26 April 2011

Ghana: 14 Workers Injured At Tema Steel Factory

Tema — Fourteen workers of the Western Steel and Forgings Limited in Tema, including an Indian, last Thursday sustained various degrees of injury, when the Oxygen and Melting Furnace Plants at the smelting company exploded.

Two of the victims, whose genitals were said to have been badly affected by the explosion, are presently receiving treatment at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, whilst those whose conditions are not severe, are receiving treatment at the Narh-Bita Hospital, Tema, with two of them already discharged.

The Indian staff, Chandirka Bhagt, who also sustained injuries on his face and legs, has been admitted at a special ward at the Narh-Bita Hospital.

Information gathered by The Chronicle indicates that last Thursday's incident is the third to have happened at the company, in a spate of seven months. The paper learnt that the first incident happened in December 2010, and the second in February this year, which were not brought to the attention of the police.

The paper also gathered that the workers of the company do not work under good conditions and with protective gears such as helmet, gloves and boots.

Narrating their ordeal to The Chronicle at the Hospital, William Nuamah, one of the victims, disclosed that on Thursday morning, when he and his other colleagues arrived at the furnace plant, one of the supervisors instructed them to top up a container with smelting metal, which should have been done by the night shift workers.

Mr. Nuamah explained that the workers initially refused to take the instructions, but they later did it, as the instruction was coming from one of their supervisors.

"When a crane lifted one of the containers containing the smelted metal, we heard a heavy thump on the floor, spattering the hot liquid on all of us who were standing close to the spot, injuring us, including the Indian staff", he narrated.

He said, fortunately for them, the management of the company had paid them a visit to find out how they were doing, but alleged that it was because an Indian was involved that they visited them, because in all the previous instances, they never visited any victim.

Perhaps, the incident has been a blessing in disguise, as management of the company decided to pay them their four months accumulated salaries last Saturday, when they were on admission, The Chronicle was informed.

The Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr. Robert Kempes Ofosu-Ware and his Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Frank Asante, last Sunday paid a visit to the victims at the Hospital to wish them well.

The Tema Mayor told members of the Tema press corps that he and his team of Environmental Health officers would visit the company to inspect the condition of the machines they use to work with, as well as the conditions under which the workers work.

Efforts to reach management of Western Steel and Forgings Limited to comment on the incident proved futile, as no one was ready to talk.

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