Dear well-wishers of Indian workers
On 12th December 2022, we released our fourth annual flagship worker accident prevention report - CRUSHED2022.
This report has now expanded to include worker injury data from the auto sector supply chain from one state (Haryana) when we started in 2019 to six (Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan).
See the video below to hear workers from some of these states talk about the reasons for their accidents, injuries, the status of their factories, and the treatment they received after their accidents.
The report release event was attended by 150+ participants from different parts of India and around the globe.
Prof Surya Deva, School of Law, Macquarie University Australia, and Editor Business & Human Rights Journal said "Both Indian auto industry and the state and central governments are equally responsible for worker safety. OEMs have a responsibility all the way down the supply chain even if it's 10 levels. As the reform of the Bangladesh garment manufacturing industry shows,
change is possible if all stakeholders come together seriously."
Adv Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan, Chennai High Court said “In Chennai, there are a significant number of accidents each year in the auto sector supply chain. Most of these accidents involve non-permanent workers like contract workers, apprentices, trainees etc. who do not have adequate training to work on machines. We need better standards of Occupational Safety and Health under the law. We also need better implementation e.g., inspections must be in line with Convention 81 of the ILO.”
Mr Dinesh Vedpathak, ACMA, promised " We will provide free training to auto sector supply chain factories to prevent these accidents. We already have experience of improving more than a thousand such factories. We need our businesses to have safety as Number One priority. It has many positive business benefits."
Ms Divya Varma, Director, Centre for Labour, Aajeevika Bureau, said "As our Social Compact initiative shows, when the owners of the businesses intend to create a difference in their own and their supply chain's workers' working conditions, they can. As an example, Safe in India's work with Forbes Marshall, under this initiative, to improve ESIC compliance in their supply chain should deliver these benefits to workers much better than before"
Sandeep Sachdeva, Co-Founder & CEO, Safe in India Foundation, briefly presented the findings of the report with focus on the increasing national coverage of such accidents with the data now from six different states, comparison of Haryana and Maharashtra, and the status of progress made (or not) on SII's recommendations by the auto industry and the government.
Report launch glimpses
Key findings of CRUSHED2022:
1. Grievous worker-injuries identified in the deeper supply chains of 20+ OEMS across six states. Top three/two OEMs in these six states as reported by injured workers are:
in Haryana: Maruti-Suzuki, Hero, and Honda;
in Pune, Maharashtra: TATA and Mahindra;
in Chennai, Tamil Nadu: TVS, Ashok Leyland, and TATA;
in Karnataka, Toyota, TATA, and Ashok Leyland;
In Rudrapur, Uttarakhand: TATA, Bajaj, and Mahindra, and
in Neemrana, Rajasthan: Honda, Maruti Suzuki, and Hero.
Figure: Injured workers in the auto sector met and assisted by SII.
2. It is not just a smaller tier 2/tier 3 auto component factory problem. 1 in 5 accidents happen in an ACMA-member factory (some of the largest factories/suppliers and mostly tier 1 suppliers to the auto sector brands).
3. Official accident numbers are a fraction of those assisted by only SII every year in Haryana and Maharashtra (and potentially in other states); the problem is much worse in reality than officially recorded. Factories do not seem to report even the grievous injuries to the relevant government bodies, although all of them landed up at ESIC for their injury-healthcare - another government body - after the accident.
4. Haryana and Maharashtra state’s factory inspections have been consistently reducing for years; when reported, penalties are not enough to be a deterrent.
5. Overworked and Underpaid: c.50% injured workers report longer than 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week, and not fully paid for overtime.
6. A typical crush injury on a power press to fingers results in the loss of two (2.01) fingers per injured worker; about 60-70% injured workers still report loss of body parts, indicating continued dangerous working conditions.
7. 80%+ of injured workers from Haryana report working on machines/power press without safety sensors at the time of accident, and power press machines on which they were injured were operating without the required inspection.
8. ESIC (Employee State Insurance Corporation) woes: 60-70% of injured auto sector workers continue to receive their ESIC e-Pehchaan (identity) card only after an accident even though employers collect contribution amounts regularly. ESIC cards are to be issued on day 1 of the job, entitling the worker and their families to ESIC healthcare - they not only miss all the benefits, before their accidents, resulting in worst health consequences for the whole family, but it also results in delays in and sometimes decline of their compensations.
9. Most (c.50%) of the injured workers continue to be first taken to private hospitals and only later to ESIC hospitals in both Haryana and Maharashtra-though the latter appears to be better of the two in this. Why? We guess it's the time the factory management needs to get their ESIC registrations/paperwork in order AFTER the accident so that the injured/disabled workers then become ESIC’ responsibility and the owners can wash their hands off them.
SII reported progress (or not) made by a number of top 10 auto brands, SIAM and ACMA, since CRUSHED2019, and stressed on the need for bigger and better coordinated actions, urgently.
Recommendations from SII safety team span operations and policy improvements for the brands, SIAM & ACMA, and govt ministries.
Key recommendations include:
Auto brands (OEM) Board level responsibility for worker safety in a deeper supply chain.
Joint auto industry task force (possibly with the government)
Permanent joint safety team/working group of SIAM and ACMA
Honest, strict factory audits by OEMs and State ISH department.
More transparency & accountability of accident reporting, plus a confidential worker accident helpline.
SDG 8.8 reporting (the only SDG about worker safety) by auto brands and the government.
Establish industry standards for safety especially for deeper supply chain.
Workers should get their ESIC card on the first day of the job.
Safety policy & training of contract and migrant workers.
Thankfully, a number of auto sector brands have improved their OSH policies since CRUSHED2019/safetyNiti2021 but there is a long way to go as the chart below shows and the on-the-ground implementation of these policies needs to improve considerably:
Six auto-sector brands now have an OSH policy in the public domain (Bajaj, Hero, Honda, Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, Tata), while remaining four (Ashok Leyland, Eicher, Hyundai, TVS) claim to have the policy but continue to not have them in public domain.
2 OEMs have a charter of workplace guidelines for contract workers which includes health and safety (Bajaj) or a CoC that covers OSH and is applicable to contract workers (Hero).
Four OEMs (Eicher, Mahindra TATA, Honda-parent company) now have SCoC (Supplier Code of Conduct).
Four OEMs now have a stated human rights policy in the public domain (Bajaj, Eicher, Mahindra, Honda- parent company).
For further details, we urge you to read the executive summary here:
CRUSHED 2022 report is attached here.
For a full video of the event, please see on right.
At Safe in India, we will continue working towards improving worker safety in the auto-sector supply chain. We cannot do this alone; we need your support and guidance.
Join our Wall of Supporters here. Any donations before 31st March 2023 will receive match fundings from our strategic supporters from the batch of IIMA91. Please donate here and advise us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a safe and healthy 2023!