'Thousands injured every year in auto factory mishaps'

A man rides a bicycle past a Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. manufacturing plant in Manesar in the northern state of Haryana. Reuters file photo for representation.

Thousands of workers suffer injuries every year due to accidents in automotive factories here, an employee welfare group claimed on Sunday as it published a report detailing the plight of the injured people.

The Safe in India Foundation (SII) on Sunday launched the report titled 'Crushed' -- based on the real experiences of 1,300 injured workers.

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar, who addressed the event through a video message, said the operating culture in factories is being made more and more professional and modern.

While the big auto companies appear to have their health and safety policies in place, it is the suppliers to these companies which need to strengthen their safety policies, according to the SII.

Thousands of workers lose their hands or fingers in accidents in auto factories every year in Gurugram. The numbers across India are likely to be staggering, it claimed.

"The majority of these workers are young, internal migrants, and contractual, working in factories that supply components to the car and two-wheeler manufacturers.

"The lack of safety culture in these factories and incessant pressure of producing at low cost results in these large number of mutilations," it said.

Very often these workers then lose their jobs or have to compromise on types of jobs and salaries they can earn which has an unfortunate effect on their families too, the report said.

The report, launched by the Divisional Commissioner of Gurugram Ashok Sangwan, provides the solutions and asks the manufacturers and the government to take actions.

These 1,300 injured workers have been assisted by the SII, launched in 2015 by three alumni of IIM Ahmedabad, in obtaining their Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) healthcare and compensations.

The findings are reflective of a national challenge as the auto brands are national and selling across country and exporting, Sandeep Sachdeva, co-founder and CEO of SII, said.

"The National Guidelines of Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC) hold businesses responsible for the working conditions in their value chain and the issues with factory conditions are similar in the rest of the country especially in auto-sector hubs which use a large number of Power Presses and Injection Moulding machines – two most accident-prone machines," he said.

MoS, Labour and Employment, Gangwar in his video message said: "The challenges faced by the industry is well understood and we need to help them too to improve safety aspects in their factories. Our industry will gain strategically from each step taken towards safety of workmen and also gain better productivity as the operating culture in factories is being made more and more professional modern". 

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