Causes of accidents in firework industry

Synopsis: Labour reforms and technological advances within the fireworks industry is the need of the hour to minimise the causes of accidents in the firework industry.


Thousands of workers in Tamil Nadu’s famed fireworks’ industry are working in unsafe conditions. It resulted in a series of accidents. Such as

  • 20 workers died and 28 injured in the latest accident at a fireworks unit in Virudhunagar.  These incidents take place due to gross violation of norms governing the industry and human error in handling explosive substances.
  • 25 lives were lost in an accident in three fireworks factories in Virudhunagar (9), Cuddalore (9), and Madurai (7) in the past 11 months. 
  • After such accidents, only short-term action is taken. It includes
    • Registration and identification of cases,
    • Arrest the person responsible for an accident
    • Symbolic inspections,
    • Issuance of warnings and safety advisories

What are the causes of such accidents?

  • First, there is a large-scale illegal sub-leasing of workers for licenced firework units.
  • Second, there is a violation of the limit on workers to be deployed. This leads to crowding in each shed. 
  • Third, there is a piece-rate system in payment (payment to workers is provided based on the number of firecrackers produced by workers). People are tempted to produce more units per day. For example, a tired worker hurriedly emptied semi-finished crackers, which caused the recent accident.
  • Fourth, there is also a lack of trained workers. This encouraged the industry to hire new workers with limited skills leading to accidents.
  • Fifth, Unlicensed units have expanded. They mostly escape the inspection until an accident occurs. 

The way forward

  • Supervision of the chemicals to be mixed or stored is a key task to avoid casualty.
  • There should be periodic inspections at factories and strict penal action against violators.
  • Central and State governments must provide the needed manpower for enforcement agencies as the industry has grown manifold.
  • A continuous political push for labor reforms and technological innovations within the industry is also essential. 


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