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Safety gaps in auto supply chains

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Calling for an introspection in safety protocols of various supply chain firms in the colossal automobile manufacturing ecosystem, a study by the Safe In India Foundation (SII) has underlined gaps in 10 auto giants’ policy framework on ensuring safe working conditions for workers employed in their ancillary units.

The findings point to a “disrespect for the lives of workers and the conditions in which they work”. Describing the automobile giants as “role models”, it says they must set very high standards and “demand respect” for human safety in their supply chains.

According to the report, the SII team has assisted more than 2,600 injured workers from 2016-21 — 440 of these were in 2020-21, a year of curtailed manufacturing activity because of the pandemic — in the Gurgaon-Manesar and Faridabad automobile manufacturing sectors. It says around 70% of them have lost fingers or even hands to factory accidents, leading to permanent disability.

The SII’s report is an outcome of its analysis of factory accidents and research of policies and practices of India’s largest OEMs, or auto giants. Among its main observations on the policy framework is that safety policies of most auto majors don’t explicitly say they cover contract/casual/temporary workers in their own factories and that seven out of the 10 companies don’t have a supplier code of conduct to align with National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC).

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