3 workers die of suffocation at Peenya factory

Death in tank: Lack of awareness, negligence by factory owner prove fatal

3 workers die of suffocation at Peenya factory

Three workers of an iron forging factory at Peenya Industrial Area, who got into an oil tank, died of suspected asphyxiation early Thursday morning. S Nagaraju, 26, his brother S Krishna, 24, and Srinivas, 20, all residents of Kammagondanahalli, are the dead.

The accident occurred at the Hi-Tech Forging (Bangalore) Pvt Ltd, a factory engaged in casting iron into pipes and blocks for machine tools. About 50 men work at the factory owned by D Rambabu.

On Wednesday night, five workers including the three victims, who worked as helpers, were on night shift when the accident occurred.

The iron is melted in a furnace and moulded into bars and pipes at the factory for which furnace oil is used. The oil is stored in a tank in the underground sump behind the factory, employees told Deccan Herald.

“Usually, the oil is lifted from tank using a pump connected to the furnace. But on Wednesday night, the motor did not work and the workers thought of lifting the oil manually. Nagaraj got into the tank first to lift oil in buckets. As he did not come out or answer any of the calls by those above, his brother Krishna and another worker Srinivas entered the tank in search of him. But sadly none of them came out,” Shivanna, the security guard who was on night shift told Deccan Herald.

Desperate search

Shivanna and another worker brought a torch and started searching for the three workers.

“We saw them lying in the tank unconscious. Another worker, who was with me, was also about to fall into the tank as he slipped. But I saved him,” Shivanna added.

They immediately informed the Peenya police. The fire brigade personnel, who rushed to the spot, fished out the bodies.

“The workers trapped in the tank may have died of asphyxiation as they couldn’t come out of it,” said
Hampagol, Technical Director, Fire and Emergency Services.

He said the furnace oil is a petrochemical product with strong qualities of inflammability and evaporation.

Poisonous gas

“When such chemical is stored in a tank, there is no scope for aeration and so the ambient temperature in the tank increases, leading to vapourisation of methane – a pungent poisonous gas – present in the oil. When the workers opened the mouth of the tank and got into it, these vapours of poisonous methane would have caused suffocation,” he explained.

The Peenya police have registered a case of negligence against the owner of the factory Rambabu and the manager Satish.

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