India: Non-compliance to OHS standards results in fatal quarry accident

A fatal accident took place in the wee hours of 14 May after huge boulders fell on six workers employed in a stone quarry in India’s Tamil Nadu State. It was reported that four workers died from the accident while the remaining two are recuperating at a hospital. 

The rescue operation took eight days to accomplish due to the constant rains and landslides in the area. The quarry is reportedly an unlicensed 300 feet deep stone quarry located at the Adaimidhippankulam village in the Tirunelveli District. The accident was so massive that a lorry and an earthmover in the area were badly crushed by the boulders. 

According to the District Collector of Tirunelveli, a First Information Report (FIR) has already been filed before the police against the quarry owners. Subsequently, a mine safety audit has also been ordered. The local administration also swung into action ordering an immediate crackdown on all unlicensed stone quarries in the district. 

A INR 1 million compensation for the family of each killed worker was announced by Tamil Nadu Chief minister M.K. Stalin. Meanwhile, the BWI-affiliated TKTMS, through its district branch, is in touch with the quarry workers and assisting the affected workers and their families. 

TKTMS President Ponkumar Ponnuswamy condemned the callousness of the stone quarry owners and the laxity of the government.

“The lives of workers should take precedence over profit. Compromising workplace health and safety standards to cut corners must not be tolerated. We are working with our district offices and the concerned government departments to prepare a list of licensed and unlicensed mines so that their operations could be monitored. We will  push for strict compliance of occupational health and safety standards and decent work in the areas,” said Ponnuswamy, who is also the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Construction Workers Welfare Board.