Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine   Official publication of Indian Association of  0ccupational  Health  
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 105-108

Compressed Air Working in Chennai During Metro Tunnel Construction: Occupational Health Problems

Consultant in Diving Medicine, Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ajit C Kulkarni
3A, Siddhi Vinayak Chambers, Opp. MIG Cricket Club, Bandra East, Mumbai - 400 051, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_38_17

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Chennai metropolis has been growing rapidly. Need was felt of a metro rail system. Two corridors were planned. Corridor 1, of 23 km starting from Washermanpet to Airport. 14.3 km of this would be underground. Corridor 2, of 22 km starting from Chennai Central Railway station to St. Thomas Mount. 9.7 km of this would be underground. Occupational health centre's role involved selection of miners and assessing their fitness to work under compressed air. Planning and execution of compression and decompression, health monitoring and treatment of compression related illnesses. More than thirty five thousand man hours of work was carried out under compressed air pressure ranged from 1.2 to 1.9 bar absolute. There were only three cases of pain only ( Type I) decompression sickness which were treated with recompression. Vigilant medical supervision, experienced lock operators and reduced working hours under pressure because of inclement environmental conditions viz. high temperature and humidity, has helped achieve this low incident. Tunnelling activity will increase in India as more cities will soon opt for underground metro railway. Indian standard IS 4138 – 1977 ” Safety code for working in compressed air” needs to be updated urgently keeping pace with modern working methods.


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