9 November, 2022Within a week, two massive fires broke out in footwear manufacturing factories in Delhi, killing two workers and injuring 18. Lack of workplace safety continues to be a threat to workers.
Two workers were killed and eighteen others sustained serious injuries in the fire that broke out on 1 November in a footwear manufacturing and packaging factory located in Delhi.
According to media reports, the fire was caused by an explosion in a polyurethane (PU) machine used to produce the soles of the footwear. Around 300 workers were working in the factory when the fire broke out and many jumped out of the building to save their lives.
Prior to the explosion, workers had requested that the PU machine, which was faulty, be replaced but the factory owner took no action. In addition, the factory was operating without the relevant certificates from the fire department and had no firefighting equipment.
Just four days later, another fire broke out in another footwear factory in the same industrial area of India’s capital. Luckily no casualties were reported.
Most of the workers employed in these factories come from remote rural areas of the country. Workers reported to the media that they earn INR12,000 (US$147) per month, and work for around ten hours a day.
Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL south Asia regional secretary, says:
“It’s horrific that workers continue to lose lives due to employers’ complete disregard for workplace safety. Factory inspectorate must ensure that factories adhere to safety norms.
"It’s also important that we hold retailers who purchase from factories that do not follow safety standards, accountable.”
The injured workers are under medical care. The deceased have been identified as 24-year old Sonu Thakur, and 20-year old Akhil Kumar.
Police have registered a case against the owner and the contractor of the factory.