India: Police investigating double fatality in LafargeHolcim group

 

A local police inquiry has begun into the death of two contract workers that occurred at the Ambuja Cement Plant in Baloda Bazar in the Indian State of Chhattisgarh. It is believed that the two men died after being crushed between two grinding rollers. The accident occurred on the afternoon of 19 September 2017, and the two men were immediately rushed to the hospital, where they died from their injuries. Ambuja is part of the LafargeHolcim Group, and the BWI understands that LafargeHolcim is initiating an inquiry.

“What took place at the Ambuja Cement plant is an absolute tragedy, and our heartfelt condolences go out to their families and workmates” said BWI Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. “Events like this highlight the need for effective health and safety systems, especially for contract workers for whom the right to a healthy and safe workplace is often ignored.”

The men were working for a contractor named M/s Dutta Engineering Company, carrying out repair work at the Ambuja site that had been shut down from 15 August. They along with three others were trialling a gearbox, and the men should have been sent outside the raw mill when the accident occurred.

The Indian National Cement Workers’ Federation note that this is the second time accidents have occurred on the site, with five workers dying there in January 2013. In subsequent negotiation, they have secured compensation higher than that required under the law, including payments to the wives and families and covering education costs.

In November 2016 the BWI published a survey reviewing working conditions in cement multinationals and demanding that they clean up their act. It pointed at the increasing regularity of subcontracting in the cement industry, in some instances outsourcing up to three-quarters of their operations. The impact of this is particularly clear on occupational safety: the research indicates that 84% of fatalities across the sector are taking place in subcontracted operations.