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Patel, D A and Jha, K N (2016) An Estimate of Fatal Accidents in Indian Construction. In: P W Chan
and C J Neilson (Eds.) Proceedings of the 32
Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2016,
Manchester, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Vol 1, 577-586.
AN ESTIMATE OF FATAL ACCIDENTS IN INDIAN
Dilipkumar Arvindkumar Patel
and Kumar Neeraj Jha
Civil Engineering Department, S.V. National Institute of Technology Surat, Ichchhanath, Dumas
Road, Surat-395007 (Gujarat), India.
Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Huaz Khas, New Delhi-
The construction sector is very hazardous across the globe. However, in some
countries there is an absence of standard recording and notifications system for
construction accidents while in countries such as India, the systems exist but their
implementation is an issue. In both cases, statistics on construction accidents are
either unavailable or highly underreported and this leads to a situation where due
attention to safety is not paid. This paper attempts to estimate fatal accidents of
construction sector for all states in India. These estimates are based on reliable
information derived for the construction sector of National Capital Territory (NCT)
Delhi region using different sources. This study further projects the fatal accidents
for all states based on working population data obtained from Census. The quantum
of construction work in all states are differentiated based on their data on cement
consumption using linear inter and extrapolation methods. In line with this estimate
the minimum number of people that would have died annually in Indian construction
sector from 2008 to 2012 was 11,614. The estimates presented here would help in
drawing attention of all stakeholders to take remedial measures.
Keywords: estimating, accident, injury, safety, India
Safety is a basic physical and psychological need of human beings. Every day some
950 people die and over 720,000 workers get hurt because of occupational accidents.
Annually, over 48,000 workers die because of occupational accidents in India and
there are almost 37 million occupational accidents which causes at least 4 days’
absences from work (Hämäläinen 2010). In terms of economics, the International
Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that the total costs of occupational accidents
and work related diseases are 4% of the gross national product (GNP). The total GNP
of the world was approximately 75,592,941 million USD in 2013 (World Bank 2013)
which means that worldwide the annual cost of work-related injuries and diseases is
approximately 3,023,718 million USD (0.04x75, 592,941).
The construction sector is the second largest employer in India; however, according to
Hämäläinen et al. (2010), accident statistics of the Indian construction sector are not
properly and regularly published. Therefore, they are not easily available. However,
it is expected that many fatal and non-fatal accidents would be happening in Indian
construction due to its characteristics such as dynamic nature and involvement of
Patel and Jha
many stakeholders including migrated labours in a project, and a less controlled
environment. Whatever data is available our research shows that they are
underreported (Patel 2015). Although, there is a system prescribed for compiling and
recording these statistics the implementation at every places in country is not done in
full seriousness. According to Zhou et al. (2015), this is one of the reasons for not
conducting sufficient research on construction safety in India. Therefore, this study
sets the following objectives: (1) to study the existing global and national accidents
statistics of construction sector; and (2) to estimate the number of fatal construction
accidents in India.
In the following sections, the review of existing literature on the subject and thereafter
research method are presented to achieve the objectives. The different methods
utilized to obtain the realistic estimate have been explained and thereafter the
discussions and finally the conclusions are presented.
Safety performance is generally measured by reactive (after the event) and proactive
indicators (Hinze et al., 2013). The choice of safety performance measures or
indicators relies upon the purpose of measurement. The reactive measures are most
suitable to be used for the evaluation of past safety efforts or for the purpose of
comparison; while the proactive measures can be used to indicate whether the current
systems or efforts are working properly (Hinze and Godfrey 2003; Holt 2005).
According to Hale (2009), validity, reliability, sensibility, representativeness,
openness to bias, and cost effectiveness are criteria to select good safety performance
indicators. Hinze (2013) also suggests safety regulatory agencies, insurance
companies and other companies to continue using the lagging indicators. However,
sometimes, even reputed companies are not willing to share accident and injury data
for their projects. The unavailability of accident statistics is a hurdle in conducting
research on construction safety in India (Patel 2015).
In India, the estimated numbers of persons employed in Construction Industry are
53.45 million for year 2012 (Indian Labour Statistics 2012 and 2013) and there is a
shortage of trained man power. On account of natural attrition and the need of skills
of contemporary trades, construction industry still needs infusion of at least six
million persons per year (CIDC report 2007). This clearly shows the importance and
value of workers in construction industry and thus an inspiration to review the existing
accident statistics of Indian construction sector.
In general, the tendency of constructors is to keep away from reporting accidents to
the relevant authorities. Therefore, it becomes difficult to study the trend of accidents
and review the safety performance of the construction sector at state and national
level. As a result, it also becomes difficult to compare the safety performance of India
with other countries. Nonetheless, Indian Labour Statistics (2012-2013) consists of
the records of fatal and non-fatal accidents of mines, factories, railways. However, it
does not include the estimates of fatal and non-fatal construction accidents.
Therefore, there is a pressing need to estimate the fatal and non-fatal accidents in
Indian construction sector.
FRAMEWORK OF THE STUDY
Some researchers (Hämäläinen 2010, Nelson et al. 2005, Leigh et al. 1997)
attempted to estimate the occupational accident and disease at global and national
level. ILO (1996) emphasizes the estimation of occupation accidents and diseases and
Fatal accidents in India
has prepared a code to assist the countries to set the system to record the same. So far
existing literature lacks the standard research methodology to estimate accidents in
construction sector. Therefore, a framework of the study has been developed and
discussed briefly in the following sections to estimate fatal accidents in the Indian
Identifying and evaluating the list of sources for accident records
A number of plausible sources were consulted for the accident data. These sources
were identified based on past researches and interaction with experts and
professionals. While some of them were part of direct approach some of them were
indirect. A total of 10 different sources were employed for the data collection. These
are briefly explained below under the data collection section.
As pointed out above, the data were collected and complied from the following 10
25. National and International Journals
26. Websites of Government Departments and Private Bodies
27. Non-government organizations (NGO)
28. First Information Reports (FIRs) in Police Stations
29. Medical Legal Registers (MLR) at Public Health Centres and Hospitals
30. Insurance Companies
31. Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005: The Right to Information (RTI) Act
2005 mandates timely response to any Indian citizen requesting for
information from a government agency
32. Rajya Sabha: The Rajya Sabha or Council of States is the upper house of the
Parliament of India
33. Leading newspapers
34. Online search engines
Review of the collected accident data
There are no sound basis on which the accident statistics in Indian construction are
reported in International and National Journals. Similarly there are limitations with
the available Government (such as the concerned departments, ministries, and Rajya-
Sabha) and NGO records as these records capture the data only for an incident which
are reported. Police Stations do not sort and maintain the FIRs based on industry in
India. All leading newspapers and online search engines do not cover all accidents.
The Right to Information Act 2005 also has the same lacunae as under this Act the
available data only need to be shared with general public.
In the global context, reporting of construction accidents to the relevant authorities
varies among countries. Member countries of the European Union have mainly two
types of system to record their occupational accidents: (1) an insurance-based system,
public or private, or (2) legal obligation based system to notify accidents (Hämäläinen
2010). The reporting level is typically quite high - around 100 per cent in the
insurance-based system, while the reporting level is only 30 to 50 per cent in reporting
based on the legal obligation system. In India, the insurance companies and Medical
Legal Register (MLR) do not consist of information regarding cause of accidents and
the data is also not sorted industry-wise. In fact, due to lack of effective enforcement,
accident data is still widely under reported in India. Even in the global context, there
is huge underreporting in accident statistics. The accidents reported to ILO comprise
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only 3.9% of the estimated number of accidents that have occurred across the world
(Hämäläinen 2010). Leigh et al. (2004) have found that 33% to 69% of all
occupational injuries were missing from the injuries reported in the USA. It means
that under reporting accident data is the major global issue.
In the absence of a credible source, it was decided to make a beginning by relying on
the reports published in prestigious newspapers and complementing it with the Right
to Information Act. The data from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and
Indian express seem more reliable due to their effective accident recording and
reporting system. However, the collected accident statistics could not be generalized
at national level as it is not able to reflect the full estimate of fatal and non-fatal
accidents in Indian construction sector. Therefore, it needs to make a projection based
on the reliable base and suitable method to estimate the accident statistics of
construction sector at the national level.
Assumption and establishment of a baseline for the estimation
The National Capital Territory (NCT) Delhi has been considered as the baseline for
the national accident estimation. The capital of India, New Delhi is within this NCT
Delhi. The NCT Delhi covers 1483 Square Kilometre (km) and has a population of
about 16.78 million making it the second most populous city and second most
populous urban agglomeration in India. Such is the nature of urban expansion in
Delhi that its growth has expanded beyond the NCT to incorporate towns in
neighbouring states. Since 1991, under the constitution of India, the NCT has been
given special status as the National Capital Region (NCR) which includes the
neighbouring cities of Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad, Greater Faridabad,
Greater Noida, Bahadurgarh, Sonepat, Karnal, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Rewari, Baghpat,
Alwar, Bharatpur, Panipat, Meerut and other nearby towns. To manage the urban
traffic of this territory, Delhi metro construction project is set up in year 2000 as a
project of national importance and is funded partly by Japan International Cooperation
Agency. The Delhi metro is the World's thirteenth largest metro system in terms of
length and it is expanding its network in the NCR also. The DMRC has good accident
recording system as it regularly collects, compiles, and reviews the accidents records
of the Delhi metro rail construction projects. In fact, such is the importance of safety
in this organisation that they have a separate contract conditions on safety running into
about 100 pages. Moreover, in 2010, 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG) was held in
the NCT Delhi. Therefore, a large number of construction projects were speedily
completed before commencing that mega event in the NCT Delhi.
Arguably, accident statistics collected from the Indian Express newspaper and DMRC
New Delhi appear more reliable than the remaining sources discussed earlier. The
accident statistics of DMRC collected through the RTI 2005 Act is considered for the
estimation due to its greater reliability. All these have led to consider the NCT Delhi
as the baseline for the accident estimation for other states of India in this study.
Estimation of fatal accidents in the NCT Delhi
As mentioned earlier, the accident statistics of the NCT Delhi has been estimated
based on the Indian Express Newspaper reports and the records obtained through the
DMRC under the RTI Act, 2005. Authors have referred all hard copies of the Indian
Express newspaper from 2008-2012 and enlisted all of them to avoid their duplication
from different sources. The accident report from the Indian Express Newspaper is
categorised into three sources: (1) reports pertaining to projects of DMRC in the NCT
Delhi (10 fatal); (2) reports pertaining to projects of Commonwealth Games (CWG) in
Fatal accidents in India
the NCT Delhi (43 fatal); (3) reports pertaining to other construction projects of the
NCT Delhi (176 fatal) as shown in Table 1. In brief, from 2008 to 2012, a minimum
of 229 fatal accidents would have occurred in NCT Delhi region alone based on the
records of the DMRC and the Indian Express. However, the coverage of construction
accidents by the Indian express may not be 100% as the Indian express has only
reported a total of 10 fatal accidents in Delhi metro construction project as against the
record of DMRC which says that a total of 56 fatal accidents occurred from 2008 to
2012 as shown in Table 1. It is assumed here that DMRC has covered all accidents.
In other words, the Indian Express reported only 17.85 % fatal (10 fatal against 56
fatal accidents) accidents in the NCT Delhi during 2008-2012.
Therefore, using the linear interpolation method and rate of underreported accidents
(17.85 % for fatal accidents), the data of 229 fatal accidents can be adjusted. Based
on this adjustment, it can be safely assumed that 1282 (229÷0.1785) fatal accidents
would have occurred in NCT Delhi from 2008 to 2012. In other words, on an
average, a minimum of 256 fatal accidents must have happened every year in the NCT
Delhi between 2008 and 2012. Post analysis, safety personnel of few leading
companies were contacted to comment on the results. On the condition of
confidentiality, they agreed that they were not much surprised with this result as they
were fairly in line with the statistics they maintain with them.
Selection of parameters (working population, accident rate and cement
consumption) for the estimation
According to Hämäläinen (2010), number of total employment, Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), urbanization, number of women, and time series analysis of
developed countries could be useful to estimate the occupational accidents and work
related diseases. To estimate the global estimate of the occupational accident,
Hämäläinen (2010) used the accident rate of each country to its respective economical
active population. However, as per the records available with Government agencies,
under the BOCW 1996 Act, only 30,603 and 27,248 construction workers have been
registered in central sphere across the country for the year 2011-12 and 2012-13
Patel and Jha
respectively. The figure for the NCT Delhi region as per the records is only 473 and
317 for the year 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively. Registered workers can avail
many financial benefits and perks under welfare scheme of the governments. Less
number of registered workers reflects the non-availability of the sound record of the
workers associated with construction sector.
The study requires estimating the number of workers employed in construction sector
in various states in 2012 as the above statistics fail to reveal the number of workers
employed in construction sector. However, working population is available as per
record of census 2011 published by Indian labour Statistics (2012). According to the
report of Planning Commission of India (2012), the projected share of employment in
construction sector for the year 2011-12 is 10.91% and the growth rate of the
population is estimated as 1.77% per year (Indian labour Statistics 2012). Based on
this information, the working population in construction sector is estimated state-wise
for the year 2012. As per this record, in the NCT Delhi region, 619,767 persons are
employed while 53,455,595 are employed all over the country in the construction
sector in 2012.
Hämäläinen (2010) formulated accident rates for India by using the rates for
Kazakhstan and the total rates for Malaysia to fill up the missing gaps related to
occupational accident data of India. In India, the fatal accident rates per 100,000
employees in agriculture, industry, and service sector is estimated 10.2, 26.4, 6.9
respectively for 1998 and similarly 9.5, 18.3, 5.2 respectively for 2001 (Hämäläinen
2010). However, this study does not report the accident rate of Indian construction
sector. Moreover, India is a vast country and it has geographical and economical
diversity among the states. Therefore, it becomes essential to consider the quantum of
the construction works in each state. But estimation of the amount of the construction
work in a state seems difficult using direct measures. Thus an indirect measure such
as the consumption of cement state wise was adopted to estimate the quantum of
This is because cement is the basic construction material and is used mainly for the
construction works. The data of cement consumption per year is available on the web
portal of Cement Manufactures Association (CMA). The proportion of consumption
of the cement is derived for each state. The NCT Delhi consumes 3.8 million tonnes
(2.20%) out of the total consumption of 172 million tonnes at the national level.
Maharashtra state consumes 19.57 million tonnes. This is the highest among all the
states. It shows that Maharashtra has the maximum amount of construction works. In
brief, for extrapolating, measures such as the number of construction workers and
cement consumption are selected to estimate the fatal accidents in the Indian
Estimation of fatal accidents in Indian construction sector
The NCT Delhi has the total working population of 5,685,940 and so working
population in construction sector is estimated to be 619,767 (=5,685,940 x 10.9%).
The construction sector of the NCT Delhi consumed 2.20% (3.8 million tonnes) of the
total national cement consumption in 2012. Under these circumstances, the accident
rate, 256 fatal accidents per year, is derived in the construction sector for the NCT
Delhi region (refer Table 1). Considering this data, accident rate of each state and
union territory can be calculated using the linear extrapolation and interpolation
methods. For illustration, Jammu and Kashmir has a total population of 4,399,225 in
which 479,516 (= 4,399,225*10.9%) working population is associated with its
Fatal accidents in India
construction sector and the cement consumption was 0.46 million tonnes in 2012.
Comparing with the number of fatal accidents and working population of NCT Delhi,
Jammu and Kashmir should have a minimum 198 fatal accident (= 256
*479,516/619,767) for the year 2012, assuming safety standards are similar to that
followed in the NCT Delhi. Similarly, considering the consumption of cement by
Jammu and Kashmir state, and the NCT Delhi, number of fatal accidents is estimated
to be 31 (=256*0.46/3.8). Thus, as shown in Figure 1, the estimated fatal accidents of
each state and union territory based on its consumption of cement and population
associated with construction sector is shown in the left side (31) and right side (59)
respectively within a small bracket on the map of India, such as Jammu and Kashmir
Figure 1. State-wise estimate of average annual fatal accidents in Indian construction sector
Based on this empirical analysis, in year 2012, approximately 11,614 and 22,080 fatal
accidents might have occurred based on the consumption of cement and working
population respectively in Indian construction sector. Estimate based on the cement
consumption, 11,614 fatal accidents seems conservative because some construction
projects may have activities where cement consumption may not be considerable, for
example, excavation of lakes, construction of bituminous road, pipe laying, roofing
work etc. Therefore, it is expected that the figure of real fatal accidents might be
between 11, 614 and 22,080 in Indian construction sector. Thus, a minimum of
Patel and Jha
11,614 fatal accidents must be occurring in Indian construction. In other words, on an
average 38 (=11,614/300 working days in a year) fatal accidents occur per day in
Indian construction sector. Based on this data, the fatality rate (fatal accidents/1000
workers), of Indian construction sector works out to be 0.22. Indian Labour Statistics
(2012 and 2013) estimates fatality rate of 0.24, 0.09, and 0.05 for coal mines,
factories, and railways respectively. In terms of fatality rate, the data shows that the
construction sector is second most hazardous in India. Although mining sector is the
most hazardous in terms of fatality rate, it kills 84 persons as against the 11,614
minimum estimated fatal accidents in construction. This calls for adoption of stricter
measures in construction.
As mentioned earlier, a few researchers (Hämäläinen 2010, Nelson et al. 2005, Leigh
et al. 1997) estimated the occupational accident and disease at global and national
level. However, in the Indian construction sector, this study has followed a novel and
simple approach to estimate fatal accidents in the absence of reliable accident
statistics. The estimates of fatal accidents presented in the previous section show poor
safety performance of the Indian construction sector. The occupational health and
safety policy should be focused on in every region and all types of construction works.
This estimate will be useful to state governments to recruit labour officers and
supervisor to monitor safety issues regularly. The accident statistics of construction
sector should be collected, compiled and published by some designated agency or
government body in India. These data will be useful to analyse and differentiate the
trend of accidents in different sectors and regions. Time series analysis of such data
will be helpful to review the implementation of occupation health and safety policy of
the state or nation. Further research can be conducted to find out causes of accidents.
Although there is a provision of keeping records of accident from construction sector,
its implementation is not enforced. Whatever data are available, they are not reliable
and complete. Every state government has its own labour ministry and a labour
officer is available at each district level. Central government has a national
informatics centre at each district head quarter. So, government can use these
facilities and make a data collection network to collect the data regularly.
Government should register the information about causes of death in the death
certificate also. Leading newspaper and TV channels, insurance companies, hospital
may be linked to this network to provide or verify the relevant information about
accidents. The data will be helpful to know the causes of accidents and accordingly
new policy may be framed to prevent accidents in future.
This study attempts to estimate only fatal accidents in the Indian construction sector,
because the media do not cover and report the non-fatal accidents in all seriousness.
The extrapolation and extension of results for the non-fatal accidents may cause large
error and lead to misleading insights.
Moreover, this study does not include the investigation of causes of construction
accidents, identification and implementation of the preventive measures. Several
assumptions have been made to estimate the figures of fatal accidents. For example, it
has been assumed that the safety management systems applicable in the NCT Delhi
would be there throughout the country. Cement consumption has been directly related
to the amount of construction and so on. Safety culture of each state may vary and
depend on rules and regulations of that state. These limitations can be addressed in
Fatal accidents in India
future study. There is always a room to refine the study and to estimate more
Hämäläinen et al. (2010) estimated occupational accidents across the world.
However, due to absence of a standard methodology to estimate accident statistics in
the construction sector, this study attempted to estimate fatal accidents in the Indian
construction sector. Generally many countries depend on their insurance sector and
legislations to compile accident records. However, in India, insurance sector does not
maintain such data separately for the construction sector and many accidents are under
reported under legislations. Therefore, this study explores different types of sources
where accidents statistics of construction industry may be available. Afterwards, this
study relies on some reliable sources and estimates the fatal accidents for NCT Delhi
region using linear extrapolation and interpolation methods. It extends derivation of
the estimate at national level based on number of construction workers employed in
states and their cement consumption.
As a result, in Indian construction sector, the number of people dying in construction
could be anywhere from 11,614 to 22,080. Considering the minimum estimate of fatal
accidents, i.e. 11,614, Indian construction sector alone adds 24.20%
(=11,614*100/48,000) fatality in the total 48,000 occupational accidents occurring
annually in India. The fatality rate (fatal accidents/1000 workers) of UK, Singapore,
and Taiwan are reported to be 0.02 in 2013, 0.05 in 2012, and 0.125 in 2011
respectively in their construction sectors while fatality rate is estimated to be 0.22 in
Indian construction sector as per this estimate. The comparison also shows the safety
performance of construction industry in India in poor light in comparison to UK,
Singapore and Taiwan. In fact, this estimate will draw the attention of various
stakeholders of construction sector and motivate them to make safe work places and
thus save the lives of workers.
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