Hard hats and Chappals

Hard hats and Chappals

by Aaron Edwards August 11 2017, 10:10 pm

Construction is the second largest economic activity in India after agriculture. The Indian construction industry employs over 35 million people and creates assets worth over Rs.200 billion. Construction accounts for nearly 65% of the total investment in infrastructure. Every year, hundreds of the men and women workers either fall to their deaths or are electrocuted or are buried under rubble. In the construction industry, the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely than in a manufacturing industry.  India has the world’s highest accident rate among construction workers, according to a recent study by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Falling from a height accounts for the highest number of deaths among construction related deaths in India. Next is due to collapse of a wall and after that is due to electrocution. Apart from deaths many life-affecting injuries also occur on the construction site. Some of which can be easily prevented by basic safety measures like construction boots and a hard hat.

The Labourers working in these construction sites are mostly migrant men in the most productive age group of 18 to 45 years and either have parents or young children as dependents. Research by many proves that the number of deaths recorded in The National Crime Records Bureau is far lesser than that of the actual scenario. This is because in a lot of cases when migrant workers die, their families are paid rupees 50,000 or a lakh and they are sent back home without a case being registered. The only recorded information online by the government is till 2015. “One of the major reasons why this has not become a very major issue is because of the lack of accurate data, which would have shown a much higher number”, says Ahmedabad-based activist Vipul Pandiya who has been collecting data on construction workers' deaths since 2008.

The Lack of communication among the various departments involved and lack of proper inspections are the major reasons for accidents occurring at construction sites in India. Also lack of awareness about construction safety among workers and the employers. A lot of the construction workers who die due to their occupational hazard die working for huge infrastructure projects like airports, power plants, etc. Proving that it is not just smaller private projects that don't have adequate safety measures. Every effort must be taken to develop a safety culture as an integral part of the work culture of an organization. We don't hear many deaths related to construction. This is because many of these stories are covered up before they even surface and most of these laborers are mostly very poor and don't know about construction safety or their rights. They do not have a voice...

What are a few deaths on the path to development is what some may like to think. To them, it is wake up and smell the coffee! They are not just a few deaths but a lot of deaths which could have been prevented or at least studied, to prevent such incidents in the future. Ignorance of this fact does not lead to development. Development is very important, but not at the cost of human lives. Where are we heading if we do not value any life just as much as our own?!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.

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