Maharashtra Govt Starts Safety Inspection of Covid-19 Hospitals

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In the wake of recent fire incidents in hospitals in Maharashtra, the government has started safety inspection and audit of electrical installations in state as well as private-run Covid-19 medical facilities, a minister said on Thursday. During the exercise, a major area of inspection and safety audit would be hospital ICUs, air conditioning system and lifts, energy minister Nitin Raut said in a statement.

Taking cognisance of a spate of fire incidents in hospitals in recent times, Raut said he had asked the Chief Electrical Inspector to audit electrical safety in hospitals across the state as per the existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Along with electric installations, safety audit of lifts would be also undertaken, he said.

Following the order, the Energy Department issued a circular on April 26 for conducting safety audit of hospitals and submission of a report to the state government. Accordingly, Dinesh Khonde, Chief Electrical Inspector of the state, issued an order for inspection on April 28 and submission of a report in 10 days.

The order consists of a check list andSOPs for the inspection exercise. Raut has instructed officials to take local bodies and the District Disaster Management Committee into confidence while conducting the audit and inspection.

"Following the pandemic, hospitals are overburdened which has created pressure on electric equipment. The continuous load on electric equipment may lead to mishaps and incidents of fire due to short-circuits. "If due precautions were taken, mishaps and untoward incidents could be prevented,"Raut said.

Inspections would help in finding out faulty electric installations and their findings would be communicated to hospital authorities for compliance, the minister said. "The purpose of the inspection is not to harass anyone or to target any hospital, but to ensure the safety of the patients.

"Considering the pandemic, some hospitals have increased their admission capacity which is likely to increase power consumption and subsequently cause extra load on the system. "The task is now to bring to the notice lacunae, if any, to hospital authorities in time to prevent mishaps," a statement of the energy department quoted Khonde as saying.

Khonde said it is mandatory for all COVID-19 hospitals and care centres to have standby diesel generator (DG) sets for electricity supply in case of a power breakdown. "It is mandatory for hospitals to get clearance for fire and electric safety, including lifts and electric installations," he said.

He said fire incidents in some ICU wards have happened due to short-circuit in the AC system, which will be inspected carefully during the exercise. The government move comes a day after four patients died when a fire broke out following a short circuit at a private hospital near Thane city on Wednesday, civic officials had said.

On April 23, thirteen COVID-19 patients died in a blaze at the intensive care unit of a private hospital at Virar in Palghar district. A fire broke out in Mumbai's Dreams Mall, which housed a COVID-19 designated hospital, in late March. The blaze, which raged for over 40 hours, claimed nine lives, including patients on ventilator support.

Ten infants died in a fire at a special newborn care unit of the Bhandara district hospital on January 9.

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