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Around 1,800 workers employed in various automobile parts manufacturing units in Gurugram-Manesar industrial complex have suffered serious work-related injuries over the past three years that included, among others, losing their fingers and hands, stated a report released by Safe in India Foundation on Thursday. The report further stated that 88% of the injured workers were migrants from other states and they were also the ones who suffered the most during Covid-19 pandemic.

As per the data shared by the foundation, 1,369 workers were seriously injured in the period between November 2016 and March 2019. Further, in the last one year, till September 1, 2020, an additional 504 auto workers faced serious injuries.

The report also stated also stated that 52%of these workers were young and aged less than 30 years. They were mostly employed by vendors of large auto companies based in this region.

“Every year, thousands of workers in Gurgaon, India’s leading automobile hub, meet with serious accidents. They lose their fingers, break their wrists, suffer nerve damage in their hands, and sometimes even lose the use of their hands. This happens despite the presence of safety laws and monitoring agencies in the country,” the report stated.

Sandeep Sachdeva, CEO, Safe In India Foundation, said, without taking adequate care of workers engaged in production, India can’t progress. “A large number of workers have lost their hands and fingers in the last two decades. They need to be saved.”

The supply chains of three automakers based in Gurugram and Faridabad accounted for more than 95% of the accidents. The foundation has also identified 31 factories in which one third of these accidents occurred. However, only few of the auto companies were serious about reducing these accidents and had responded to its recommendations in this regard, said Sachdeva.

Chitra Khanna, head, safety Initiative of the foundation, said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, a large number of injured workers were replaced as auto companies preferred to hire workers who were physically fit when they resumed production. “The pandemic hit all the workers but those injured suffered the maximum,” she said.

Experts also said that there was also a serious underreporting of such accidents by the factories and this was also the reason that systemic response could not be formulated to address the issue. On the government side, the report said that inspection of factories and industrial units has dropped while penalty for violations is very low.

Rajesh Menon, director general, Society for Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), said that safety of workers and their productivity greatly impact economic growth and social development. “Steps must be taken to prevent such accidents at all levels,” he said.

The auto workers’ unions, meanwhile, said that there was need to improve safety measures on the shop floors to prevent such accidents as the mechanism for help and supporting the victims was very weak. “The system does not help these workers much and they are left in the lurch. The best thing would be to ensure minimum accidents,” said Anil Kumar, district general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress, which has multiple auto workers’ trade unions as its members.

Reasons for accidents:

Safety sensors/mechanism don’t work

Lack of formal operating and/or safety training

Lack of/poor quality safety gear

Production pressure from supervisors

Machines malfunction due to other reasons

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