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CRUSHED 2023 Released! Fifth edition - Seven years of reporting - 5000+ injured workers

Now covering six Indian states. Additional focus on injured women workers.

Fifth edition of CRUSHED, CRUSHED 2023 released

Remembering Shri Vinay Dixit, a true friend, supporter and a thought leader of Safe in India Foundation.

The 5th annual edition of CRUSHED, SII’s annual flagship report analyzing the thousands of crushing injuries to workers in the auto sector supply chain, CRUSHED 2023, with a special focus on women workers in the auto sector supply chain, was released during the 4th edition of SII’s Shramik Sammelan (Workers'-Meet) held on 26th November 2023.

Jyoti, an injured woman worker's daughter's appeal to auto sector brands

Respected Auto Sector brands,

We are female workers who operate power press machines in companies based in Faridabad. Our companies produce auto components, and while making these components, we have got injured. We hope that you will take the time to read this letter. We are expressing our difficulties to you. We have to deal with many problems in our companies. When we join, we are not provided with an ESIC card. Under the guise of hiring helpers, we are trained to operate power press machines. We receive lower salaries than men, even though we perform work equal to men. We are never given promotions equivalent to men in the company. We operate machines without proper safety measures. The production pressure is so high that even for drinking water or using the restroom, we face reprimands. Overtime pay is also not given in full. If we get injured while working, we are dismissed from the company. Despite these hardships, working is a necessity for thousands of women like us so that we can provide good education and upbringing to our children, and also, our safety should be prioritized to reduce the risk of injuries. We request that you understand our problems and ensure at least equal conditions for women as for men in the workplace.

Rekha Devi, Suman Yadav, Sarita, and Suchita

(Power Press operators)

The report was launched in the presence of 1000+ workers from the auto sector supply chain in Faridabad, Manesar, Bawal, and Gurugram who attended the event. This included over 200 women workers from these locations c.80% of them were injured in factory accidents.

Injured workers from the auto sector supply chain

Some CRUSHED 2023 highlights:

Findings of CRUSHED 2023 presented by by VN Saroja, Senior Advisor, SII at the 4th Shramik Sammelan (Workers Conclave)

Thousands of workers continue to lose fingers in the Indian auto sector manufacturing - annually, nationally.

In FY22-23, SII helped over 1,500 workers, contributing to a total of 6,000+ assisted (5000+ auto sector) since 2016, primarily in Haryana and Maharashtra. Recent data from CRUSHED 2023 reveals a widespread issue in other auto sector hubs like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan.

80%+ of injured workers found and assisted by SII in Haryana and Maharashtra are from the auto sector supply chain

The thousands of workers injured include many women, who also get paid less than men.

Recently, SII has seen a rise in the number of injured women in the auto sector's supply chain. Due to financial constraints, many women often opt for risky power-press jobs for just Rs. 1000-1500 more than their usual roles. This leads to lower wages for women compared to men, especially in Faridabad, where more women run these machines. Shockingly, women earn far less than men for the same work, and supervisors appear to force them into these roles when fewer operators are available, and the production pressure is high.

Crush injuries are a multi-state, multi-brand problem.

CRUSHED 2023 reinforces the fact that crush injuries are a multi-state issue impacting all auto-hubs in India.

The top six auto sector brands (OEMs) in whose supply chain the injured workers worked accounted for 75% of all such injuries nationally - Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. These are Maruti Suzuki, TATA, Honda, Hero, Mahindra, and Bajaj. As illustrated in the CRUSHED 2023 graphic, the supply chains of other major brands, i.e.,  JCB, Ashok Leyland, TVS, Eicher, Hyundai, Escorts, BMW, etc., are also responsible for a significant number of crush injuries in their respective hubs.  

Top three auto sector brands in auto hub States, indicating their dominant responsibility in these States

Top six responsible auto sector brands nationally - In Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (Haryana- Apr22-Jul23; Maharashtra- Aug22-Jul23; Others- Aug22-Oct22) from SII’s database of injured workers

Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, and TVS have yet to begin engaging meaninfully with SII despite repeated requests. 

Among the top 10 auto sector brands in the country, Bajaj, Maruti-Suzuki, Honda, Tata Motors, Hero, Eicher, and Hyundai are engaging with SII with clarifications, confirmations, promises and some actions for improving worker safety in their supply chains, but Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and TVS aren’t.

The scale of the worker-injury problem is not fully understood due to underreporting.

Even the most comprehensive accident data in the country, the Director-General Factory Advisory Labour Institute (DGFASLI) data, could be seriously understating injuries in factories by a factor of 20. For example, SII supported more than 803 injured workers in Haryana in 2020, while the official data for non-fatal injuries for the same year reported to DGFASLI by the state of Haryana was 36. Anecdotal evidence suggests this could be the case across all manufacturing hubs nationwide. This appear to be a historical problem that needs correcting asap for right insights and actions.

Injured workers as panelists at the Shramik Sammelan, sharing their experiences

The average injured worker is young, lowly educated, an inter-state migrant, and works as a non-permanent worker with no union membership. A significant proportion falls below the minimum wage rate.

A majority of injured workers SII has identified or supported, i.e., 63% in Haryana, 80% in Maharashtra, and 100% in Uttarakhand, are non-permanent employees, often hired through contractors, and with not much documentation. In Gurugram, 26%+ injured workers; in Faridabad, 36%+ of injured workers; and in Pune, 17% appear to be paid below the minimum wages of a skilled worker.

The impact of crush injuries is catastrophic to the injured worker.

More than two-thirds (c.70%) of crush injuries result in fingers lost, and these crush injuries result in an average of two fingers lost. Even in cases where fingers are not lost, the effects are brutal and include conditions like fractures, wounds, nerve damage, etc.

Crush injuries are a direct result of dangerous machines, unsafe working conditions, and inadequate safety provisions, and workers’ reasonable voices are not being heard.

CRUSHED data proves that almost half of the injured workers were aware that the machine was “malfunctioning” and could not do anything about it. In Haryana and Maharashtra, c.48% of injured workers identified the malfunctioning of machines as a reason for the accident, out of which 54% of workers reported that they knew it before operating. Most of them informed their supervisors, but obviously, their complaints were not taken seriously.

In Haryana and Maharashtra, c.50% injured workers identified the malfunctioning of machines as a reason for the accident; out of which 54% reported that they knew it before operating (Gurugram: 2019-23; Faridabad: 2021-23; Pune: Aug 22-23)

‘Double Stroke’ and ‘loose parts’ in the power press are the most common causes of loss of fingers, an indication of poor machine maintenance and delay in the replacement of even inexpensive parts. Reportedly, it costs less than Rs14,000 a year to replace faulty parts in many of these poorly maintained power presses.

Twice as many workers lose fingers on power presses than other machines.

Power press machines continue to cause most of these accidents. With minor variations, this appears to be true across all auto sector hubs.

Majority of crush injuries happen on power press machines (Apr23-Jul23)

Additionally, power press injuries are worse for the workers, with the average injured worker losing half a finger more on a power press machine accident than on other machines.

CRUSHED 2023 data highlights an ecosystem that failed India's workers multiple times. 

CRUSHED presents data on the lack of audits, incorrect accident reports, poor compliance with ESIC rules, and breach of working hour rules.

a. Workers continue to get their ESIC “e-Pehchaan” card only after the accident and not on the day of joining the job, as they should.

Majority of injured workers get their ESIC e-Pehchaan card after the accident: Pune, Maharashtra worse than Haryana and Rudrapur, Uttarakhand (Apr23-Jul23)

b. Most injured workers worked for more than the legal cap of 48 hours a week, and not paid legal ovetime rates

Excessive work hours appear to be a possible cause for accidents.

Almost all injured workers worked more than 48 hours a week - the legal limit - with c.70% more than 60 hours a week (Gurugram: 2019-23; Faridabad: 2021-23; Pune: Aug22-23)

c. There appears to be significant false reporting by employers in “Accident Reports” submitted to ESIC, indicating potential legal violation(s)

 In more than half cases, “reason of accident” as reported in the Accident Report is different from what workers advised to SII (Gurugram: 2019-23; Faridabad: 2021-23)

d. Audits do not happen, or workers are asked to leave during audits.

Around half the workers reported that audits did not happen in their presence.

50%+ injured workers in Haryana and Maharashtra, report that the audit did not take place in their presence (Gurugram- 2019-Mar23; Faridabad- 2021-Mar23; Pune- Aug22-Mar23)

SII  again made a case for collective action on a war footing: 

The SII safety team has been making recommendations to the auto sector brands (OEMs) (operational & policy), SIAM & ACMA

Top five operational recommendations for auto sector brands (OEMs) are:

(1) Map the deeper supply chain to be able to take effective action.

(2) Create, publish, and implement a Supplier Code of Conduct (SCoC) that covers NGRBC, ESIC and other compliance requirements.

(3) Include all non-permanent workers in their own factories in the OSH Policy statement at par with permanent workers.

(4) Improve transparency and accountability of accident reporting in the supply chain, weed out habitual offenders and commercially reward the safest factories.

(5) Initiate/strengthen effective ground-level actions, e.g., surprise worker safety audits and worker training.

Top five policy recommendations for auto sector brands (OEMs) are:

(1) OEM boards to take responsibility for worker safety in their deeper supply chain.

(2) Create a joint industry-level task force with SIAM/ACMA (with any agreed participation from SII).

(3) Advocate to the government to make BRSR mandatory for all auto sector brands irrespective of ownership structure, for a level playing field and better transparency.

(4) Strategic international compliance and reporting annually on Indicator 8.8 of SDG8 (the only SDG indicator about worker safety).

(5) Set up mechanisms to ensure that workers' voices and feedback in the entire deeper supply chain are heard.

Top five recommendations for SIAM and ACMA are:

(1) Bring the auto sector brands, suppliers and experts together for effective ideation and implementation plans to prevent accidents in the auto sector deeper chain, while also improving much needed India’s labour productivity.

(2) Set up a permanent joint safety team/working group of SIAM and ACMA, with SII’s participation as required, to showcase good practices and train members on strategic and tactical costs of accidents and how to reduce them.

(3) Establish industry standards for safety in auto sector manufacturing.

(4) Integrate worker safety and health as core organisational values of its members, fitting with their sustainability claims.

(5) Support SIAM and ACMA members in complying with NGRBC and BRSR for long-term business success, compliance and international reputation.

These recommendations have been consistently made in earlier reports of both the CRUSHED and SafetyNiti series, and we have continued to engage with them to get them implemented. The tables below show the progress made on the same

The progress on SII’s five operational recommendations (Apr22-Aug23)

The progress on SII’s top 5 policy recommendations Apr22-Aug23

The progress on SII’s top 5 recommendations made to SIAM Apr22-Aug23

The progress on SII’s top 5 recommendations made to ACMA (Apr22 to Aug23)

For further details, we urge you to read the executive summary here.

The CRUSHED 2023 report is attached here. 

Media coverage of CRUSHED 2023

Prof. Ankur Sarin, IIM Ahmedabad wrote a powerful and important opinion piece in Deccan Herald based on CRUSHED 2023.

The report was also covered in Business Standard, IndiaSpend, the Wire and Amar Ujala.

CRUSHED 2023 release announcement in Delhi, Gurugram, & Faridabad editions of Amar Ujala

At Safe in India, we will continue working towards raising awareness of and improving worker safety in the auto-sector supply chain. We cannot do this alone; we need your support and guidance. 

Have a safe and healthy 2024!

See all our wall of supporters here.

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