Medical Devices

Hemant Sapra, President, SAMA, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Hemant Sapra, President, Safe Application Manufactures Association (SAMA) to know about the recently introduced OSH Code and the challenges associated with face mask manufacturing in India.

What are your thoughts on the recently created Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions (OSH) Code?
Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions code is a wonderful initiative by the government. I laud the government for taking this outstanding initiative of revamping the safety standards for all the workers of India. There are many old redundant factories taking care of the health and welfare workers in the Indian industry. The government has scrapped the Factory Act subsuming with it 13 other acts that took care of the health and welfare of workers in the industry. These have been brought under a single code called OSH Code, passed in October 2020 by the Lok Sabha. Right now, the government is in the process of creating rules, regulations and laying down standards under these codes for all the workers in India.

What will the Role of PPP be with the advent of OSH code?
The Ministry of Labour, responsible for drafting the rules and regulations under this code in India, has taken this excellent initiative of making private entities a part of formulating this code. It is a welcome initiative as the industries are now a part of forming rules and regulations. It is the first time the government has taken such an initiative where the Government officials and the private industry people will sit together to create the standards for Indian industry. One side has the lawmakers, and the other side has the people who have to implement the law. This initiative takes care of implementing the law in the first stage itself. We are extremely delighted to be a part of the committee to set standards for the Indian industry. We are assured that this is going to transform the PPE industry in India.What are the market trends concerning the facemask manufacturing sector?
The mask market has grown since Covid-19 set in. The market was already prevailing in the industry for the past 70 years. Industrial Dust Masks were manufactured previously to protect workers from harmful airborne particles. Other countries were using masks against pollution. India should have been using them too, but we never thought of it. With Covid-19 coming in, masks have become an essential day-to-day requirement. Masks are here to stay to save people from viruses and pollution, helping them live healthy lives. In the past ten years, we have witnessed novel new viruses hitting the globe now and then, making masks a necessity. Masks are the saviours that will permanently protect people from these uncertainties.

What is the Indian market scenario in facemask manufacturing?
In Feb 2020, there were only two masks manufacturers in India. They have been manufacturing masks for 25 years and were primarily supplying to the Indian industry and exporting. Their production was not more than 100 to 1000 pieces a day. Another manufacturer was mainly importing and selling in the Indian market. From 2020 onwards, since the pandemic hit, we have more than 500 manufacturers producing N-95 masks (N 95 is the wrong terminology altogether), out of which 200 have achieved the BIS licence. BIS licence is the quality hallmark to ascertain that the masks they are manufacturing are of the right quality to fight the virus. N-95 terminology comes from the US. Any mask tested in a lab in the USA by a testing lab called NIOSH when it passes their standard, it is certified as NIOSH N-95.

Similarly, In India, when you submit to BIS, the Indian government gives you a certificate called ISI mark FFP 2. The FFP2 and N-95 are both equal in terms of safety for protecting you against pollution and virus. We have products of the same standards available in India. So, I request you to trust India and promote “Made in India” products.

What will be the future of manufacturing facemasks in the Indian market once the pandemic is over?
Five hundred manufacturers who have come up in the Indian market are probably from different fields of business. They took up a new venture seeing the emerging opportunity, and will return to regular business, which was disrupted by the pandemic. 90% of these manufacturers will change the business by the time pandemic settles down.

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