The severity of injuries in auto factory accidents in Pune appears to be worse than in Haryana, shows the latest report by the Safe in India Foundation (SII), released on Monday. The report ‘CRUSHED 2022’ is the fourth annual report on the state of worker safety in the Indian auto sector.
Nearly 83 per cent incidents in Pune reported a loss of body part of the worker, as compared to 67 per cent in Haryana (Gurugram and Faridabad). Most of these workers are migrants, hired on a contractual basis, with an education lower than the prescribed limits. Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC) prescribes a minimum education level of 8th standard for press shop operators, considering this a skilled job.
A typical crush injury to fingers results in the loss of two fingers per injured worker, with a direct correlation between the income and the severity of the accident. About 60-70 per cent injured workers report loss of body parts, says the report.
The SII, which has been working for the betterment of auto industry workers, reports that official accident numbers cover only a fraction of cases, as the Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DG FASLI), the national level body to track factory accidents, reported only 50-60 non-fatal accidents a year in Haryana, in its latest report in 2020. SII, on the other hand, has itself assisted 585 injured workers till October, in the current year in the auto industries of Maharashtra and Haryana. The number is expected to grow to aboout 1,500 in the current fiscal.
Besides, factory inspections have also been consistently reducing for years, as Haryana only reported 393 in 2020, down from 2,720 in 2012. And when reported, penalties are not enough to serve as a deterrent.
Moreover, the report notes that the ESIC e-Pehchaan (identity) card, which provides workers and their eligible dependents access primary, secondary, and tertiary health services, and compensation in case of sickness, injuries, unemployment, childbirth and death, was made available to a large majority of injured workers only after the accident. This is contrary to ESIC regulations which require it to be given on the day of joining their jobs.
The auto sector accounts for a little over seven per cent of India’s GDP, and employs eight million people directly and 29 million people indirectly. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) estimates that by 2026, the sector would account for 12 per cent of India’s GDP and employ some 102 million people. In light of these facts, the report recommends including all contract workers in factories under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Policy statement, on a par with permanent workers, and creating, publishing, and implementing a Supplier Code of Conduct (SCoC).