Around three-fourth of the auto-sector workers who sustained injuriesover the past five years have lost almost two fingers on an average to crush injuries, according to aSafe In India (SII) Foundationannual report based on the data of around 2,500 workers who suffered non-fatal injuries in factories in Faridabad-Gurugram-Neemrana auto belt.
Almost 80% of them were employed in the supply chains of some of the largest auto-sector brands.
Titled as “Crushed 2021”, the report, the third in a series on the state of auto sector workers safety in India, claimed that over 50% of the injuries reported to the SII occurred on power press machines with 2.04 fingers lost on an average and many losing whole hands.
“A majority of the workers injured on power presses are inadequately trained and have low education levels. Young and old workers lose fingers equally on power presses. A majority of the crush injuries were on power presses that should have had safety sensors but did not. Most factories violate many extant regulations; potential criminal offences,” said the report released during a two-hour-long online event on Wednesday.
More than a 100 auto workers who suffered the injuries also joined the event from 11 locations in Gurugram and Faridabad to share their experiences. They claimed the safety measures were bypassed by the companies to ensure increased production and they were not provided any safety gears such as ear plugs and helmets, except during the audit inspections.
Most of them conceded that they were not given any formal training in running the machines and had learnt it from their seniors.
Dangerous working conditions
Unfortunately, the proportion of workers with severe injuries — loss of body parts and bone fractures — has not reduced in the past five years indicating continuing underlying dangerous working conditions, said the report.
Maruti-Suzuki, Hero, Honda suppliers remain largest contributors to accidents in Gurugram (93%) and Faridabad (75%), as per the report with Bajaj, Eicher, JCB, Tata Motors, TVS, Yamaha suppliers also significant contributors in Gurugram, Faridabad, Rudrapur and Neemrana.
Almost one-fifth of the member companies of the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India also reported accidents stressing the fact that the problem was not confined to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, the report claimed.
Quoting the report, Sandeep Sachdeva, Co-founder and CEO, SII, said the lower the salary and the education, the worse was the injury received. As many as 92% of those injured were migrants, 81% educated only up to grade 10 and 71% earned less than ₹10,000 a month with no overtime pay for many despite a 12-hour shift, said Mr. Sachdeva.
The injured workers had not received their ESIC e-Pehchaan Card on the day of joining their jobs, as the ESIC regulations require. Interestingly, all these injured workers did receive their Card a few days after the accident.
The report claimed the government data had grossly under-reported factory injuries, inspections had come down and the new Labour Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code might make matters worse.
‘Safety environment a guaranteed right’
Kamal Jaswal, IAS (retd.), also present at the event, said it was the moral responsibility of the original equipment makers to ensure that the safety measures were adhered to in their supply chains and the “bloodied” spare parts should not be accepted by them. He said the safety environment at workplace was a right guaranteed in the Constitution and there were various Acts and rules for it.
The 78-page report also made certain recommendations and suggestions to the OEMs, auto companies associations and the Central and State governments to reduce the accidents.
Anil Swarup, IAS (retd.), lauded the efforts of the Foundation in bringing out the detailed report and said the suggestions were “practical” and “doable”.