FAQs on Operation of Industrial Establishments under MHA Order

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued consolidated guidelines of measures to be taken by Ministries/ Departments of Government of India, State/ UT Governments and State/ UT authorities for containment of COVID-19 in the country, vide Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 15th April 2020.  In order to mitigate hardship to the public, the order permitted select additional activities to come into effect from 20th April 2020. These limited exemptions will be operationalized by States/ UTs/ district administrations based on strict compliance to existing guidelines.  The order also places an obligation on States/ UTs/ district administrations to ensure that all preparatory arrangements with regard to the Standard Operating Procedures for social distancing in workplaces, factories etc. are in place, before allowing these select additional activities.

A set of FAQs (for industries and industrial establishments) based on the order have been provided hereunder:

  1. What industries/ industrial establishments have been permitted to operate?

The following industries/ industrial establishments have been permitted to operate as per the order:

  • Industries operating in rural areas i.e., outside the limits of corporations and municipalities
  • Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Oriented Units (EoUs), industrial estates and industrial townships.
  • Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates
  • Food processing industries in rural areas i.e., outside the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities
  • Production units, which require continuous process and their supply chain
  • Manufacturing of IT hardware
  • Coal production, mines and mineral production, their transportation, supply of explosives and activities incidental to mining operations
  • Manufacturing units of packaging material
  • Jute industries with staggered shifts and social distancing
  • Oil and gas exploration/ refinery
  • Brick kilns in rural areas i.e., outside the limits of municipal corporations an d municipalities

2. Is specific permission required to operate the establishments?

As the order mandates that civic bodies have to ensure that preparatory arrangements have been made in in the industrial establishments, factories etc., it is imperative that permission needs to be sought to operate them. The civic bodies of most cities have issued directions to seek permission by making online applications. (for eg- The Maharashtra government has asked factories to apply online to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation or the District Collectorate concerned)

3. Can the establishments engage their entire workforce?

Most civic bodies have issued directions stating that  units can work with upto 30-40% only of their staff strength.

4. Can workers from hotspots be allowed to report to work?

No, workers from areas declared as hotspots are not allowed to report to work.

5. How are the shifts  and lunches supposed to be arranged?

There should strictly be no overlap of shifts and there should be a gap of one hour between shifts. The employer should ensure that there is staggered lunch with social distancing in canteens.

6. Which parts of an establishment need to be disinfected?

  • Entrance gate of building, office etc
  • Cafeteria and canteens
  • Meeting room, conference halls/ open areas available/ verandah/ entrance gate of site, bunkers, porta cabins, building etc.
  • Equipment and lifts
  • Washroom, toilet, sink, water points etc.
  • Walls/ all other surfaces

7. Will passes be required for employees to come to work?

Yes, passes may need to be obtained for employees to come to work.  Kindly refer to the state-wise regulations/ guidelines issued by civic bodies( For eg. Haryana government has mandated that application can be made on www.saralharyana.gov.in  for movement passes).

8. Will public transport be available for workers coming from outside?

No, public transport shall not be available. Special transportation facilitiy without any dependency on the public transport system should be arranged.

9. Can the special transportation vehicles be filled to maximum capacity?

No, the vehicles should be allowed to work only with 30-40% capacity.

10. Are travelling passes required for such vehicles?

Kindly refer to the guidelines issued by local civic bodies (For eg. The Maharashtra Government has mandated that local police have to give permission for the movements of vehicles and employees)

11. Can vehicles and machinery be brought into the premise without any procedures?

All vehicles and machinery entering the premise should be disinfected by spray mandatorily. 

12. Can employees come to work on their own vehicles or by walking?

Since the lockdown is still in effect, it is not advisable for employees to come to work by walking or on their private vehicles. Reference should be made to guidelines issued by local civic bodies regarding use of private vehicles and walking, to reach work.

13. Is there any requirement regarding seating at workplaces?

Seating should be arranged in such a manner that there is a distance of at least 6 feet between people on job sites and in gatherings, meetings and training sessions. Large meetings or gathering of 10 or more people should be discouraged.

14.  How many people can be allowed to travel together in lifts/ hoists?

Not more than 2 or 4 persons ( depending on size) should be allowed to travel in lifts of hoists. Also, the use of staircase should be encouraged.

15.  Are visitors allowed on the site?

No, there should be total ban on non-essential visitors at site.

16. Is thermal screening mandatory only when entering the workplace?

Thermal screening should be done of every one entering and exiting the workplace. A list of hospitals/ clinics in the locality, which are authorized to treat COVID-19 patients, should also be identified and list should be available at the workplace at all times.

17. Is it mandatory to provide medical insurance for workers?

Yes, it is mandatory to provide medical insurance for workers.

18. What if the workers are covered under Employee State Insurance?

A group insurance cover is not a statutory obligation like ESI and is typically taken for those not covered under ESI. With this order, employees covered under ESI may also become eligible for health insurance coverage from their employers. 

19. What will happen if the SOP mandated in the order is not followed?

Non-compliance with SOP can attract legal action against the owner of the establishment.