, then I don’t know what is.
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