Most of India’s major auto factories are hardly a place for worker safety

Seven of the top 10 automakers had no policies to ensure the occupational safety and health (OSH) of workers in their supply chain, especially at level 2 and beyond. A Tier 2 supplier manufactures components for a direct supplier to an automobile manufacturer.

In the past four years, at least 2,600 workers have been injured and 70 percent of them have lost their hands or fingers in the Gurugram-Manesar-Faridabad industrial belt alone, according to the report. The majority of these accidents involved a machine called a power press, which is used in the manufacture of auto parts.

The Safety Niti 2021 report was produced by the Safe in India Foundation (SII).

The auto makers analyzed include the top eight auto makers by market capitalization listed on NSE, including Tata Motors and Hero MotoCorp. Unlisted companies Hyundai Motor and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) were also analyzed.

For the purpose of the report, SII gathered data from publicly available documents of these companies, such as the Corporate Responsibility Report, Sustainability Report, Financial Reports and Codes of Conduct, among others.

“We have found that on a number of points their policies and procedures for their deeper supply chain are very inadequate,” Sandeep Sachdeva, managing director of SII, told ET.

“The supply chain cannot improve without pressure from the automotive brands. They are the buyers, they have the business power over these suppliers and they have the expertise,” he argued. . “It is not their legal responsibility to take care of workers from Tier 2, Tier 3 and above suppliers, but it is now their business responsibility.”

This comes at a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles are quickly becoming a prerequisite for global investors. In fact, Sachdeva said the top five auto investors in India, including BlackRock, are ESG-oriented.

The number of accidents increases dramatically further down the automotive industry supply chain as smaller suppliers get involved. Up to 75% of the injured workers that SII has helped in the past four years were working for a level 2 or lower supplier.

Between 50 and 72% of workers during those years worked on a contract basis rather than being full-time employees, further reducing the employer’s liability in the event of an accident.

“Permanent workers have all kinds of advantages that contract workers don’t,” Sachdeva said.

Recommendations for automakers in the report to reduce the number of accidents include adopting OSH policies for their entire supply chain and explicitly including contract or temporary workers in these policies. In addition, these companies must require their suppliers that all workers receive a letter of employment and that workers be paid double for overtime.

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