The Issue

20 workers lose their hands or fingers every day”, just in Gurgaon’s manufacturing sector, impacting their health and livelihood permanently.

They are also the most vulnerable:

  • 90% migrants

  • 65% on precarious contract terms

  • 50% under 30 years

  • 65% lost fingers/hands

Several thousand workers suffer the same fate nationally every year, especially in smaller factories, which is both a humanitarian and economic loss to the country.

Safe in India Foundation (SII)’s Pillars of Actions to address the above problems are (as at June 2021)

Pillar 1: Assisting injured/disabled workers with ESIC healthcare/compensation to live with dignity

Since setting up our first Worker Assistance Centre in Manesar, Gurgaon, in December 2016, we have provided free-of-cost assistance to thousands of injured workers in distress—the likes of Sushma Devi and Shyam dev Pandit—by helping them obtain better ESIC healthcare and ESIC compensation.

We have now facilitated healthcare for 2,500+ injured workers, with more than 10x return just in terms of the worker compensation, especially permanent disability benefits (“pensions”), valued at INR 20+ crore. This has helped a number of them restart their lives; Provided evidence and data from more than 2,000 auto-sector workers to inform SII’s accident prevention agenda (see Pillar 2 below); Provided evidence and data for 2,500+, mainly injured, workers for influencing regional and national improvement in ESIC services (see Pillar 3 below); and Identified worker networks, and

Pillar 2: Improving workplace safety (and thereby productivity) in manufacturing, with focus on the auto-sector supply chain, to reduce accidents, hopefully eliminate the need for Pillar 1, and support achievement of SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)

Based on the experiences of workers we assist, we engage with auto brands, their apex bodies SIAM and ACMA, and the government to help improve safety practices in the supply chain, which employs 1+ crore people, of which more than half work in the supply chains.

Since starting this pillar in mid-2017, we have launched an annual accident prevention report series CRUSHED2019 and CRUSHED2020, which have been tested and accepted by DG FASLI, the safety arm of the Central Labour Ministry, and the three largest auto brands in Gurgaon; Created high awareness of unsafe factory conditions in the auto-sector supply chain among government, auto sector, relevant apex bodies, and the public. See the support received from Indian Labour Minister, SIAM and ACMA, Maruti-Suzuki, DC Gurgaon , Director IIMA, among several others; The Central and Haryana governments have created working groups in response to our recommendations. Several initiatives have been agreed with the auto sector and the government and need to be progressed; Signed an MoU with the MSME Ministry to implement safety initiatives, including a communication plan for MSME. Also inducted in the BIS committee to improve power press safety specifications/standards, which is expected to address more than half of the accidents; A number of auto brands have declared marginally better OSH policies for their supply chain since our first report CRUSHED2019, and we expect further improvement after the launch of Safety-Niti2021, our inaugural report on this topic. However, this is just a start, and there is a very long way to go.

Pillar 3: Helping improve ESIC’s healthcare and compensation services nationally and reducing the need for Pillar 1

We engage with the ESIC regionally and nationally to help improve their services to 4.5+ crore workers and their families—a total of about 14 crore Indians who depend on ESIC for healthcare and compensation in case of injuries and sickness.

Since this Pillar began in 2017, we have submitted many operational and strategic recommendations to ESIC in 2017, which helped develop a constructive relationship with the DG ESIC. A second set of such recommendations were submitted in 2019, co-authored with IIMA (to be taken up again with the new DG appointed in April 2021); Suvidha Samagam (escalation forum for workers) streamlined in Haryana per our recommendations; 10+ national operational notifications issued based on our recommendations; ESIC Worker Health Diary launched nationally based on our Worker Hithlaabh Diary; Worker Welcome Pack/website links introduced based on our recommendations and Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana (ABVKY) Scheme for COVID-19 relief improved by accepting 7 out of our 10 recommendations, which we expect to result in INR 100+ crore disbursements.

SII’s work is now recognized within ESIC and a director is appointed as SII-nodal point. See SII’s interview with DG ESIC, acknowledging SII’s contribution to ESIC.

Pillar 4: Increasing awareness of safer work practices and ESIC services mainly among workers (also other stakeholders)

We aim to empower workers by educating them in-person, provide print collateral, and through social media to create awareness at scale. Additionally, worker safety and ESIC are not a significant part of public discourse but we aim to make these so, albeit in a constructive manner. 1,000+ workers have attended our support group meetings since 2018, where ESIC/safety is discussed; 3,500+ workers follow us on the Hindi Facebook page, with 10,000+ engagements, since its recent start in 2020; 10,000+ video views of our YouTube channel, started in 2019; And 1,000+ followers of our English Facebook page, launched in 2017 for consumers and influencers.

COVID-19 relief: During the traumatic COVID-19 wave 1 lockdown, we temporarily repurposed our services to support a time-sensitive need in the relatively remote worker communities around Manesar. As factories stopped production and workers lost their income and homes, over five months, we distributed 450,000+ adult ration units, 25,000+ masks and helped 250+ workers get back home. Here is one of several blogs on our COVID-19 relief work. We also conducted a number of surveys during lock-down on the migrant community to inform government actions.

In the current Wave 2, we have initiated a number of immediate relief and systemic long term improvement actions: (a) Supplied 85 large and jumbo emergency oxygen cylinders to ESIC Hospitals – 85 cylinders already provided in Delhi, Karnataka and Bihar example here; (b) Started a survey “ESIC Ki Baat-Aap Kay Saath” of ESIC Covid services for workers and push ESIC to improve those services while paying unemployed workers to conduct those surveys, thereby providing them some income – first report already sent to ESIC ; (c) Vaccinated 992 workers and their families in Manesar, Gurgaon; (d) Conducted a pilot for distribution of PPE to FLWs (Front Line Workers (eg. ASHA, Angadwadi, etc) in Haryana rural areas with NGO partner, Agrasar. We will keep amending our offering depending on the real needs of the community we are servicing.

Our actions are reported regularly through reports and blogs. Our various research reports on safety and ESIC are here. Here are our 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 annual operational updates detailing he impact for each year. See our media coverage here.

Thank you for joining the growing Safe in India family. We look forward to working together to make a positive impact on the lives of Indian workers and on labour productivity in the Indian manufacturing sector.